Sights and Sounds in Saigon

Trip Start Jun 13, 2008
Trip End May 25, 2009

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

So... We got off our bus to Saigon and immediately made our way to the guest house where Tony and Kate, two friends we made in Australia, were waiting for us... Roxy had already left us, so now it was me, Tom, Tibbs, Tony and Kate. Obviously with such a momentous reunion, we went straight to the closest bar and ordered dinner and copious amounts of red wine... We had a slap up evening with a lot more wine and a lot of dancing, which lead to all of us needing something easy and fun for the next day... soooo... we headed to the water park!! It was wonderful... loads of slides with big drops and water skids... perfect for forgetting a hangover :) The only down side was that it was their birthday, so they played the only four birthday songs they had over, and over and over and over and OVER! At the end of the day we started playing the hackey-sack game we'd seen in China - kind of a little shuttle-cock with a big feather that you pass from person to person, kicking it... (we have taken to calling it Ticker) Before long we had loads of locals joining in, who were far too good, but it was loads of fun :)

The next day we visited Saigon's famous Cu Chi Tunnels... this is a big network of tunnels used by the Viet Cong to try and hide from Americans during the war... they are seriously dark and narrow... I was able to go down and crouch through for about 150m, but Tom and Tibbs had to go down and come back up, it was a bit too claustrophobic for them... it was really interesting to see all the booby traps they left around the area to keep the Americans away, and also really gruesome - things like fake panels in the ground with loads of spikes sticking through to impale any intruder. There was also the chance to fire a gun there... Tom and I opted out, but Tibbs bought 20 rounds for an AK47 to have a go... I was scared just standing next to him and the head phones they gave us did nothing to protect our ears...

From there we went back to Saigon and visited the war museum... I was holding back tears for much of the visit... it was so sad to see all the pictures of victims of the war, but worse were pictures of the children born since, who have various different birth defects as a result of Agent Orange, a terrible chemical weapon, being used by the US to kill off vegetation in the area. It was a really sad day all round, and the effects of those chemicals are still a very real problem for the people of Vietnam today.

The next day it was time to say goodbye to Tibbs... Tom and I left him in bed (after jumping in and giving him a cuddle, of course) and went to meet Tony and Kate, who had overslept... We managed to get to our bus in time though... this time we were heading for the Cambodian border... We took a few different buses and made our way to a small town near the border where we slept in a hotel with no electricity... some people paid extra for air conditioning and were not pleased at all about that... In the morning we were taken to a small fishing village to look at their rice paper making methods and also to visit a small Muslim community on an island... all the way we were offered an 'upgrade' to the 'fast' boat for an additional $10, but we kept refusing, happy to sit on the slow boat for 6 hours and play cards... by this point they offered it to us for $5, so we accepted, as did a few others... but some people had already paid the $10... we were then taken to the one and only boat waiting to take us to the border... so there was only ever one boat, and it didn't cost anything extra... swines!! But we had a great time playing cards on the boat, waiting at the border while our visas were stuck in, and playing ticker with the local kids... Then we got back on the boat, then onto another bus, and eventually we arrived in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.... but that's another day and another blog :D
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