Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Trip Start Oct 23, 2011
Trip End Nov 12, 2011

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Flag of Vietnam  , Hồ Chí Minh,
Sunday, October 30, 2011

The hotel served a nice breakfast, buffet style with many choices including pho, spring rolls, fruits, broken rice (a rice porridge) and eggs, juice and coffee - nice strong coffee.

Fortified, we made our first successful street crossing and a pilgrimage to the Ban Thanh Market, navigating the narrow aisles of household goods, clothing, fabrics, carved wooden masks, silks, interesting foods, fruits, vegetables, meats, fish and of course tee-shirts and souvenirs, goods stacked to the ceiling with hardly enough room to move. It is chaotic, busy and a must see.  If you find something you like but not the right color or size, no worries, the merchant will run to another stall until they find exactly what your want or what they think you want, never let a sale go . . . customer service on steroids.




We lunched at Pho 2000, the restaurant's walls are covered with photos of Bill Clinton with staff members.  He was discovered quietly dining here in 2000.  The pho was good and the restaurant quite crowded with mostly Caucasians, I guess all of the tour books recommend it.  For $5 each we had spring rolls, pho and a beer . . . deal!

 With full bellies and a morning of shopping under our belts we decided to find a little shade and entered a lovely park not far from the hotel.  We had not been there long when a young lady approached me and asked if we could talk.  She wanted to practice her English and I was happy to oblige.  She was 24, had completed her law degree and was working in a job writing contracts; she described it as boring but could not progress in her career without better English.  We talked about family and she talked about her family, where she grew up and how much she missed her grandmother all the while she had her hand on my arm and was most attentive.  When I took out my fan to cool myself she apologized for talking so much fearing that she had tired me.  She offered me water and said it was okay if we just sat, I must have reminded her of her grandmother, she was very sweet and this was a bright spot in my day.  I told her about my family and grandchildren, she got quite a giggle out what my grand kids call me "Nana", she just thought that was such a funny word.   We talked for about 45 minutes and while we sat there a few other young people approached the rest of our group also wanting to practice their English.  This was a memorable afternoon and as I was walking away I heard "goodbye Nana".

We had a restful afternoon, caught up on correspondence on the public computers in the lobby running into others from the group as they came back to their rooms after a day of exploring.   We gathered in the evening for our first group dinner and got the bad news . . . tomorrow morning a 6:30 a.m. flight to Rach Gia . . . that means a 4:00 a.m. wake-up.  Let the fun begin.

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