Tuesday, 17 May 2011

April 24th ~ Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

We weren't overly excited about any of the tours as they mostly involved going to temples and museums and we were booked to see those in Thailand. Again, we set out on our own…this time taking an organised bus trip into Ho Chi Minh but then exploring on our own. Vietnam is an interesting place. We noticed in both cities that there is a lot of building going on…especially high end resorts and gated communities, obviously to capture the tourist trade and overseas investors. We had seen a Greg Norman golf resort being built in our way to Hoi An. The buildings that some of the locals live in range from run down shacks to very narrow long units. There is building and demolishing rubble everywhere and towns look a bit scrappy because of it. There are also rice fields everywhere and many lean-to food shops by the side of the road where food is served and there are hammocks hanging where workers can rest in their lunch breaks.

Another interesting thing is the electricity/power lines. It is a miracle that anyone has power when you see the state of the lines! It is a wonder in itself!! Of course there are motorbikes everywhere and the usual stack of passengers on each (usually 3-4), along with some amazing amounts of produce or supplies. It is every one for themselves on the road and makes for entertaining bus rides.

What the??

Traffic going anywhere they want!

Dad, Mum and daughter on the family bike.

We were happy to just walk the streets and see what we could find in Ho Chi Minh. We have loved the tours we have been on but we have loved being able to see how the locals really live and to experience 'a day in the life' of wherever we are. There are always people on the streets-homeless, street vendors selling food or goods, locals congregated to eat and talk, and always good and bad smells and interesting sights.

You want to buy sunglasses??

Street food stalls

Man making satay sticks on the footpath…they smelt very good.

Kids playing in styrofoam box.

It was a very hot and humid day and pretty much the moment you step out of the bus you are hit with the thickness of hot and wet air and you start to sweat. We managed to walk to the main markets and went inside. It was crammed with stalls and people and it was just as hot inside the massive shed like area. We had planned to explore the markets for a couple of hours but only lasted about 25 minutes. These markets were not only hot and crowded but the shopkeepers were very 'hands on'. If you looked at anything longer than 3-5 seconds they would rush over to you and literally pull you into their shop. The coaxing and encouraging to buy would begin and we were inundated with pleas of 'what do you want?', 'just look', and 'I give you good price'. It was very overwhelming and in the end we couldn't take being manhandled the whole time. We were being grabbed and touched down every alley and had to pull ourselves away from their grasp.
The crush of the markets.

We escaped back out to the streets and walked until we saw an ice-cream store. A respite from the heat was just what we needed so we sat down under the fans and ordered some cool treats. There were only 5 flavours and as tempting as taro, green tea, or durian flavoured ice-cream was, we went with strawberry and a scoop of coconut for Kieran. It wasn't bad and it refreshed us somewhat so we could head back out to the heat.

Banana split, smoothie and triple scoops

We enjoyed some more of the local sights and looked in a few shops and a pretty park with manicured lawns and trees.

Lady selling coconut drinks.

Pretty park

Soon it was lunchtime so we scoped out the restaurants and decided on one named Vietnam House…well we were in Vietnam! It was highly air-conditioned…tick! It looked clean…tick! It smelt good…tick! We enjoyed some yummy dishes and drinks and it was very reasonable.

Vietnam House
What will we have?

My coconut drink
Pho, fried rice, chilli beef.
After walking to some more shops we decided to head back to our bus meeting point and kill some time at the department store. Kieran found the electronics department and bought a dvd player and some dvds so we could have some more entertainment on the ship.

Walking the streets.

So that was Vietnam…next stop Thailand!

No comments:

Post a Comment