Three weeks. Three cities. Thirty five hours on a train. Man I love the Nam. Here’s how our holidays in Vietnam started…
The best holidays in Vietnam begin in Saigon
From the moment we landed at the Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Min City (Saigon) it felt totally chaotic. Despite having everything in order for our visa on arrival it still took nearly two hours to get through customs and immigration. The currency has a million zeroes to contend with. They drive on the wrong side of the road. Crossing the road is an adventure.
There’s no point in waiting for a break in the traffic. Just walk slowly, hold your nerve and the motorbikes and scooters weave around you. Not so scary after the first time. Except when the motorbike driver is sending a text message and not looking at pedestrians on the road.
We stayed in Ho Chi Min City’s District 5 for the first five days. Very local. Not a western franchise in sight.
I thought we were blending in until one morning I was just walking along the street and felt a slap on my bum. Looked round to see where it came from. Got a snarling grumpy glare from a local woman.
I still have no idea what it was about… They don’t do tourism in Vietnam in the same way as the other countries I’ve visited.
Traditional roast turkey Christmas holidays in Vietnam style
The other captain had his heart set on roast turkey etc on Christmas day so we signed up for the hotel’s buffet lunch. Free flow champagne (I really don’t think it came from that district in France) and beer plus an endless array of delicious food for about $25 a head. Including – well sort of – traditional roast turkey.
I asked for a slice off the traditionally roasted turkey’s leg. The server proceeded to chop at it with a cleaver, right through the bone. All to the soundtrack of Silent Night and Edelweiss on strict rotation. Christmas the Viet way.
The heart of Ho Chi Minh City
We moved in to the heart of Ho Chi Minh City for a few days after that. We checked out:
- Cu Chi Tunnels (an unforgettable experience deep inside a tunnel)
- War Remnants Museum (if you want a taste of anti-Americanism this is the place to find it)
- Independence Palace Historic Relic (underwhelming or maybe I just didn’t get it?)
… and generally wandered around soaking up the atmosphere. Then we booked our tickets for the train to Hanoi.
Holidays in Vietnam are awesome.