The taxi was simple in the morning, and we were soon through security and left to wander the modern terminal waiting for our 12:25 flight to Saigon. (Or Ho Chi Minh). We got on the Ryanair type plane (Jetstar) and took off in bad weather, which meant a degree of turbulence. I fell asleep and woke to the pilot announcing we would soon begin our descent. Leia had not enjoyed the flight at all, thinking we were going to crash the whole way.
I think it was made worse by the recent Russian plane crashing, and in the last couple of years there have been a number of high profile disasters from the missing Malaysia air flight and one being shot down over Ukraine, to the pilot who sent the plane into a mountain on purpose. These things get into the back of your mind and every jolt or patch of turbulence sends your head spinning.
However, we made it to Ho Chi Minh! Swiftly through baggage claim and into a taxi after trying to find the best deal. We were then ripped off as the metered driver was more expensive than the supposedly expensive official companies.
It was only a pound or so difference and in awful weather we arrived at the Sunland hotel, an ironic name given the current weather. The room was lovely but we’ve had a couple now which have almost see through doors or windows which makes for awkward shower time.
There was an outdoor pool and rooftop bar but neither were tempting as the rain poured down, a shame as it would’ve been nice to have those facilities in better weather.
The rain subsided around four and Liam had found a district with bars and restaurants so we duly followed his lead. Hungry as we hadn’t eaten since breakfast we stopped at a tiny plastic chairs-and-tables-eatery and just nodded to whatever the lady said. The food we were served up was excellent, flavoured rice, two slabs of fried tofu, egg strips, shrimp, a weird grey slab that had a meaty flavour and rubbery texture and a few other bits. Soooo good and less than a quide each!
We carried on walking and started to notice the amount of bikes here was crazier than Hanoi! They even came up onto the pavement, speeding past us blaring their horns to give us scant warning.
By this point we were aces at crossing these busy, every man for himself roads and didn’t flinch as we walked across roads with bikes, cars and buses speeding either side of us. The secret is just go and don’t stop, just hope they’ll avoid you.
We’d walked for a while and made it to district 3, not seeing a bar we stopped off at a bbq place to have a beer and a rest. The bbq looked amazing and reminded me of Korean food, drinking up we went wandering to find the bars, after half an hour of not seeing any bars whatsoever we started to think something wasn’t quite right, an hour went past and we hadn’t seen any tourists just lots of Vietnamese restaurants. This was meant to be the area full of bars and nightlife, after asking in a phone shop we were sent down a st which didn’t look particularly promising, until we finally stumbled across a bar.
Inside we were taken to a table and e ordered 3 tiger beers for 30,000 Dong each. We got hand wipes and spicy coated peanuts and the waiters were never far away, even coming over to light Liam’s cigarette.
Connecting to the WiFi we searched for the hot spot of Saigon to be told it was 30 minutes walk back the way we came, Gutted! The next thing we know the bar has added the hand wipes and nuts to the bill, taking it from 90,000 to 166,000! I couldn’t be bothered to argue so we paid and left slightly frustrated.
Half an hour later we had made it! Bars spilt out before us and we were spoilt for choice, we ran to the first one and ordered 3 beers, sat down and relaxed.
There were a lot of beggars selling their wares, one offering us cigarettes, then marijuana, cocaine and finally ecstacy! Swiftly declining I suddenly found myself being massaged by an over exuberant man. Declining he continued till I gave a firm no.
Afterwards I wish I’d gone for it as it was only 50,000 (£1.50) and the preview had been pretty good.
We left this bar, but not before I uswed the bathroom and as I walked through to the door a cockroach fluttered down past my face to land a foot away. I just cannot get to grips with them and it still made me shudder as I stepped over it on the way back.
The next bar we hit had a live band on, they turned out to be pretty good, doing covers of Adele, Bill Withers and Red hot chillis. We sang along badly and they were very energetic. We headed out to see what the rest of the streets were like and ended up in a bar sat outside. It was great to watch the Saigon world go by and we noticed a rooftop bar just down the road that looked great from where we sat.
The next thing I know the massage man is back! This time I went for it and it was incredible albeit very hard, he worked my back and shoulders and even cracked my neck as I sat drinking a beer. It was so good I gave him 100,000 instead of 50,000 Dong. Liam went for it at the bargain price and enjoyed it, although found it a little too rough. Once he’d finished with Liam he came back for me and did the whole thing again for me. It felt great, I liked that he wanted to give me quality for my money as well.
Super chilled we went to explore the skybar, the views were amazing as you could see all over the city and the prices were the same as the streets below. It was maybe a bit too relaxing but after the four hours of walking we needed it.
Ready to face the walk back we kept a look out for street food but ended up in a McDonalds. I couldn’t bring myself to get one but the others scoffed theirs down. An hour later after getting a little lost again we made it to the hotel, tired from all the walking and knowing that tomorrow was sight seeing day, so more walking!