Saigon

Trip Start Nov 02, 2011
1
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Trip End Ongoing


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Thursday, January 24, 2013

After arriving in Saigon to a 'Hero' welcome from the Taiwan Tornado team I settled in and chilled out for the best part of two weeks, staying in a hostel just off Pham Ngu Lao. On arrival I met Michelle again literally in the street, when I was looking for a place to stay and ended up in the same hotel which was great. She’s leaving tomorrow down to the Mekong Delta before going to Phu Quoc Island which means I can get her room with a view which will be nice.

Only problem is, the woman from the Guest House has taken a dislike to me and my bike, and wants me to move my bike or leave! I tried to explain to her that on arrival I had discussed my bike safety with her husband who had no problems taking it inside at night time and generally looking after it, but she’s not happy (although what problem it causes her I don’t know). She’s being so ridiculous it’s funny! I had given down laundry on arrival to her husband and she has now refused to do it and put it back in my room, saying it couldn’t be done. I would have left there and then if it wasn’t for Michelle who came back mid dispute and tried to make it all out to being a misunderstanding (my ass), and I was now late for going to meet Franco and his friends! Needless to say I didn’t stay at this guest house for long and instead moved into another place not far.

So, I know I’ve no tolerance for assholes, but you know what… I don’t need to tolerate them, which is another great thing about travelling on your own… I’m my own boss. Why should I give someone money for a room if they’re drawing you dirty looks every time they see you? Despite the hotel, I have a great time in Saigon, meeting loads of people and generally hanging out, seeing the sights and catching up with a few jobs I need done like servicing the bike, fixing a few bits, stocking up etc. which I enjoy.


When I arrived (late) to meet Franco I was greeted with a very warm welcome, and was presented with the Taiwan Tornado Team colors while a million photographs were taken, who’s the celebrity! The team all ask questions about my cycling and they cant believe that I am doing it on my own (especially the women), They are looking forward to keeping a track of my travels to see where I end up, I've definatly made a few friends for life here which has been fabulous.

It’s a nice place Saigon and I enjoy the local market and lanes around the Pham Ngu Lao area where I’m staying, I end up down at an Oz owned place most days at some point and know all the locals around which is fun, they have great live music every single night and I know a few of the singers by the time I leave. It’s a great place for meeting folk too and I’m delighted when I meet four young guys from Scotland on their way to Oz for work who are great fun, they are hoping to come back to Asia after working in Australia for more travelling. You would think youngsters wouldn’t want to hang out with someone older but honestly we all got on sooo well, and with Ryan and I being pool champs from the first night, we spent a few days together.

It’s a bit of a late night city for me and often before bed I hit the market for breakfast but everyone is in the same boat… the main area has plenty of street food, cheap beer, filled with westerners which is fun for a while. I try lots of the street foods because it’s cheap and tasty although I do have some western food too. In the hostel I’m staying I meet Angela (who I meet again in Phu Quoc Island) who is good company and a few Australian guys Luke, Ma Nu, Beans etc. who I’ll hopefully meet again on my travels and had fun playing darts games and cruising the area.

I do all the tourist things here from visiting the Palace, Cathedral, Post Office, Theatre, Sky deck, but the War Museum was really hard to stomach, especially the Agent Orange displays and information, which was horrific so much so that I had to leave, it was terrible. Earlier in my travels my Easy Rider guide in Da Lat had told me a number of things about Agent Orange but it wasn’t until I got here that it really sunk in what he had been talking about.


I spend a day out at a Cao Dai Temple which is in use when we arrive but it’s fascinating watching them pray, we are able to walk around the balcony area and get a real proper look around and feel of the place. Afterwards I have a walk round the gardens before getting back on the bus as we head out to the Chu Chi Tunnel complex.

Our guide was good fun and kept jumping out on people, demonstrating how traps work and showing us the tunnel system which we get to crawl through, although they are fairly claustrophobic, these tunnels have been made bigger for tourists, they would actually be a third of the size for the Vietcom. After the tunnels I have a shot at the shooting range and share the cost of bullets with a couple of people which meant I could have a shot of firing these rifles/guns... wow, what a blast! Really gives your shoulder a kick but it would be addictive the power of them, interesting to try though.


While I’m in Saigon I have a walk round every day and a nearby park is full of flowers and bonsai trees which are huge and are all for sale for Tet approaching, I love the trees with the yellow flowers which they add red and gold good luck charms, but in particular I love the massive pots they are in especially the mosaic pots. I watch one being loaded onto the back of a truck which takes 8 men to lift, smaller pots and plants are transported on the back of motorbikes but often these aren’t even tied on with the rider holding the pot with one hand while riding with the other.


So all in all an interesting place which has plenty to see and do, thoroughly enjoyable.
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