The breakfast was pretty standard this morning, but it's included in the price at least. Just had toast with jam and a coffee. There was fruit as well but we didn't fancy that. We headed out after breakfast to the big market to get some new silk sleeping bags as we had got rid of our old ones when we had bed bugs. It took us a while to find them and the market was crazy! People were literally standing in front of our faces asking us what we wanted to buy and trying to sell us stuff. They would grab your arm or tap your arm and the isles were so small, with stalls on either side, so you couldn't get away from it! We eventually got what we were after though and got the hell out of there!
We walked up to the museum after, stopping at a shop that did meals for some lunch. It cost us 37p for some meatballs and noodles and it had a seating area! So cheap! We walked up to The War Remnants Museum, which is mainly about the American phase of the Vietnam War, but also included some information and exhibits relating to when the French were in power of Vietnam.
When we got to the museum it was shut for lunch so we went to a cafe and relaxed for an hour and had a coffee until it opened. It only cost 15,000 dong to get in- just short of 50p! The museum was very confusing in the way it was set out and didn't seem to start at the beginning and give any introduction regarding the war etc. We ended up going to the top floor first, where we found the history of the war section and worked our way down the floors and through the years. Very odd way to set it out!! It was very interesting though and we both again learnt many things that we didn't know. We have had so many history lessons whilst travelling!! Our heads were frazzled again with all the information, we had to keep taking time out to process and discuss it.
The museum helped us think and understand a lot about why Vietnam is the way it is- the same as the Pol Pot Regime did with Cambodia. It explains why Vietnam is so poor in many areas- the War only ended 40 years ago and everything was destroyed. The war killed more civilians than soldiers leaving many people homeless and refugees and destroying everything they had. It also explained a lot about the amount of disabled people we have seen in Asia and people that had no limbs as it explained about the Americans dropping Dioxin poising on the land, known as Agent Orange. The dioxin poisoned the soil, the water- everything - and killed many people and left many disabled, as well as the 2nd and 3rd generations to come. It is still affecting people today and all the land and soil is not yet rid of the poison. What a terrible thing to do and the awful effect it has had on the people of Vietnam and people in Cambodia, even to this day! There were many things that the Americans did which where beyond any war. They slaughtered and tourtered many many civilians, who were no part of the war. They killed women and children and destroyed whole villages. It was horrendous. Vietnam has done so well to rebuild itself the way it has over the last 40 years!
The museum also made us think about why so many people in Vietnam, well in Saigon, speak such good English and why they have such weird accents. Some seem to have a sort of Vietnamese-American accent and the war may explain why. The war also gives some understanding as to why people in the North of Vietnam are not suppose to be as friendly as the south. It was the south that fought with the Americans against the North, until the North defeated their armies and liberated Vietnam.
After the museum we walked back through a different part of town towards the Saigon River. We walked through the French (Saigon) part of town, which was very strange. It was like stepping into a different city. A French one. We could see how the French still had much of an influence on Vietnam and it was still very much a predominant part of Vietnam. We passed a couple of sights like Notre Dame Cathedral and the famous French Post Office before coming to the river. The river was huge and had massive boats on. We didn't get much of a change to see it though as we were in a rush to get to the sky tower viewpoint for sun set so said we would come back on the last day.
We got to the Saigon Sky Deck in good time. It is located in the Bitexco Financial Tower, which is a huge skyscraper that is 68 floors high and has Vietnams first helicopter pad on the 52nd floor. The building is used for various things such as offices, but on the 49th floor it has a sky deck that has 360 degree views of the city. On floor 50 is a cafe and floor 52 is a bar, which you could access with your ticket for the sky deck. The ticket to the sky deck cost 200,000 dong each (about £6.50) and we had to get in the Otis double-decker lift with a specialised Compass System which is the most modern and advanced elevator system in Vietnam. It took 30 seconds to reach the 49th floor and it made your ears pop! The building has a height of 262.5m, making it the 124th tallest building in the world. It is also the 5th most iconic skyscraper in the world- according to their records.
The sky deck had huge glass windows all the way around the whole floor and you could see the whole of the city centre, which was so much bigger than we thought! It went on for miles and miles in every direction. It was so much more built up than we thought too- it was unbelievable! And the parts that weren't built up, had plans for the future and building work was in process. There was a tunnel that went under the river too to reach the other districts on the opposite side. As far as the eye could see there were masses of buildings and high rise buildings- god knows how far it went on. It wasn't at all what you would imagine Vietnam to look like- well not at least what we imagined! It really was breathtaking! Probably the best viewpoint tower we had been to- and the highest!!
We spent the rest of the night at the tower. We went to the sky bar on floor 52 for sunset and shared a jug of beer. There was a live singer and a guitarist playing as well and we watched the huge sun set over the city and listened to some brilliant singing. It was a bit surreal! As the sun set you could see the smog over the city which looked strange. We sat and watched as it turned dark and the city lit up with neon lights for as far as you could see. Every building had bright lights decorating it. We enjoyed the sky bar for as long as possible and then headed back to the sky deck to get some last photos before heading out, back down the ride like elevator.
We hadn't eaten anything since 12 when we had the noodles so we were starving! We found a vender outside that was selling sub sandwiches, with what looked like gammon in. Whatever it was it was lovely! We got an ice cream as well on the way back and headed back to the room for the night. It had been such a brilliant day with two very different but fantastic sights!