Thursday, September 24, 2009

Day 3 - 5/9/09

In true fashion I woke at 4am local time (I usually do that in NZ). An ablution later Karen and I had a discussion about the room temperature then promptly returned to a deep sleep finished off by a good pillow dribble to awake from a coma at the 6.30am alarm. A quick turnaround, we ventured to the same bar of last night to behold our included breakfast. Well, from a well travelled, blasé perspective, I was impressed! The food, surroundings and service were exemplary. Karen unwittingly ordered three sets of eggs. Mortified, she ate the first lot, denied the second and foolishing let go the third. I did a good five plates of scrambled eggs, 2 x fresh fruits including pomeroy, passionfruit, guava, pineapple and watermelon, more sausages/hash browns/dim sums/tomoatos etc. I thumbed my nose to my sensitive innards and didn’t pay the price.

Hurriedly, yet relaxed we made the 8am meet with the tour guide. ‘Hugh’and Kiet the driver. Bundled into our local chariot we wound our way through the frenetic streets of Saigon weaving in fluid like motion through the plethora of cars and motorcycles to our tourist hot spot “ Çuchi” (pronounced Koochy) tunnels thirty kilometres from the city. We were walked through the international tourist destination step by step, climbing into the tunnels, viewing the booby taps and enthralled by the knowledgeable banter of our guide. After three hours of reliving the history and the atrocities of days gone by we were ferried back to the modern day sanctuary of all five stars to the Majestic Hotel.

Hunger pangs had set in so we rushed to the hotel’s pool area and ordered cocktails and a snack in a bid to assuage them. Relaxed by the pool we ate, drank and were Mary. A few lengths later we planned our next onslaught. With extra bag in hand we headed for the Ben Thang market. About fifteen minutes walk from the hotel we witnessed the streets (and crossing them – one big adrenalin rush) and found our undercover ‘’Äladdin’s Cave.’’

On a mission we entered the myriad of stalls sometimes like a vanishing point surrounded by octopus like arms grabbing and shepherding you into their particular shops. We bartered like locals revelling in the power struggle. Braver and wiser we exited armed with well thought out souvenirs of our time in Saigon. From ball gowns to lacquered kitchenware we had it all covered.

Sated but unspent we marched back in the general direction of our accommodation pausing only to partake of refrigerated caffeine drinks atop plastic stools on an amazingly busy intersection. We stopped briefly to purchase family loads of head protection (unimaginative and unobtainable at home). With a hunger brewing we returned to our well appointed rat hole to prepare for an evening of introspection and adventure for our last night in Saigon.

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