I finally finished going through all of the pictures over the weekend! Just in time for the family slideshow on Sunday (just over 500 pics for the slideshow). I have uploaded the albums to my Picasaweb account and plan on giving a bit more of a detailed account of the trip along with posting some videos. As usual – click on the above slideshow to see the album in higher resolution.
First night in Saigon went from calm to crazy very quickly. I ended up walking to a restaurant that the hotel had suggested, and it was PACKED. They ended up seating me with a family of three. It was a bit odd eating at the same table with a family I couldn’t communicate with, but the food was fantastic! They left fairly quickly, and others arrived. I think the amount of booze I drank that night has erased my name memory! Hopefully they come to the blog and remind me! But the husband and wife were from Malaysia and Northern Vietnam – his uncle from Malaysia, but living in the UK, and a Southern Vietnamese friend. We had a blast hanging out and talking about Vietnam! Then a few of us went out to a couple of clubs – it was nuts! They headed home and I took a cab and ended up at a local “tourist” bar – where I befriended and Austrian and an American expat. When I ran out of money (I didn’t bring all of it with me, thank god!) I headed to the other local tourist bar and met a few French and brits! I have no idea when I got back, but I had to ring the buzzer and wake up the staff. Oops! Suffice it to stay, LATE start yesterday. But I saw Paul, an expat from North Carolina, and he asked if I would like to hit the cafe. I hopped on his motorcycle and off we went! It was called “Cafe Windows” – and was the place to people watch. I stuck out like a sore thumb with shorts and hiking shoes! We then took a tour of a few districts in Saigon – the income disparity is quite obvious once you get out of District 1 (the city center). One of the districts reminded me of Miami, FL! We ended up getting Indian food for dinner (I was in need of something completely different) and I hit the sack early as I was exhausted. Woke up early this morning and took a boat ride up to the Cu Chi tunnels. Fascinating! Now I’m back and in need of USD for my trip to Cambodia! Apparently the local currency is worthless and everything is done in USD. I leave early tomorrow morning for a tour of the Mekgon Delta, a family stay, then a boat ride up to Camboia! Internet access might be sparse, so it might be a while until I post again. Thanks for all the great comments! Glad that you guys are enjoying following along!
I’m in Saigon, at the hostel and all is good (and free internet no less!). The first “snag” was when I got to immigration and they said that I had to get into another line for “visa on arrival” – this, after already waiting 20 min. No big deal, glad I printed my passport photo ahead of time (see TK, it was worth the wait!). There are no ATM machines inside the airport – and the exchange places wouldn’t take my travelers checks (anybody know what they are good for?!). I had just enough USD to pay the $25 passport stamp. So a taxi driver asks me what I’m looking for. He says there are no ATMs at the airport – but the lady inside said there was one just outside. When we got to it, it wasn’t working. In hindsight, I should have checked to make sure it was plugged in! He then said he would take me to the hostel for $15 (~225,000 dong). This seemed pretty expensive to me – but he and the LONG line for metered taxis convinced me. He stopped at an ATM as well. After getting to the hostel, and being very pleased that they had a room (with A/C even!), they said it should have cost me only 70,000 dong. D’OH! Oh well… at least he took me to the right place! Time to explore a bit of Saigon and get some food!