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  • Day2

    A Second Taste of Vietnam

    September 1, 2019 in Vietnam ⋅ 🌧 28 °C

    Exiting the street of old wares, Le Cong Kieu, we turn a corner and see the Bitexco Tower almost right in front of us. Actually, it's a few blocks away but its size brings it closer. We are debating whether to go there or bypass it and head straight for the Notre Dame cathedral when Richard is approached by a man with the familiar question, "Where you from?" The gentleman is a cycle taxi driver and after a photo and being joined by his mate, Richard asks how much to take us to the Notre Dame cathedral. He replies "500". We have not yet learned that for reasons of simplicity the Vietnamese tend to drop the last three zeroes from numbers when referring to prices but while I am still mentally converting what seems like a ridiculously small amount in my head, thinking, "this can't be right, I wonder if he means 500,000 and maybe we should have clarified and negotiated" we are already in the seats and on our way.

    They take us past the markets, through the park, around the Imperial Palace and drop us off across the road from the cathedral. Richard later remarks that he doesn't feel so bad about paying $35 to a guy who is the same age as us to lug us around in tropical heat in the middle of the day. But the heat is sapping Richard's energy and he lays down in the shade of a tree while I go off to photograph squirrels.

    Once he feels rested we head for the cathedral which, typically it seems for us, is under tarpaulins and scaffolding. We take a few pics and decide not to join the crowds going inside. Instead, I potter around the tourist shops in the old Post Office building while Richard enjoy's some McDonald's aircon.

    Batteries recharged we hit the streets and head for Ben Thanh markets. The food markets are a compromise between authentic Vietnamese street food and sit down eating aimed at tourists; a way for tourists to claim they have tried the local street food. But there's some pretty amazing stuff on offer. We have some prawn dumplings, a pork roll and some chicken with noodles and veg before venturing inside the main market proper. This is a fairly imposing space with narrow alleys and stalls with goods spilling out in all directions. We traverse the length of the market, trying to avoid being accosted before quickly exiting to make our way back to the hotel.

    We decide to have dinner in tonight as the girls have shouted us dinner for Father's Day. The meal is delicious; spicy barbecued prawns, pork belly and whole fish.
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