It was an early morning, or supposed to be, to ensure we made our 9.55 flight from Hanoi to Ho Chi Ming City, however my alarm somehow got set for Tuesday not Monday and it was only my sub-conscious that alerted me it might be time to get up and make a dash to reception and the bus :). Luckily there was just enough time to make the flight.
One of the highlights of Ho Chi Ming City (know to most people as Saigon) is supposed to be that they have some of the best tailors in the world and a majority of the group wanted to test this out. While only myself and Damien of the men wanted suits the women in the group had grander plans. So after an hour of looking though magazine of suit styles and at least 7 different books of fabric choices I got measured up for two new business suits. I have the final fitting tomorrow when adjustments will be made and after that the suits will make their way back to Australia before me. I have high hopes having read a lot of reviews.
This then left us with the two major organised events for the rest of the night, starting with a visit to the War Remnants Museum which focused on the war of aggression waged by USA against the people of Vietnam. As you would expect there was a lot of propaganda and bias in the displays but there was also truths to be found. War is horrific and it demonstrates humankind at our worst. So a warning that some people, especially the young might be distressed by some of the displays and photos, especially the Agent Orange gallery.
On the top floor of the museum there was a more balance photographic display created by photojournalist from the war who covered both sides. The at times cruel treatment by those with guns and power was hard to stomach but we much learn about these things in order to avoid or at worst minimise the compromises on human rights that happen in such situations. The old military vehicles helped create a great sense of the weapons used during this war.
While at the museum we got one of those intense Vietnam downpours. Our CEO BenG being resourceful organise ponchos, although the patterns and colours might get you in a look of trouble in some parts of Melbourne as we stood out in bright plastic bags 🙂
From the museum we started the Cyclo tour of the city (see video here). As it was raining we have the roof up on the rickshaws, obviously the hard working riders had no such protection. I found that my rider unlike in Hanoi wasn’t has talkative but was still a skilled rider. We made two important stops on the tour, the first to the Independance Palace and the second at the location of a Catholic Church and magnificant Post Office. The Independance Palace was the seat of the last South Vietnamese Government and the roof top was were the US Marines pulled out their allies from helicopters on the rooftop.
During the evening BenG took us to the Pho 2000 Saigon restuarant that President Bill Clinton ate at during his visit to Vietnam. We got seated at the Presidentail table with Graham taking Bill’s seat. The food was actually very good and the prices at that of a standard local restaurant despite Pho 200 Siagon being written up as a must visit eatery which usually increases prices! Welcome done to our Tour Leader for her excellent choice.
I didn’t explore the night market or the famous Rex Hotel leaving that for tomorrow night’s activities.