Sunday, 30 March 2014

Ho Chi Minh City AKA Saigon

Before we start - interesting fact - Ho Chi Minh City used to be called Saigon but was re-named Ho Chi Minh after the war, it was named after the prime minister that was in charge during the war.

Ho Chi Minh
The transport from Kampot in Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam was a bit different to what most people do. Most get a mini bus 45km to the Vietnam border then on to a big bus to Ho Chi Minh. As mentioned before we hate mini buses. Anyway, we went to this tour operator who organised our firefly sunset cruise & she said she doesn't sell that journey anymore because her friend did it & it was uncomfortable as the bus in Vietnam stops every 10 minutes letting people on & off so she sends people back up to Phnom Penh then onto another bus straight to Ho Chi Minh. We didn't know if it was true that this was a better option but it was slightly cheaper. We had a beer to decide what to do & decided to go with this plan & we're glad we did. Easy 4 hours to Ho Chi Minh then a 20 minute wait and then we got on the best bus ever. The seats were beds! I was amazed & slept all the way there.

So we arrived in Ho Chi Minh after a fairly simple journey and managed to find our hostel without getting a taxi which is a big bonus! The hostel was the cheapest in Ho Chi Minh - chosen by Russell obviously but it was pretty cool. Had privacy curtains which is always good. They also sold bottles of Saigon beer for about 30p - bargain!

Ho Chi Minh is so energetic. So full of life! There are parks everywhere. People using outdoor exercise equipment & playing every sport known to man. All day & all night. Its pretty cool.

We decided to go straight out & after a long time of searching for the bar areas we were finally there. Crazy set up. There were people sat outside supermarkets on flattened out cardboard boxes - & there were waiters bringing the drinks.

We went home about 1am as we had booked to go to the Cu Chi Tunnels the next day which I had been looking forward to since John at work told me about them a year ago.

I'm extremely confused about the Vietnam-American war so not going into details but the Cu Chi Tunnels are tiny tunnels where the Vietnamese hid during the war & some say this is how they won the war-did they win? I have no idea. Wars are soooooo confusing. The trip was pretty cool. You got to see booby traps they set for the Americans (think fake grass & American's falling impaled on bamboo spikes & in that hole are poisonous snakes & scorpions) and walk through the tunnels. You could choose how far you went through the tunnels - we only did 20 metres. It felt like 20 miles! Really really hot and claustrophobic. 

Me in an American M41 tank destroyed by a delay mine - the soldiers inside were destroyed by AK47s

There is also a shooting range there, you can choose which weapon to choose, from a machine gun to AK47 to M16 but you had to pay for the bullets. I've wanted to do this for ages so we decided to buy M16 bullets. Russell went first & did pretty well. After my go the guy kinda ran away so we thought it was over. He came back with more bullets so I could keep trying till I hit it. Turns out I was looking with the wrong eye so as soon as Russ told me what to do I hit it. Yippee!

After the trip we decided to go to the War Remnants Museum. This was really gruesome with pictures of dead people, victims of Agent Orange and even some foetuses. It also had cool stuff like tanks & helicopters.

So that night we just sat in our hostel drinking cheap red Vietnamese wine and chatting to fellow travellers.

The next day was 20th March 2014 - 10 whole years since our first date. God knows how we've put up with each other! We always celebrate so booked a nice hotel with a pool on the roof for 2 days. We had a great time, sunbathing, drinking beers & cocktails, swimming & we even took our own speakers up there and listened to our own music - our version of heaven.

Russell had even secretly bought me some pearl earrings and made me a card bless him!

We both really like chilling out in nice hotel rooms and ordering room service but the room service menu did not have 1 vegetarian option. Not 1! Russell asked reception but they couldn't make anything veggie for us. No worries - this is Asia, everywhere delivers! In total we had delivered pizza hut (twice), KFC, and Thai food. We ate in front of the big window with a great view over Ho Chi Minh and it's neon lights.

View from the room at night

View from the room through the day

Thanks to my lovely Mummy & Daddy we stayed a total of 4 nights, just what we needed as we were going to stay in a dorm room next.

There are 6 million motorbikes in Ho Chi MInh!

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