|Crossed the border at Moc Bai by bus from Phnom Penh on Saturday. It was fairly easy although we didn't see our passports for about 2 hours while the bus people organised the group, a bit worrying!
Arrived in Saigon (officially Ho Chi Minh City) in the afternoon and found a cheap, decent hotel, $12 including breakfast, we're getting pretty good at this now! We are staying in the 'backpacker area' although it's not nearly as travellery as Khao San Road in Bangkok. We spent the afternoon exploring the various pirate DVD stores and bought a few CDs for about 30p each! Then went to the market for dinner. After dinner we discovered that the bar right next door to our hotel was having a birthday celebration and giving the 1st drink free - very happy to get a free beer and a free cocktail!
On Sunday we spent the day going around the various war museums. Went to the Reunification Palace first, this was the setting of the famous scene when the Viet Cong tanks smashed through the gates and claimed power in the name of communism. It was quite interesting and pretty amazing to think it was the scene of the last moments of the Vietnam War (or the 'American War' as they refer to it here).
We went to the Notre Dame Cathedral (a poor second to the Paris original) and found a cafe for my much needed post-museum tea. We decided to go our separate ways for a while so Doug could marvel at the Ho Chi Minh City Museum in peace while I wandered around the shopping area and found a cake shop! Doug said the museum was interesting but the weakest of the three. We then headed for the War Remnants Museum but got waylaid by a street festival/rally which was really interesting. We still don't really know what it was but the people were waving banners and cheering while dancers and drummers performed on a stage and down the middle of the street. It was a really good cultural experience (not one made for 'the tourists') which we stumbled on by accident. We later made it to the museum which was excellent. It was less one-sided than the Palace but still didn't pull any punches. It was very moving but maybe a bit soon after S21 and other Pol Pot relics - we left feeling pretty depressed!
On Monday we went on a trip to the Mekong Delta. It was a bit of a disappointment really especially regarding the organisation, but still good to see a different part of the country, and the river which we've already seen in other countries a couple of times. We tasted coconut candy, coconut wine, honey tea and honey wine and went to an authentic fruit market. A bit of a touristy day!
On Tuesday we went to the Cu Chi tunnels to the north west of the city. These tunnels were used by the Viet Cong during the American War and very really interesting to see. It'a amazing to think they used to live, work, fight and even cook underground in these tiny passages. They have one section about 100m long which is open to the public, our guide told us they have been widened and heightened for 'big arse tourists'! They were still tiny.
On Wednesday we left Saigon on the bus for Nha Trang.