Ho Chi Minh City, VietnamDecember 24, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 32 °C
Today we got to experience Vietnam again as we visited the capital, Ho Chi Minh City. After a restless sleep, we woke up early to have a smaller breakfast. Since today we were going on an independent organised tour, we waited in the coffee shop area to meet our fellow travellers.
The rest of our crew were couples from Hawaii, South Africa and Northern Territory. We were supposed to be joined by another couple who never appeared on time. The eight of us departed the ship together and took the shuttle bus to the gates outside of the cruise terminal. This would've been quicker if someone on board the bus hadn't forgotten their bag.
Once outside the gates, we met our guide Huy, as well as our driver. We all boarded the mini-bus for the 1.5 hour drive into the city. On the drive in, there were lively discussions about what we would like to see, as one lady wanted to do more shopping, whilst one guy wanted to see the War Remnants Museum. Huy was able to provide individual tours for these two so the rest of us still did the main itinerary.
Our first stop was the fancy Rex Hotel which has a rooftop bar that was a well-known hangout spot for military officials and war correspondents in the 1960's. This was a good starting point to enjoy a coffee, use the wifi and get a great view of the city. The Vietnamese coffee I had was awesome, and so far was the best coffee I've had this holiday.
After taking a group photo, we walked to the nearby Opera House for some photos. Ted remarked how little traffic there was so we're assuming it's probably due to Christmas being tomorrow. Our next stop was the Thien Hau Temple which is a Chinese-style temple of the sea goddess Mazu. There were plenty of incense burners inside as well as an altar to Mazu. We saw Luc and Adam there too, who were doing a tour with a private guide.
We had been told that we would be doing a pedicab ride as part of our tour, and I think a lot of us were hesitant about it. We didn't need to be, as it was really fun. Ted and I both liked it as it took you right into the heart of the city where all the action was. Truthfully, I could've done it for longer! Sure it's a tourist trap but when you're having fun, does it matter?
We then went for a Pho lunch at Pho 2000, which is famous as a place that Bill Clinton went to during a trip to Saigon. Ted mentioned that he hadn't enjoyed Pho before, but this one was really good. I was the only person in our group having vegetarian and I similarly liked it.
We then headed to the Ben Tranh markets for some retail therapy. Ted and I were pretty much only interested in T-shirts so we managed to barter for a few, however we didn't get as many as we wanted! When it was time to meet up with our driver again, we couldn't find the Hawaiian lady Leilani who had asked to do extra shopping. Fortunately we didn't have to wait too long as we continued on.
One problem on this tour was that a lot of people disagreed on where we should go. Some wanted to keep touring, whilst others were worried about being late back to the cruise ship with the Vietnamese traffic. We ended up visiting the Minh Phương Art lacquer factory which was more interesting than it sounds. Ted and I were the only ones who listened to the demonstration but it was a shame the artworks were all so damn expensive!
The rain then started to pour down which wasn't surprising considering the humidity. As it turned out, the traffic wasn't too bad and we arrived back at the cruise ship in plenty of time. Once back to our room, we both had a much needed shower and I did some laundry, which is perfectly located right near our cabin.
The evening was nice and relaxing as we went to the buffet for dinner, and watched the crew singing Christmas Carols in the Atrium. We caught up with our group in the Wheelhouse Bar for evening drinks again afterwards. Christmas Day tomorrow!Read more