9th - 13th July 2009
We arrived in Ho Chi Minh City in the early afternoon and as with most large groups (nine people including Charlie and Izzie now) there was a bit of stress finding somewhere to stay that everyone liked.After that I needed a bit of Sam time and decided to go for a walk to find Nikki a bottle of alcohol for her birthday and found some Malibu as she likes coconut.
With that out of the way I bought a Saigon Beer and sat by a really busy roundabout to watch the chaos. I had just read Clarkson's Motorworld where he spoke of a stream of Hondaness and that now made complete sense. There was a constant flow of bikes so thick that the only safe way to cross a road is to hold the downstream hand of an old lady and let her lead you. Sounds crazy right and this is coming from someone who thought they had complete confidence crossing any road.
The next safest way is to pick a sparse moment and start walking slowly without looking. That way the bikes can predict where you'll be as they pass. Stopping, starting and looking is just dangerous.
After that we had some drinks and headed out to a place nearby called Go Go club. First we hit the roof top bar where Bri and Matt played back up to my Baby Baby song from Top Gun. Even after the guys helped me practice I couldn't quite get the timing right with the "Da Dum's" after all the drinks but it still went down great with Nikki.
Next Nikki and Kahlee danced with a prostitute then Nikki had a huge black guy flick beer in her face when she said it was her birthday. She didn't tell me then though because I would have cracked it with him and it would have got messy.
Later on we ended up on the street out the front where a man was glassed by a prostitute. Within moments he had antiseptic powder on a large cut behind his ear and was whisked away to hospital by another pro on the back of her scooter. He must have said or done the wrong thing to her to for the attack that was in front of heaps of people and even the tourist police but she got away.
In the one hundred meter walk back to the guesthouse there was a group of young girls that were running past us brushing our pockets to find our valuables. Kate was straight onto it and chased them laughing and grabbed one holding her upside down. It was hilarious.
With a bit of a hangover we headed to Cu Chi tunnels to see about the intricate underground tunnels by the Vietcong that made them so dangerous during the Vietnam War. On the way we stopped at a disabled handicraft workshop where people of all shapes and sizes made beautiful plates and artwork of all shapes and sizes.
When we arrived at Cu Chi tunnels it was ridiculously hot as always. The tunnels were interesting to see but as the original tunnels were made only big enough for Vietcong and not big enough for Americans everything we went in was either enlarged or not originally used in the war. Bri and I climbed in one of the hatches that Charlie would pop out of shoot someone then disappear into without a trace. We all walked down a tunnel that even though it was an enlarged version of an original it was very tiring to walk down. I was exhausted after forty meters and there is hundreds of kilometres of tunnels they use in complete darkness.
To combat the heat we went to a water park that was really fun. There was all the normal slides and wave pool with a few extras. There was a flying fox that had a stopper at the end that sent you hurtling into the air. I had done a huge backslapper on one when tubing at Vang Vieng so was able to learn from that and executed a perfect back flip. My favorite though is the tornado.It is a long steep dark tunnel that spits you into a large bowl with a hole in the middle. After you circle the bowl at high speed about four times you fall through the whole with the elegance of a cow being born.
Bri, Kate and Kahlee headed off to Muinee together and Matt, Sian, Charlie, Izzie, Nikki and I stayed on to see the Independence palace where a tank stormed through the gates at the end of the war. We also saw the War Remnants Museum that was very sobering and had lunch at Pho 2000 a noodle restaurant that Bill Clinton spontaneously stopped his whole entourage to eat at.
That night we had drinks on Charlie and Izzie's balcony and then said goodbye to them as they were travelling the other way to us and on into Cambodia.