Thursday, June 25, 2009

Walkin' Around

This morning was a late start for once. Alarm set for 8:30 with no strict plans (of course tomorrow we will be on a bus by 8:30- groan!). Breakfast was (suspensful drum roll)... ... ... bread and fried eggs. Who woulda thunk it? Plus pineapple juice and coffee. And one banana. Take that, Cheerios!

Mr. Lonely Planet was nice enough to give us a one day walking tour of Saigon. We started by getting lost. We walked down a couple of busy streets, and had to tell every single motorbike driver that we did not need a ride. They responded with "Where are you from" and then got us stuck in a converstation that ended with "Why don't you ride for just 1 hour. I'll take you every where. War Remnants Museum..." By the third guy, we just put up our hand and responded with a "No" to everything they said. Survival Skills.

Our first stop was the Ben Thanh Market. This was initial the most vial shopping experience ever. We walked down a clothing aisle. Should be harmless right? Every stall owner, as we approached would jump up and shout "What do you want. You buy? You buy!" It literally looked like they were doing the wave as we walked. A few grabbed our arms and we had to pull just to get away. I walked out immediately, and Carrie followed, but asked "Thats it? We're leaving?" I said that I didn't want to be pulled apart, and definitely wasn't going to buy anything because I didn't want to carry it all day. She talked me back in- to another section which was less invasive than the clothing guys. Shortly after, back on the tour...

After that we had to cross a traffic circle. Crazy. You know what we are talking about if you've been reading this blog, but this is what we've seen on steriods and HGH. Hardcore. We made it across to look at a statue in the center, and then finished the other part of the circle. No problem for us, but we crossed the second time with a Japanese woman who was terrified, and looked like she might freeze in the middle. I gave her some encouragement, and she made it. Lots of giggles on the other side.

We walked down a few side streets, and walked thru a street market (feels like every other one), and saw the Municipal Theater which was closed. Then we saw a couple of famous hotels and stopped for lunch at Quan An Ngon. It was actually a really nice resturant (we haven't eaten in a nice nice place since Singapore). Carrie had some sort of Noodle Soup with pork and shrimp and rice cake, and I had Beef with Chili Salt and Seasoned Toast. My papaya shake was much better than Carrie's Aquafina. All for less than $10.

After lunch we were way overcharged for 2 bottle of water on the street, and walked to the Museum of Ho Chi Minh City. Bo-ring. They had one room dedicated to economic growth graphs. Some cool exhibits were the tanks and jets on the front lawn, and a creepy bomb shelter underneath. Certainly worth the $1 admission, but only a quick walk-thru was necessary.

On to the Reunification Palace. It was the home of the South Vietnamese Gov't until the N. Vietnamese rolled thru the gates with tanks. This wasn't that exciting, but the 10 minutes of a video and the history of the palace exhibit were cool. You can definitely tell that the history was being written by the Vietnamese when they refer to battles and atrocities committed during the Vietnam War (and they certainly don't call it the Vietnam War).

Across the street was the Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon (not like the one in France, but ok), and the Post Office, known for its architecture. That brought us to our last stop- the Jade Emporer Pagoda. Carrie was very excited for this, since we missed the Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh. But this was not quite impressive. It defiitely needs maintance but the wood carvings inside were very intricate. The live fish eating the dead fish in the pond out front was also fun to watch.

But, the Pagoda was a long way away for home, so we cabbed it home. No motorbikes (safety precaution). But it is hard to flag a car and not get motorbikes chasing you, so we almost got killed anyway chasing the mini-van down.

Then we grabbed our books from our room, and got a coffee at the cafe nearby. Then we got massages (foot for 1 hour). We tipped 25%, were asked for more, paid more, and ended up paying $8 a massage rather than $7.50. Its hard to figure how much to tip when 15% equals $0.50. Carrie already wants to go back.

Grabbed our laundry ($4 to get it done), chased down our missing pants and returned the bra of unknown origin, and went off to Indian food (forgot to take pictures). Butter chicken and chicken biryani with garlic naan and roti. Quite good.

Thats it. Rubins out.

1 comment:

  1. I ca't believe you have so much time to write your blog each day and display your wonderful photos! Thank goodness I feel I am living your journey through your experiences, sightseeing descriptions, eating experiences, etc. because after hearing about your transportation situations including just walking across the street, I do not think Dad and I would survive the trip!! I can just feel my anxiety increase when I hear about your times on the "bikes"!! In fact, I would rather not hear about those times!!!
    What a "worldly" time you are having!! We love to hear all about it, so keep on writing!!!
    Stay well!!

    We love you and always love to hear from you!!!
    Love mom