Exploring Ho Chi Minh

Hey Dad,

So today I booked onto a small group tour to see the city. I got picked up to find I was the only one on my small group tour! Having a private tour guide was great, but I wouldn’t have minded meeting some other people. 

First stop was the war history museum. That was a no holds barred experience. The museum was (as you would expect) very one sided, and it had no sensorship or filter on what they were willing to show you. The majority of the museum was photographs. After the first handful my stomach was churning. The worst one by far was an image of an American soldier holding up what was left of a vietnamese local. There was not much left….. 

we then went to look around the church and the post office. The church looks like a smaller version of ‘Notre Dame’ and the post office, although having some architectural merit was filled with tourist stands, and a clock which showed the incorrect time for London. One tourist stand had this weird instrument on it, which the vendor started playing. She played Jingle Bells. Yep, Jingle Bells. I laughed.

From there over to Independence Hall. The vietnamese government no longer use the building, so it is set up as a display, with all the different rooms set up as if to hold a meeting. The basement was also a bunker, which was pretty cool to walk around.

Lunch was a ‘famous restaurant’. A local dish of beef and rice noodles. Not my favourite kind of food, but it is the supposed local dish. Well the beef didn’t look like beef, nor did it smell like beef. I was therefore unwilling to taste it to see if it was infact beef. I ate around the ‘beef’ and just ate noodles. I later found out it is a famous restaurant because Bill Clinton visited there in 2000. Score….. 

After a quick lunch, we went to China town. The place was packed! The guide took me round the temple there, and explained a little about Chinese history. I was on point with that, which she seemed very impressed with! – I didn’t tell her I was in China last week, so I must have come over pretty well. 
Then onto the Chinese market place. I have never been so claustrophobic. The market place was heaving, with stalls everywhere. The walkways were not even one person wide and the stalls were piled so full of items the vendors could not stand up. There were people trying to walk up and down, but no one had anywhere to go. Yuck. 

As that tour came to an end, I wondered around in search of something to do in the evening. The guide suggested a show of some kind. I went to a tourist information point and asked on ideas for things to do tonight. They recommended a water puppet show. A part of vietnamese heritage they said. OK then.
Well Dad, I am not sure what you would have made of it, it was definitely an experience. It was very well done, and it was supposed to be as authentic as possible I suppose, but it was all very odd, and very low budget. There were dragons dancing, a man riding a buffalo playing the flute, phoenix laying eggs, and more really random things. I am sure they would have made sense if I could understand the commentary that went with it. The six people making up the orchestra were the most impressive mind. The show was 45 mins, and that was definitely long enough. 

The rest of the evening was spent sailing up the Saigon River. It was very pleasant, however all the tables were set up so you could sit in your tour groups. There were six of us. Three were Russian, and two Chinese. Safe to say it was one of the more uncomfortable dinners I have had. I just sat there quietly, as the only words we knew collectively were hello. The rest of the boat were all on the same tour, from the outside it looked hopeful I may have some company. They were all French – so close! Oh well, no conversation for me.

The entertainment on the boat were ok, however they finished off their set by playing ‘Auld Lang Syne’. No joke, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and ‘Jingle Bells’ on the same day, at the end of February…. 
Well Dad, This trip was all about new experiences, today was definitely that! 
Night dad x

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