Day 5 - Ho Chi Minh City to Overnight Train

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Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City
June 20th 2012
Published: June 21st 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

Up at 6:30am to finishing packing our stuff, check out and have breakfast. <br style="line-height: 19px; padding: 0px; margin: 0px;" />We left for our tour of Cu Chi tunnels at 7:45am. We had a local guide named Huy Nguyen. He talked to us about Ho Chi Minh City, his life and Vietnam in general for the hour and 35min bus trip out to the tunnels. He spoke about the population, the incomes and a bit of history aswell.

On the way we stopped off at a traditional Vietnamese house, not far from the Cu Chi Tunnels. It was just to show us how they live out of the city.

We got back on the bus and drove a bit longer before arriving at the tunnels. <br style="line-height: 19px; padding: 0px; margin: 0px;" />First we watched a 15minute movie made back in 1965 which basically gave their opinion on the war. Very Anti-American obviously.

After this we saw some of the traps they made and used then they showed us the holes in the ground that were camouflaged and connected to the tunnels that the lids could just pop up and down. I was the only one from the group that would get in it. It was very tiny.

Then they showed us some other hiding tactics they used then we made it to the rifle range. There was only a few of us that did it, I figured I probably wouldn't be doing it again anytime soon so may aswell. It was 175,000VND or $8.50 for five bullets to shot an AK-47 Rifle. Lucky I carry earplugs as it was so loud. They of course gave us earmuffs aswell. The front of the gun was attached to the thing you were to lean it on, otherwise I can't imagine the direction the gun would have gone when I shot my first bullet. So much power. Scary.

After the rifle range we went down to the tunnels. There is an 'escape' stair case every 20mtrs, we did 40mtrs before we all had to get out. They were so dark and small and just made your heart race. I don't know how they did it.

After, we had a brief stop at some tables where they gave us tapioca or cassava which we dipped in this peanutsalt/pepper mix. It was bland. We had tea aswell. Then it was time to head back on our 1.5hr drive to the city.

When we got back Jess and I went to the bank to change over some money then round the corner from the hotel to Crumbs.nCrumbs is an Australian style bakery which was like a cross between Bakers Delight and Brumbys. I got a sausage roll, chocolate croissant and a jam scroll for the train trip.

We met up at 2:00pm for our cyclo tour. Basically you sit in this seat in the front and a guy peddles a bike style thing on the back and you go round the city. This was included by Intrepid so we did it. It was good though, mine was super speedy and a little chatty. He asked my name and where I was from, when I said "Australia" he was like "ohhh Sydney" ummm "no". And he just made other small chat along the way until we reached the War Reminants Museum. Then he said "I'll see you in a little while" and rode off down the street.

We had a brief chat with our guide out the front before we had about an hour and 10mins to explore.

For anyone who had been to this particular museum you will probably describe it almost word for word. It was extremely confronting. You are lured in with a false sense of 'oh this wont be so bad' as the bottom level is mainly anti-war posters and childrens drawings of peace. It's when you make it upstairs that, pardon my language, shit gets real.

There are various rooms for various themesb such as 'Aggression war crimes', 'Agent Orange aftermath in the US', a room that was dedicated to all the Journalists and Photograhers that had lost their lives, a torture room and a few others. <br style="line-height: 19px; padding: 0px; margin: 0px;" />It was all so graphic and sad. Some of the images were extremely moving and of course, each photo had a caption the went with it. So you'd look at the photo, read the story then look at it again. An hour of this was enough and it was time to meet the others out the front by the tanks and planes. When I left I had the same feeling as stepping out of the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C.; Sad, depressed and very disappointed in the human race.

We had the option to continue the cyclo tour around the city but everything they were seeing we had already seen over the previous day so we opted just to go back to the hotel. Intrepid had two rooms that had all our luggage and also would allow us all to shower before we did our overnight train to Hoi An.

Because all bar three of us did the city tour we had plenty of time to shower and re-shuffle our bags for easy access on the train.

We had to be ready and packed by 6:00pm but because we were back early we were ready by 4:30pm when the others got back. So we decided to go for a walk.

We walked up the road and crossed over to a lovely little shop called The Macaroon Boutique. Here I was able to buy some macaroons for only a quarter of the price they are at home. I was just surprised to see a macaroon shop! With that, and Crumbs we were set. We wandered down to the stop-n-go store for some water then back to the hotel to fill in time in the lobby on the free wireless before 6:00pm rolled around.

Everyone was cleaned up and ready on time so we boarded our bus to Ga Sai Gon or if you like, Saigon railway station.

Bruce alread had our tickets so we boarded the train in the highest class they have. Carly and Sarah-Jane had asked on the bus if we wanted to share a room as it was 4 people in one cabin so Jess and I followed Bruce on the train and jumped in the first free cabin where Carly and Sarah Jane followed.

The cabins were more than big enough; four beds with a little table and more than enough room for luggage. We each had a clean pillow, sheet and blanket on the beds and were all very happy with it.

We left at 7:00pm on the dot and was told there would be 6 stops throughout the night with the last stop before our destination of Danang being at 6:15am.

We sat in the cabins just getting to know each other, various people came and went and it was all very low-key. We discussed past and future travel plans among many other topics. Then eventually decided to get some shut-eye. It had been a long and draining day as it was probably the hottest day we've had so far so we switched of the lights about 10:30pm.


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