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 didn’t work luckily my sub-conscious alerted me it might be time to get up and make a dash to reception and the bus at the very last minute! There was just enough time to make the flight.
One of the highlights of Ho Chi Ming City (the former Saigon) is supposed to be that they have some of the best tailors in the world and a majority of the group including myself 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 a 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 on the tailors I visited.
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 and surrounding countries. 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 balanced photographic display created by photojournalist from the war who covered both sides. The cruel treatment by some of those with guns and power was hard to stomach but we must learn about these things in order to avoid in the future 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 organised ponchos, although the patterns and colours might get you in looks at weirdly in some countries as we stood out in our 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 the rider in Hanoi, wasn’t very 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! Well done to our Tour Leader for her excellent choice.
I called it a night and didn’t explore the night market or the famous Rex Hotel leaving that for tomorrow night’s activities.