Travel Bug Bites Again

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Sunday, October 16, 2011

My first introduction to Ho Chi Minh was the taxi driver attempting to double charge me the airport tax. Not to be taken for a ride I stared him down, "No way man, I've already paid'. Pre-empting my skilful Jackie Chan moves he chuckled to himself, gave up and headed off to my hotel. It was then that I noticed I was sitting in the front seat of a left hand drive vehicle, something I had expected yet had somehow gone unnoticed for a good 10 minutes. 
The Hong Thien Loc is a stunning hotel, I almost have room between the 2 single beds to fit my water bottle, I do have a TV, cyclonic fan and an air conditioner I can't operate.  
There is a laminated card on the bench one would assume was the mini bar list, but all I can understand is that it will cost me $20 USD if I want to souvenir the TV remote and a 'Good Night' will cost $5. 
The 3 hr time difference between here an home had me twiddling my thumbs at 6am waiting for breakfast to start. I bypassed the baguettes, weird butter, omlette, dragon fruit, condensed milk, spring rolls and pho and instead opted for a bowl of pork rice porridge, egg rice and stirfry rice vermicelli and spinach. An awesome start to the day. 
After lunch I wandered back towards 'Ben Thanh Market' but before I found it 'Thu', a Cyclo man, found me. He had all these wonderful handwritten testimonies and photos of happy customers and twisted my arm into having a a 1hr cyclo ride with him to see some sights. Long story short: Visited the Ho Chi Minh Museum, nearly died in traffic twice, checked out the Notre Dame Cathedral and got absolutely drenched in a downpour on the banks of the Saigon River while watching children net teeny fish. And then the highlight..... My ever so friendly cyclo driver attempted to extort 8 times the going rate from me. Reminder to self: Never, ever, ever tell anyone it is your first day in their city. I didn't kick his cheeky ass, I didn't pay him the ridiculous rate, I did however pay him nearly double the going rate and we parted ways both feeling a little deflated. Just another lesson learned.
The evening became a progressive Lonely Planet beer crawl, having one beer at each location. I stumbled upon some funky live jazz tunes which warranted 2 ales then scoffed down some noodles for dinner before retiring to my room. I plan to get up early in the morning and do some exercise in the park across the road, heaven knows I'll need it the way the food is tasting. 

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