Ho Chi Minh, a mixed bag.

Ok Dad the last 24 hours have been interesting. 

The flight was an hour late leaving Shanghai! I was in a window seat and I had a guy sitting next to me. It dawned on me rapidly the aisle seat was empty. Result! – or so I thought.  The muppet did not move into it. Instead he stayed sitting in the middle seat! I mean who does that?! If you have the opportunity to have a tiny bit more space on a night flight surely you take it? While I remained crammed in the corner trying to get some sleep on a 4 hour flight, he made no use of all the space next to him. Useless. Fortunately the whole row in front of me was empty, which the crew were using for pillow storage so I was able to shove my legs through the gaps and put my seat back so I did manage to get a small amount of sleep, which was just as well, as unknown to me by this point that would be the only sleep I would be getting….. 

Sorting out the visa was simple enough, and my transfer was waiting for me at the door. Only the travel company had told him the wrong hotel. I had to try and explain I would be checking into that hotel in three days time to start the Cambodia tour. He eventually got it and drove me to the hotel I had booked. 
Out the window the area seemed to be getting more dodgy. I had booked this hotel in haste as I needed an address for the transfers. Well you know the old saying. The car pulled up and the driver looked at me. I so badly wanted to say no, take me back to the other hotel!
The roads were covered in rubbish, both food and human waste. It stank! As I tried to get out of the hotel, a hooker tried to climb in and offer her services. The driver sort of rushed me into the hotel, which involved climbing over a handful of mopeds. I was so exhausted, it was about 3am by this point. I checked in, and my room overlooked the road. The driver didn’t really look like he wanted to leave me there. 

I got into the room and looked around. There were tiny bugs over the bathroom and the bedding. Nope. 

Looking out the window there was basically a party going on. The streets were rammed with people and mopeds with horns. Nope.

The gutters were just full of rubbish, I can’t even describe it, but people were sitting in it eating this discusting looking Street food. It was so loud. Nope.

I figured pretty quickly this was not right. I was the wrong end of town, in some shanty local district. 

Bottom line in the end was I did not feel safe. I did not feel safe inside the hotel, and I definitely did not feel safe leaving it. As it was 3am there was not much I could do about it. The hotel staff also held onto my passport, which I really did not like. I got online and had two wonderful friends at home look up hotels and ratings for them to get me somewhere sensible. 
I did not sleep an inch. I tried, but not a chance. By 8am I had given up. 
I made the foolish mistake of looking out the window to see what the street looked like in daylight. The rubbish had been cleared, the street was relatively clean. However I now had a semi naked man on the balcony the other side of the street relieving himself over the side. NOPE.

(See the finger pointing?)

Time to go! 

As I had not unpacked a bean, and tried to sleep fully clothed it did not take long to shift me out. I went to check out, which they looked very confussed about. I said I no longer needed the next two nights. They explained they would charge me anyway – fine! Just get me out of here. 
Anyway I got to the new hotel and it is fine. It does make a travelodge at home look like a palace; but whatever. It is clean, bug free and it is in the main financial district. There are also tourists around, which there definitely was not before! It feels secure, with a man on the main door and a lock on the inside of your room door. This room as a safe too, so I feel better leaving things locked away in the room. 

So first morning sort of wasted, but necessary. 

After checking in and breathing a sigh of relief, I went for a wonder around. 

I walked along the water front and through what seemed to be a main square. The financial tower is the tallest building in Ho Chi Minh, and it had a viewing sky deck. This trip is sort of becoming ‘big building, better go up it’. 

The view was interesting. Modern skyscrapers surrounding slums and shanty towns. I tried to work out where the previous hotel was, but I couldn’t. 

Back down from the tower I carried on walking around. Whilst not sleeping last night I booked myself onto a group day tour for tomorrow to see all the iconic sites, so I avoided them today. 

The heat today was the biggest zapper of energy. It was 30+ degrees and muggy. No breeze and the pollution is horrific. After a while walking round I needed to be indoors. I think I could have coped with the heat if I had not been in freezing cold China for the two weeks before. I had only just acclimatised to that. Well as I was a short walk from the hotel I figured I would go and get another bottle of water from my room. The next thing I knew it was two hours later! I must have hit the deck pretty hard, I don’t even remember lying down. Sleep was needed though.
Back out to walk around some more. The city seems to come alive at night. People everywhere, and for once I am considered tall! Street vendors pop out of nowhere and run when police show up, kids are smoking, and you can buy cigarettes on practically every corner out of a suitcase. The traffic is just insane. The rule seems to be to just walk out in the road and the mopeds will avoid you. I have gotten in the habit of following someone else and making sure they are in the direct line of traffic. 

Not really sure what to make of this place yet, but seeing some architectural landmarks tomorrow should help that. Right now it seems to be pretty dirty, a little smelly and very backwards. Still, it’s a pretty fascinating place. 

Off to get some sleep! 

Night dad x


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