A walk with a slight hangoverNovember 9, 2016 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 32 °C
The morning after can be a testing time, and this morning was no different. After a few drinks the night before, and a warm and humid climate, were both feeling more than a bit green. But we are on holiday, and we weren't going to let something as small as a hangover, restrict our day.
Given that we weren't at our best, we tried to keep the day as relaxing as possible. We spent it exploring more of the city on foot, and also taking the US Consulate up on an open invitation to watch the US election unfold at a conference centre they had rented out.
First stop on the walk was City Hall, followed by a wander down Nguyen Hue Boulevard, which runs between City Hall and the Saigon River. Along the boulevard we came across the obligatory statue of Ho Chi Minh, and the Saigon Opera House, which was unfortunately largely cordoned off as a result of construction work.
Saigon is building a mass transit system, that will include both subway, and elevated rail, and the area around the opera house will become a large subway station. With so much work going on, it wouldn't be surprising for us to come back to HCMC in ten years, and not recognise a thing.
Arriving at the water, we followed in around until we had to turn away to head towards the US consultate election party. The walk to the conference centre felt like it took forever, but in the end, it took exactly as long as we had expected it too. It was just incredibly hot. The election party was very well done, and very relaxed, given that it wasn't at the actual US Consulate, and all the security that that would entail. There were soft drinks, cakes, donuts, and all manner of other Americana for people to use free of charge. There were plenty of people there, including a very large number of Vietnamese, rather than American expats, which is what we had expected. It was definitely a Hillary room, and so the mood was more than a bit sombre, despite the fact that in all the time we were there, the election had yet to be decided. It just looked very ominous. And so it would turn out to be.
After watching the results of the American election come in, we wandered back towards our hotel and the Ben Thanh Street Food market to get some lunch. It is pretty safe way for tourists to dip their toes into the local cuisine. What we had was decribed as a fusion of Vietnamese and Western cuisines, but realistically, it was Vietnamese food for tourists. Very tasty, but very touristy. We could have had something more authentic, but we were just not feeling like thinking.
After our late lunch, we headed back to the hotel, and booked ourselves a tour to the Cu Chi tunnels for the following day. Research is important if you have the time, because the price of these tours can vary wildly, and no two people will pay the same price. How much you pay depends on the number of middle men you deal with, and how brave they are in their attempt to maximise their commission. We bought online as it was easiest. Hangovers have a tendency to do that to you.
Having booked the next days activities, it was time to go for a late afternoon walk, to try and find a gym for Courtney. We were directed to one by the hotel, but on arrival quickly decided that US$20 per visit was slightly more than was reasonable. So we placated Courtney's need to exercise by walking to the Central Post Office, and Cathedral, which are next to each other. Also next door, a McDonalds. We stopped and had an ice cream.
We then searched for an ATM that would accept out bank card, which was a bit difficult. But on the tenth ATM, one eventually gave us some money. Getting cash in Asia has been much harder than we would have liked. Whether it is technology, or the banks refusing to accept Mastercard, or the ATMs operating to normal bank hours, it has been a joy.
But having got some cash, we headed to get out dinner at a local vegan restaurant. We could be sure that way, that Courtney could have anything on the menu.
And then the day was over.Read more