Sunday, 8 April 2012

Saigon gone

We touched down to Saigon airport and were amazed at how easy it was at this end, my backpack even ended up being the first off the conveyor belt! We negotiated a taxi into the centre and got dropped off at our hostel. We stayed at the Phran Anh Backpackers Hostel, but it is definitely a very POSH backpackers hostel, one of the best room's we've had and definitely the best bathroom. It was an absolutely bargain and I would recommend it to anyone.

The city itself has lots to see, most of it related to the Vietnam war and unfortunately as happens with war a lot of it not very pleasant but important to see nevertheless. We visited the Reunification Palace, both of us were slightly dissapointed as it looked more like a bad 70s government building than a palace and in our opinion was not really worth the 30,000 dong entrance fee, you could join a free guided tour but you were only allowed around about 4 rooms and to be honest we would have been just as happy looking at it from the outside.

There is some lovely architecture around the city and we enjoyed just walking around enjoying the parks and people watching. You can even partake in a bit of exercise if you fancy it, although it's not necessarily advisable in the 34 degree heat! Dan still decided to show off a little bit...

One museum you should definitely visit is the War Remants Museum, it's only 15,000 dong to enter and it is WELL worth the entrance fee, we spent a good two and a half hours looking around, and it definitely makes you think. There are many artifacts from the Vietnam War, as well as an exhibition on the Prisoner of War camps. The Agent Orange exhibition is very harrowing and upsetting in places but interesting to read and understand more. There is a slight Vietnam bias throughout the museum but that is to be expected. Definitely do not miss this museum if you are in Vietnam.

Finally we went on a tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels, we had a very entertaining tour guide who went by the name of Mr Bean, he literally lectured us for two and a half hours about the war, and he seemed to hate everything, Vietnam, Communists, Capitalism, American's, English. I'm not really sure what he liked but it definitely was not a boring bus journey and he was a great tour guide if slightly crazy...

The tunnels themselves were very interesting and was fab to learn about the guerilla fight, both Dan and I decided to do the tunnels but I had to give up half way through as everyone in front kept stopping and it was getting smaller and smaller and I got very panicky and claustrophoic so was very thankful for the little escape routes dotted throughout the tunnel. It's definitely an experience and I'm glad I did at least half of it! I definitely have a lot of respect for the people who lived and fought in these tunnels for years.

One of the grass/bamboo traps
We both really enjoyed our time in HCMC and definitely preferred it as a city to Hanoi. Although it was very big it seemed to be easy to navigate and there was always lots happening! We have enjoyed our time in Vietnam however it definitely hasn't been our favourite place, we have met a lot of friendly and helpful vietnamese but unfortunately we have also met with a lot of hostile and unfriendly people which has some what tainted our experience. 

We are very excited to be moving on to Cambodia tomorrow but are somewhat apprehensive about our land border crossing, we'll let you know how it goes in the next blog post!

See you on the other side,

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