Monday, 10 November 2014

Touristing it in Saigon

8.11.2014 Xin chao! Hello from Bien Hoa Food Village once again, the time is tam gieu nam moui sau (with a few accents missing) as I learnt in the awesome Vietnamese lesson I attended on Wednesday.

So, spent most of last week back in my beloved HCMC, Saigon, ah I love you. <3 
Traffic at a cool square near the main HCMC centre
And this time I was able to properly do some of your touristy things, so here goes...

Independence Palace. The home of the president of South Vietnam during the war. Went there with R&K on our tourist day. 

Check out the adorable little telephones!

Garden in the middle of the house. 'house'.

View from the palace
The maps were cool
Radio bunker room

And the park near the Independence Palace. Well cool. 

 Notre Dame. Even HCMC has its own. 

War Museum. I tried to persuade T to come to the museum. “No, I've done it already,” he said. Come on, I said, it's just a museum. T laughed and said he definitely is not doing it again.

Outside the museum
I now do understand why. It was one of those experiences you don't want to start trying to describe since words do not do it justice. Very emotional and... just makes you think why?, and I'm sure well over 50% of all visitors feel like shedding a few tears at some point. The pictures were very graphic.

One did very much judge some guy who walked around the museum in a big hat with 'American' written on it multiple times, taking many pictures with his phone without even putting the loud camera-sound on silent...

Fine Arts Museum. Not that I'm particularly into Fine Arts, I went more to be sociable. Interesting experience though, and especially the outside 'room' (what is a room when it is outside??) was cool. One of the many plusses of Vietnam is that you don't even feel you're wasting money on museums that may not excite you massively – this one cost 10,000 so about 30p. (And even the popular war museum cost just 15,000, just under 50p.)
'Uncle Ho's house'

Bui Vien. Yes, I'd done Bui Vien already – the first street I ever went on two weeks ago, where I had my first ever breakfast and got “moto-bike, moto-bike”-d for the first time. (Ah, so long ago) Bui Vien, backpacker street, love it. With a wide array of restaurants and bars, these sit-outside-on-miniscule-plastic-chairs-and-drink-50p-beers being the most typical. (And I never thought I'd ever drink beer...)
Fire-eating kids as street performers (not Fire eating kids, lol) . Not sure how I feel about that, but he was very talented!
With R (my Lille-friend) and K :) 

Many cool new restaurants/cafés/bars of varying levels of coolness/cheapness/awesomeness. Like the rooftop bar. Apparently the moon looks very different here than what it does in Europe. I wish I'd studied the moon more in Europe. Now my main sense of location-overwhelmement comes from googlemaps. Lol.
One of the many rooftop views <3
Avocado sushi at cool Japanese place
Steamed Notopterus place

Xe oms. Ah well this is an experience. I actually dunno how much locals actually use them, but anyways, motorbike taxis. In most European countries, if a random man comes to pester you with offers to take you on a motorbike ride, stay far, far away. Here, it's the norm way to travel. I was not particularly ready to undertake this new mode of transport with a person I'd never met before, but was persuaded to by my friend E who just matter-of-factly stated that it is by far the easiest, cheapest, quickest way to get around in my situation. I was well paranoid before it, bombarding him with questions like “where do I put my bag?” and “where do I hold on?” and, when about to climb on, “can I touch the driver?” (prior to arrival here in Vietnam I read so many these-are-the-vital-cultural-differences-to-note-with-UK-and-Vietnam so packed with random-ass rules like “thou shalt not show the soles of your feet since that is considered very rude” that I really never know what is 'appropriate' or not). E even kindly negotiated the price for me (never over 30,000!) and, well, suddenly there I was, on the back of a motorbike of a random Vietnamese guy, whizzing through the streets of Saigon, swerving in and out of the traffic, sometimes taking to the pavements to advance quicker. (Literally, here, do not think you are safe from motorbikes anywhere. Ever.)

The closest I can compare it to is a rollercoaster ride. I feel like I'm on a constant adrenaline high here. So much fun. And it is so understandable why people love their motorbikes so much. You can't squeeze between two buses with a car, you can't take to the pavements if you are a car (or a bus). Motorbikes get you places so much quicker. And, in comparison to walking, well, unless you're walking early morning or late night, it is just TOO HOT to walk long distances. (And, additionally, if you're me, you get lost 88% of the time.) (Not that that stops me from trying to navigate my way by foot, over and over again, ending up exasperated and frustrated with myself and my life and the streets.)
My first xeom burn blister, which was popped by another xeom burn blister, it looks even sexier now

Traffic Photos. There you go.

Paradise Pool. L is a keen swimmer, and she discovered this... swimming pool. Except it's not your typical indoor pool, but a paradisey outdoor pool. Closest I have got to the feelings of swimming in this pool was being at Majorca. And I must say, this pool was indeed fancier. (Though hotter. After a while you really had to get out just coz it was so stuffy.)

Condensed milk. Hotel breakfast. This is the milk you get in your coffee in this country if it is not powdered.
Add caption

Being puzzled over the English translations of menus. Or just even the plain menus.
Steamed Notopterus Fish with Green Carbage anyone?
Or maybe just a garlic fried blood cockle?

Feeling vague embarassment for the translators of some English menus.
Erm... I'll pass
Oh and also in hotel rules. Literally out of all the possible words THAT one was left out. Lolololololol.

Oh and one more... Last one, I promise!!

And last but so definitely not least... SINH TOS. I think I've actually overdosed on smoothies a bit. I had to take a break of about 24h. 
Smoothie street stall 
Voila :)
And that is probably a good place to stop. :)

Bizzzzz to y'allsssssss 


  1. 1. Perhaps you could become an official translator for notices, instructions, etc.
    2. I hope your blister is/blisters are getting better fast! (Please don't let them get infected!)
    3. Why did I think Bien Hoa was to the north-west from Saigon?
    4. What an enjoyable and amazing time you are having!

    1. 1. Haha that would take away all the fun!
      2. Fingers crossed!
      3. I dunno, I think I probably thought that and gave you the wrong image. :P
      4. :)
      Haleja <3

  2. Courtyard, perhaps - an outside room, that is...
    I notice the Vietnamese smoothie girl has used the same hair dye as you...
    Did you take the traffic pix from the back of your motorbike?
    BTW, normally when I click one of your pictures it comes up big, these didn't...
    lotsaluv, Zz

    1. Ummm no I didn't take photos from the back of my motorbike. Will do one day tho 4sho!! that's weird about the pics, there's nothing different about them... :O