Christmas day was really good waking up to ...

Trip Start Oct 25, 2001
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Thursday, December 27, 2001

Christmas day was really good, waking up to clear blue skies and a pleasant temperature of 26oc. I managed to meet a bike rider called 'bang'(no joke!) who spoke fairly good Englsih that took me to see the sights around Dalat. Once we got out of town in amongst the pine fields it was really peaceful passing local Vietnemese ladies working hard in the nearby fields, digging up vegetables, and preparing the rice fields. (I think i managed to get a few good pictures as i mingled amongst them)
Even after explaining to 'bang' what i wanted to do (to mainly take pics of workers in the fields) he still managed to take me to a local tourist attraction. It was like a minature version of Alton Towers (theme park) that had a lovely waterfall, that was spoilt by a rickety looking sky lift that crossed over the waterfall, with inflatable rowing boats for hire to row upto the cascading water. Then there was another Vietnemese 'cowboy' standing next to his horse so the locals can pay to sit on the horse and have a picture taken of themselves infront of the waterfall. (and then get off the horse) It was higly amusing to watch the crowds of (mainly) excited Vietnemese holiday makers walking around taking pictures of almost everything with their disposable cameras. Nearby they had a archery section with wooden bears, lions, deer, and elephants in which to practice your firing skills.
Overall a rather 'relaxed' day.
The next morning i packed my belongings and caught the morning bus to Saigon, taking just over 7 hours. I knew when we were close to Saigon not just because of the huge amounts of traffic, but also the blue skies turned a murky grey colour, with a distinct smell in the air?? (an unexplainable smell)
So i managed to check into a hotel, then spent the rest of the afternoon walking around town trying to get my bearings.
I cant believe its now Boxing day. It feels like any other day here, with homeless and poor children walking the streets and working for a pittance while in the western countries most kids are playing with their large collection of flashy toys 'Santa' had brought them.!!

The guide book (and commonwealth advice online) mentions that Saigon is by far the WORST place in Vietnam for petty theft and street robberies.
They advised not to walk the streets at night, and dont have anything hanging off you (like bags etc) that your not willing to part with. Apparently robbers ride by and snatch any valuables you might have and zoom off on their bike.
Watches, and even spectacles have been snatched off tourists!!!
There are also other scams like druggings. (mainly as you travel on public busses and trains) It usually starts with a 'friendly' local offering you a drink (with a dose of chloral hydrate in it) only to wake up hours later minus your luggage.
...And if your really unlucky, you dont wake up at all because an overdose of chloral hydrate can be fatal. All aside though Saigon dosen't seem that dangerious than say Hanoi. I suppose you just have to minimise the opportunities for theft.
Thats why i took off my watch, and attached the clips from my camera bag around me. (if they try to take my camera bag, they will have an extra passenger on thier bike attatched to it!!)
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