Friday, March 6, 2015

Asia Trip - Day 26 - Saigon, Vietnam

Fri 6
Ho Chi Minh City
Visit Cu Chi Tunnels & Vietnam History Museum • Optional cyclo-rickshaw ride, traditional puppet show & cooking demonstration
After breakfast at our hotel, we visit the Cu Chi Tunnels—a 125-mile-long underground maze where thousands of fighters and villagers hid and fought during the Vietnam War, referred to by locals as the "American War." The South Vietnamese Communists, or Viet Cong, built this vast network of tunnels in and around the district of Cu Chi and worked continually over 25 years to expand the multi-level network. The tunnels—which include mess halls, meeting rooms, an operating theater, a tiny cinema, small factories, and vast ammunition stores—allowed the Viet Cong to control large areas near Saigon. Today, the Cu Chi Tunnels provide invaluable insight into the war era.
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We return to Ho Chi Minh City in time for lunch at a traditional Vietnamese restaurant. Afterwards, we'll have a chance to explore the Vietnam History Museum, which holds excellent collections of ceramics, weaponry, and Cham sculpture. You can spend the balance of your day at leisure, or later this evening, you may wish to join our optional tour, which starts with a cyclorickshaw ride through the city, followed by a traditional puppet show and a hands-on Vietnamese cooking demonstration and dinner.

It's going to be another difficult day emotionally. Besides: wake-up call at 6 am and departure at 7:30 am.
It's a longer bus ride and at one point there is a happy room stop. Yup, we are very spoiled at home.

The stop was a little shop and everybody cooed over the little baby in the hammock.

Her Mommy gave us a demonstration how to make those rice papers for spring rolls. We were told she makes 1000 a day. The screens are being put outside in the sun to dry.

We walked across the street where we saw a rubber tree plantation.

After more bus drive we came to the Cu Chi Tunnels. James and I had been before, probably more then 10 years ago. It had not been a very good experience then. History is what it is (like in Cambodia) but James and I didn't need to go into the tunnels again. Just a few photos.

Another long drive back to Saigon and to lunch. Pho (noodles) are the thing here ... especially for breakfast ... so our local leader said it was a must have. Beef for me. It was an incredible amount of meat. Way too much. The soup and noodles were very tasty. I wished I could have added the uncooked veggies but it was suspicious how they might have been washed. It was definitely a local restaurant.

And look what is hanging there on the wall!

We had the option to go into the market for 45 minutes. It was enough time for me to get some lovely souvenirs.

I thought this water buffalo was too cute and I am sure the elephant collection won't mind.

I got a sticker shock when I saw the price though. 92,000 dongs. Sounds bad but it was only $4.50.

The bus brought us back to the hotel where James made us coffee in our Laos cups and a shower was incredibly refreshing. Did I say that the temps are here in the 90s?
Happy hour in the hotel bar. Love looking down into the courtyard (where we had breakfast). Free entertainment. People were busy setting up for a wedding. I calculated that there must be at least 500 guests expected. Our local guide said that this is only medium size.

Since James and I had decided not to do the optional tour we were free just to walk around, popping in and out of a few shops.

Our hotel and the opera house from across the street.

James and I so remembered a shop where they had model ships in all sizes. His boss at the time had been contemplating to buy one. And yes, the shop was still there.

Finally we went to the 9th floor of the Caravelle Hotel. One more staircase to the rooftop bar "Saigon Saigon", famous for being the place were all the press relaxed every night during the war. It was exactly like I remembered it.
It was a lovely evening and we enjoyed extravagant cocktails.

And a couple of tapas. So nice.

Back at our hotel it was still early so we had to check out the wedding.

The bride in the red dress.

And that is all for today. Our last day tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Funny to see the woman making the spring roll wrappers. Tonight we ate at Vietnam Garden and watched someone using those to wrap their own. I know that I could NOT have done those tunnels. Too tight for me to feel at all comfortable. The cuckoo clock cracked me up! Everyone brings back souvenirs, I guess!