Trip Start Jan 23, 2006
6Trip End Feb 05, 2006
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To escape the throngs and ear-shattering music below, we ascended, once again, to the Saigon Saigon Bar where we could look down on (literally) the circus below. As the clock approached midnight, we headed back to Gusthouse 70, where the family who own the hotel had promised to walk the hotel guests to a good viewing location for the fireworks
The next day was a lazy one with many businesses closed for the coming week. We got up late, checked email, and tried booking tickets back to Phu Quoc for Karen, Nate, myself and our friends Ben, Nancy, Noah and Sam. I managed to get some tickets by the miracle of an added flight. As I was sitting in the agent's office, a seemingly spontaneous lion dance erupted just a couple of shops down. Businesses often commission lion dances for new year to bring luck and prosperity for the coming year.
The rest of the gang arrived that evening and we all moved over to the Indochine Hotel in the center of town to what I hoped would be a quieter location.
The next day, we signed up for one of the package tours to the Cao Dai Temple complex and the Cu Chi tunnels. The Cao Daists practice an amalgamation of various eastern religions and have peculiar rituals and ceremonies and an elaborate temple, where a slightly disturbing eye with a big bushy eyebrow is featured prominently.
From there, we drove back toward Saigon and stopped in Cu Chi to investigate an elaborate tunnel system constructed by communist guerillas during the French and American occupations of the 50's and 60's. There were some 250 kilometers of tunnels below ground with elaborate living quarters, kitchens, medical clinics and other necessities
At the end of the tour we were offered the opportunity either to relax or to operate large caliber weapons in the immediate vicinity of those who were meant to be relaxing. This was a tea house -slash- shooting range. It was a little incongruous. Bullets could be bought in the gift shop for about $1 each. It's amazing how loud M-16's and AK-47's are. On a related note, I read that in Cambodia, you can buy a water buffalo and shoot it or blow it up with a rocket launcher, depending on your personal preference.
We hightailed it back to Saigon where most got to bed early in anticipation of our flight to Phu Quoc. Lloyd and I tucked into the local brothel/pool hall for a game of pool and a couple of beers before saying goodbye. He'd be on his way to the Mekong delta while I led my tour group back to Phu Quoc - I know - poor me.