I said my goodbyes and left Phu Quoc relatively early on whatever day it was (think it was the 9th). The mini bus to the ferry was pretty humourous because we, along with all the luggage, were more or less packed in like sardines! When I boarded the ferry, I was somewhat perturbed because the water was pretty choppy and I suffer from motion sickness. I have, in the past, been destroyed by a ferry ride. Much to my relief though, a combination of the water becoming milder and me falling asleep, meant that any potential motion sickness was avoided! Me falling asleep whilst on a form of public transport is actually a newly developed backpacker ability! The bus on the other side of the water took longer to reach Saigon than was necessary, but it was still comfortable enough.
I ate some crap at a service station on the way up, so decided to just grab some snacks and hide in my hostel dorm man cave (curtains!) for the rest of the evening and watch some TV.
The first proper day in Saigon turned into a belter. Since I spent weeks in Pai and then a week and a half in Phu Quoc, I'd actually done minimal tourism / sightseeing in over a month. I therefore thoroughly enjoyed getting out and exploring the city a little. My first stop was the War Museum. As one would expect, there's some pretty sobering stuff in there but it was a very informative visit. There's a lot of exhibits etc on show in the museum, but a lot of it - which was also my favourite - comprised of war photography. Some of the photographs on show were refreshingly frank and not always for the faint hearted, especially photographs of Orange Agent victims. However, one element of the museum that niggled me is that there was a stall just after the Orange Agent section, which was being "manned" by a deformed human - presumably an Orange Agent. I found it to be exploitative to both the visitor and, more importantly, the man himself.
After the museum, I went over to Independence Palace, which was built in the mid 1960's and was the home / workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the war. Given that it's called a "palace", I found it refreshingly functional in design given some of the albeit older palaces we have in the UK! From the outside, it could probably quite easily be mistaken for an older school / university in some parts of the world. I enjoyed the visit but naturally, the scourge of the Chinese tourist (see Bangkok blog), was never far away! From memory, I called it quits on the tourism after that and went to the hostel.
At some point during the day, I was reminded that it was my birthday! I think I mentioned in a previous blog - days and dates are irrelevant!
In the evening, I went out for food with someone from the hostel, but whilst walking along the street I randomly bumped into a couple of northern lads that I met in northern Thailand! It kinda shows how small the world is! We agreed to meet up later for a few beers. It turned into more than a few beers, but it was my birthday after all! It was, however, a very enjoyable night on what they call walking street. At the same time, it was more exploitation because the prices were obscene!
During the course of the previous night, the lads said they were off to Mui Ne for a couple of days, so I thought I might as well join them since the flight tickets to Kuala Lumpur fluctuated and as much as I was enjoying Saigon, I didn't see the need to spend too many extra nights there.
But there was one day left in Saigon first. I emerged quite late and actually a bit hungover from the previous night. I decided to cure it with a burger and can confirm it did the job perfectly! I was going to have a completely lazy day but since I was feeling good again, I went to the art gallery in the city. The gallery wasn't too bad - my main reason for visiting them is to criticise as many artworks as possible, and I reckon I succeeded pretty well on this occasion! I didn't do much for the rest of the day after that.
The following day, it was on the bus to Mui Ne, which is a resort town on the coast. I checked in to what I had assumed was classed as a party hostel. It was the first so called party hostel that I've stayed in so far, and it was actually pretty tame and relaxed! There isn't anything to do in the town itself other than chill at the beach or pool. I took a quick look at the beach when I arrived - pretty good but quite busy and very windy! I met the lads eventually and we joined a BBQ at the hostel. It was underwhelming, especially compared to the BBQ I had in Pai! But it turned into another fun night! I read somewhere at the hostel, in some official documentation or notice, that the bar closed at 4am. So I was somewhat disappointed to be informed before 3am that the place was closing! I stayed up for a bit after being kicked out of the bar, then a chair / sun lounger and then finally kicked out of a security booth area!
I woke up the next day feeling surprisingly fresh, but it was a designated chill out day. Very little happened during the day - me and one of the lads played pool for a bit and then in the pool. We ended up moving onto the alcohol quite early and getting embroiled in a few drinking games! Much fun was had - some caffled earlier than others! But not me obviously. Later in the night, I ended up going on a search for food - one of the guys I randomly met at the music festival in Phu Quoc. Which I actually forgot about initially! We ended up at a local place where some guys were still out drinking. We managed to get some food and they very kindly gave us a couple of free beers. I then thought they were looking after us by offering a transparent liquid in a water bottle. It wasn't water. Luckily (especially given how drunk I was) I smelt it first - it turned out to be rice wine / whiskey - which is strong s***! A few of us who can handle that ended up having a couple of shots each, but that was enough! We separated after that - I ended up back at the hostel bar, to discover it was closing even earlier than the previous night! I chilled out for a bit again before taking myself to bed, since I had a bus to catch back to Saigon the following morning.
I managed to force myself up for breakfast, but only just and the service took a while, so I didn't have enough time for a wash or to brush my teeth before heading out to catch the bus! I didn't feel hungover though so it turned into a decent enough bus ride. That said, when I arrived in Saigon, I did nothing other than head out for a curry later in the evening. Wise choice because it turned out to be one of the best curries I've had in ages.
Today, my final day in Saigon, has been pretty relaxing. I caught up on the sleep and didn't emerge until after 11! I got a Grab bike (best invention ever - costs about £0.40 per ride!) to Saigon Skydeck with the intention of paying a visit. Then I remembered I'm a backpacker and on a budget, and that I wanted a relatively expensive burger for tea...so I weighed it up while taking a random wander around the wealthy financial area, and in the end the burger won! No brainer really. Back at the hostel, I decided to do a full repack of by bag for possible the first time since I started travelling, and then knocked up this blog. Way longer than expected and usual, but these things happen! Hope you weren't too bored if you made it this far!
But now, I'm heading out for the aforementioned burger, with every intention of enjoying it to the maximum! Up early in the morning, so I'm forcing myself to behave.
I will likely be back in Saigon when I return to vietnam in February - cracking city!