31st July 2012
Up this morning and down to breakfast at 09:00. Could really do with a bit more sleep but we leave for the airport at 10:30 so it's breakfast and finish packing. No one who was out the night before is at breakfast and I must look rough as Sharon says I look worse than when I got off the overnight train. Other people start to appear and much like me no one has a hangover just a lack of sleep. 10:30 we jump on the bus and head to the airport and once we check in a small group of us head to Burger King which is the first time iv had junk food since I got here. We get on our flight at about 13:30 and result I have an aisle seat at the emergency exit, time to stretch out and have a snooze. An hour later I'm woken by the plane landing the last thing I remember was take off. We grab our bags and jump on our bus and head to the hotel. Once we get there we check in and then Bond takes us out into the city to visit the market. There are only about 7 of us as the rest decide to chill out at the hotel. Roger and I wander round the market and the head back towards the hotel stopping at one point for a beer and something to eat. We all meet at 19:30 for dinner and when I order my drink there's laughter from some members of the group after I say " I will have a sprite ". I say I'm having a night off the drink ( only Roger knows about the afternoon beer!) After dinner we decide to go to a bar and I say I will go but I'm not drinking we walk into the bar and I have no idea what happened but the words " Tiger beer please " just came out. After lots of laughs and jokes about that's a funny looking sprite we finish our drinks and head to bed. We are going to the Cu Chi tunnels in the morning and we are leaving at 8:30. Tomorrow will be our last day together as a group as some leave as their trip was only Vietnam and we are joined by another 7 travellers.
Fasten your seatbelts as Ho Chi Minh City is a metropolis on the move – and we’re not just talking about the motorbikes that throng the streets. Saigon, as it’s known to all but city officials, is Vietnam at its most dizzying: a high-octane city of commerce and culture that has driven the whole country forward with its limitless energy. It is a living organism that breathes life and vitality into all who settle here, and visitors cannot help but be hauled along for the ride.
Saigon is a name so evocative that it conjures up a thousand jumbled images. Wander through timeless alleys to ancient pagodas or teeming markets, past ramshackle wooden shops selling silk, spices and baskets, before fast-forwarding into the future beneath sleek skyscrapers or at designer malls, gourmet restaurants and minimalist bars. The ghosts of the past live on in the churches, temples, former GI hotels and government buildings that one generation ago witnessed a city in turmoil, but the real beauty of Saigon’s urban collage is that these two worlds blend so seamlessly into one.
Whether you want the finest hotels or the cheapest guesthouses, the classiest restaurants or the most humble street stalls, the designer boutiques or the scrum of the markets, Saigon has it all. The Saigon experience is about so many things – memorable conversations, tantalising tastes and moments of frustration – yet it will not evoke apathy. Stick around this conundrum of a city long enough and you may just unravel its mysteries.