|SO, the next day we were off to Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon! We bought open tickets in Hanoi when we first got to Vietnam, and they covered every journey we made going south, and so here we were using our last ticket! It was a nice trip to HCMC, just so nice not to be up in the mountains! Even though the scenery was fab up there, it wasn't so good on our stomachs!
We got to HCMC around lunch time and after finding a hotel and hiding from a bit of rain we ventured out to get dinner. The area we were staying in was aimed towards tourists, and so good for us, we found some mexican food! yumyum! We had a lovely dinner, and Kat even enjoyed a glass of wine as was pretty cheap! We slept soundly in a nice safe new place!
The next day we set off for some sightseeing. We first checked out a market near where we stayed, Bien Than market, the biggest in the city. Then we were off along Th Lien Lune to find the Peoples Comittee Building. It is surrounded by designer stores like Chanal and Tiffany's, but you can't go in, just look from the outside. It used to be a hotel for politicians and heads of states, and is very regal and beautiful. Our next stop was The Museum of Ho Chi Minh City, NOT the museum of Ho Chi Minh as we thought! Expecting to find displays and information about Ho himself, we were a little surprised to find models of the city, and displays of how it has grown! It was ok, just not what we expected!
After this we realised that our next 2 sites were closed for lunch, so we headed off for some ourselves. Whilst having lunch the rain started! This is the first place that rain has really interrupted our plans, but we had a muffin and sat it out for an hour.
Next stop, Reunification Palace. The palace is where the government held all it's meetings, and greeted heads of state. It was the site of the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates. You could tell it was mainly about meetings, as nearly every room contained a circle of chairs! On the top floor though there were living quarters, with dining rooms, and an excellent relaxing room with a bar and pool table, and a cinema next door!
The day was getting on, so we made a quick walk to the Notre Dam Cathederal (not that one! We couldnt walk that quick!), and we headed back. Stomachs ruled that evening and we found ourselves tucked up in bed after another fabulous Mexican feast!
Sightseeing again the next day and we headed out to see the War Remnant Museum. It was not as we expected, and turned out to be an exhibition of photos taken by war journalists of the time. It was very interesting, but one room was very distressing. The was a room dedicated to the torture and war crimes commited, along with the herbocide war on Vietnamese crops and fields. We cant say if the Americans didn't endure such torture by the hands of the Vietnamese, as the museum is very one sided, but it definatly painted a very very bad picture of what they did to the Vietnamese locals and how they devestated farming areas with Agent Orange, a poisinous herbocide. There was a display at the end of the room containing pictures dated right up to today showing the birth defects children are being born with due to the lasting effects of the Agent Orange.
After the museum we got lunch and headed to the Botanical Gardens. Woops! We took a wrong turn somewhere, and then it started to rain! We sat it out with a drink and decided the gardens might not be so great in the drizzly weather, so headed of to find The Jade Emperor Pagoda. The pagoda is a Chinese temple, and we are discovering that Chinese temples are not very noteworthy! Mostly looking like dusty old derelict buildings with a collection of very dusty idols set up on a dark altar. Promises of intricate carvings on the walls and ceilings were empty, and we left a bit underwhelmed.
On our walk home we thought we would check where the bowling alley was as we were wanting to go whilst here, but we took a massive wrong turn going the wrong way along Th Dien Bien Phu! The place wasn't great when we went there, and every town since has had a road named after it on which we have gotten lost!!! Hmmm!
Eventually we got back to civilisation and after dinner went out on the town! We met a lovely borther and sister form Canada and had a great night on the 2 for 1 cocktails!
We had a relaxing day the next day just wandering the streets and having the odd drink and snack whilst people watching and checking out the buildings and parks. In the evening we met up with the Canadians again for dinner and laughs!
A couple more lazy days followed, sunbathing in the park and long lunches. Justified by knowing Singapore and Kuala Lumpar will keep us on our feet for 9 days straight once we leave here!! We did go bowling though, and although neither of us were bolwing stars, the geme was made very funny by Chris getting a very big tear up his shorts, from the hem to his bum!! Hehehe! He still won though! And we also made a trip to Chinatown. Well, just like the temples we had seen, it didn't exactly blow us away! There seemed to be nothing at all there! We were on the bus back within an hour!
The day before we left Vietnam for good we went to the Cu Chi Tunnels. The tunnels are in the old towl of Cu Chi, around an hour out of the city. We first went to a pottery where victims of mines and birth defects made the very expensive souvaneers. Then on the tunnels.We were shown some of the traps that the Vietcong set in the jungles first, and oh, you wouldn't want to get caught in one of them! Then we were shown the secret entrances to the tunnels, they looked very small, and Kat definatly wouldn't have fitted, but Chris might have been ok had they not been so tight he would have dislocated his shoulder twisting to get in!
The tunnels are where the people of Cu Chi and the Vietcong hid from the American Army. They lived down there for around 3 years. Tourists get the chance to walk/crawl along a 100metre section of the tunnels. So we all went in, both of us determined to do the whole thing. OMG!!! They were so tight! And hot! Kat had a bit of a panic just 25 metres in and got out, Chris did too but went back on in and did the whole thing. He came out drenced in sweat! But well done to him.
Unbeleivable that poeple lived in there for years. There were not big enough to even walk bended over in, and about a metre wide at the bottom and only half a metre at the top.
It was a very interesting day and after dinner and packing we slept very soundly.