Ho Chi Min
When we arrived at Ho Chi Min Airport there was a Vietjet lost Items desk so we enquired about my Kindle which I had left in the seat Pocket of our flight from Bangkok to Hanoi. I’d realised it immediately but couldn’t get back on the plane to retrieve it so I was left with reporting it missing.
I did this on line but heard nothing so I got the Hotel to Phone them on my behalf.
Vietjet said they would e mail me if it was found, but to date I’ve heard nothing.
At the desk they wanted all sorts of information which luckily I had on the laptop plus my passport (which seems to be an addiction here, everyone want your passport). Eventually the lady made some phone calls to see if it had been found, which of course it hadn’t .
In conclusion she gave me a piece of paper which acknowledged the missing Item had been reported and told me to get on with my life.
We had contacted our chosen hotel, the Avanti and asked about their Airport shuttle service but they wanted $25 which seemed too much, so we went outside and tried to get a recognised metered Taxi.
Now we’ve noticed there’s something odd about Taxis here. The one at the front of the queue isn’t always the one that will take you. Why I don’t know.
Confronted by two different rows of taxis, one on our right close to the airport building and another just across the road, we followed the Taxi signs and went over the road, for no better reason than it got us away from the crowd’s clustered around the terminal exit door’s
Following the line of taxis to the front we asked a taxi driver for a ride into District one.
I may as well have been speaking in a foreign language for all the good it did.
He just stared at me with a vacant look on his face. This was repeated by three separate drivers of the first three cars.
The fourth one however took our bags, loaded them up and had us on our way in no time
He assured us he was a Meter Taxi and we sat in terror watching the meter whizz round as he fought through the traffic. By the time we got to our Hotel, it registered 1.5 Million VND an all time record high for a taxi fare. I had already rehearsed the rant I was gonna deliver as well as taking his number and photographing the meter, which by now was in overdrive.
However, when we stopped and asked how much we owed, (180 VND) it was a perfectly reasonable sum that equated to about $10 which is what Bloggers had suggested we should expect to pay.
The Hotel is right across the street from Ben Thanh Market which seems to be THE tourist hot spot, so it couldn’t have been better placed. Our room wasn’t ready yet so we went across to the market and got an Iced Vietnamese Coffee with condensed milk, which is becoming one of our favourites and I couldn’t resist some BBQ meat on sticks.
It was hot and humid and there was a strong smell of cooking fish which would usually make me retch, but not today.
The Market is typical, lots of stall’s crammed into a large building with trader’s all trying to get you to buy from them rather than their competitor by shoving items in your face and chanting their mantra.
“Hello Madame, want to buy some thing, come in to my shop and look.”?
Later we sat in the Air Conditioned comfort of the reception until our room was available then threw ourselves onto the bed and slept.
When we woke it was early evening, so we showered and got dressed to go out.
The Market had changed considerably as the Indoor one was closed but they had all moved out into the surrounding streets with pop up tents and stalls, BBQ pits and Food stalls filling the road which had become almost pedestrian. Except that is for the bloody scooter riders who ignore every obstacle put in their path, including humans, if they choose to.
We went up to Bar’s Bar which was up a steep flight of Stairs. It was dark and there was some modern Vietnamese disco music playing. Think really bad Eurovision.
3 x Very attractive young ladies in very revealing outfits were manning the bar in between preening themselves in the long mirror behind the optic’s. Gorgeous as they undoubtedly were I wanted a drink rather than a fashion show. As it happened it was happy hour and we got two very good G&T’s at a reasonable price, some free salted Nuts and some free entertainment.
After Mooching around the stall’s on the street’s for a while we re-crossed the road, got some more money from a convenient ATM that didn’t charge us any extra for the privilege and found ourselves outside of the Ben Thanh Indoor Street Food Market where dozens of small stalls were banging out a range of different food’s which you carry to long benches to consume.
There was a rather good local band playing and the place was packed with tourists and locals alike.
The range of food options was extensive. From Oysters and sea food to BBQ Steaks.
I chose some big fat Pork Spring Rolls that were very good served with a spicy dipping sauce and several large BBQ’d Prawns.
Jaki went for BBQ’d Belly Pork with a selection of BBQ’d vegetables and the Okra with dipping sauce was very good. One for my brother Tony?
We drank some local white wine served in very elegant plastic pint glasses and soaked up the atmosphere. It was fantastic and something we should consider putting on in the UK. A covered food hall with lots of individual artisan food’s at a good cheap price. Think it will catch on?
later we went back to our Hotel and sat on the balcony over looking the road and the market where we ordered two very expensive (and not to be repeated) G&T’s before calling it a night.
The next morning we had a really good breakfast at the Hotel before setting of to explore.
It was much hotter today and though there was some cloud, the sun was shining in a very blue sky.
Jaki had heard there were some nice Park’s to be explored and spotting two green areas on the map (which turned out to be the Royal Palace and as such you have to pay to get in) we set off to find them. Once we realised our mistake we decided to walk to the Zoo and Botanical gardens which didn’t look to be the 4 Kilometres away that it actually was.
We drank our way through 4 bottles of water before eventually arriving at the Zoo and had several near misses with scooter riders who by now were getting on my nerves.
Not happy with putting our lives in danger every time we crossed a road they also took to driving up onto the pavement (where we were walking) to avoid any traffic jams. Several times they whizzed past me from behind brushing against my arm as they went. Each time i got slightly more aggressive till in the end i Blocked the path stopping one rider getting past. I pointed to the road.
He simply shrugged and drove around me.
The Zoo was both magical and a Horror show.
If like me you are a bit of a Zoo fan you will be interested to know this Zoo is an antique. It is antiquated has a faded charm but hasn’t kept pace with Animal Management and good practices.
Most of the animal’s are kept in cramped under sized and completely inadequate accommodation and their behaviour reflects a lack of stimulation.
One Bull Elephant was locked in a pen just large enough for him to stand, without being able to turn around. He swayed and demonstrated the repetitive motions of an animal that has been caged and restrained for too long. His female counter parts and there were about 6-8 were in a larger environment but they stood motionless, just repeating the monotonous rhythms of boredom.
We watched a Gibbon showing off in the Monkey Temple (which is like a giant ornate bird cage, very grand but totally in a appropriate) and he was so entertaining we decided to film his antic’s.
He lured us into getting close to his cage before his grand Finale.
Grasping a lump of faeces from his bottom he threw it at us with remarkable speed and accuracy, hitting Jaki on the hand and splattering the i pad. He had the bowling action of ‘Tuffers’ With the accuracy of Broad and the arrogance of Peterson.
He seemed very pleased with himself.
We were so amazed by this that we stayed and watched him, though at a safer distance and he twice more threw faeces at us. Oh how we laughed.
What sort of place forces an animal to behave like that just to pass the time?
There were baby monkeys in another part of the cage though they were small enough to squeeze through the bars and come out onto the paths. Not too risky then?
There were also less welcome creatures running around and we counted 4 large Rats during our visit.
The more we looked the worse the environment seemed though the gardens, particularly the Orchid House and the bonsai Tree’s were amazing.
The afternoon took a particularly bizarre turn when I was led on a marble bench under a canopy cool ing off. Closing an eye I was relaxing when I heard some strange grunting noises that were clearly human, though not a spoken language.
Opening my eye a lady was taking picture’s of me. She seemed to find it highly amusing to see a Foreigner relaxing in the zoo.
There was even more commotion and this time when I opened my eyes she was leaning against my legs, making the two finger ‘V’ sign that is almost compulsory here, whilst jaki took her picture on her mobile phone.
It turned out the lady was deaf and she taught Sign language in English to deaf Vietnamese people?
After this our enthusiasm for the rest of the attractions fizzled out.
There was thunder in the distance and the first spots of rain were falling, so we decided to head home. Not before I had a quick game of badminton with some school kids using a very bald shuttle cock.
The walk home was long and hot and by the time we got in the US election results had called it for Trump.
Yet another opportunity for life to throw shit at me.
We slept till about seven when we set off to the market looking for a vietnamese flag which I hope to use when I get my next camper van.
There was a pop up restaurant dong a roaring trade in BBQ Fish so we sat and ate half a Kilo of giant Prawns with a mint and chilli dipping sauce that was sensational before going to book our trip to Cuchi Tunnel’s tomorrow. (Im currently reading a book about them by Tom Mangold but after I purchased it and opened the wrapper I found it is a badly photocopied reproduction, only the cover looks legit).
The Hotel wanted 500VND each but the travel agents around the corner offers it to us for 250 VND the only difference being the group size. Bigger the group, bigger the Bus, lower the cost.
I almost met my doom at the hands of yet another Scooter rider who decided to drive the wrong way up a one way street . We crossed the road on a Zebra Crossing with a Green walking man showing, looking right at the waiting traffic i didn’t see this loon who had to swerve to avoid me as I stepped off the pavement.
After some discussion about what to do next we decided to call it a day and headed back to our room where it wasn’t long before sleep over came us.