As some of you may know we stayed a lot longer in Saigon (as it is still referred to by everyone) than we wanted or expected!
We arrived at Pham Ngu Lao, the backpacker district at about 7pm, we found a nice hotel for $15 we then rushed out and had a steak dinner, I opted for a small burger, my belly was not 100%. We woke late after a long lie in and headed out for some breakfast, we had a quiet day looking around the area and checking out the prices for out tour of the Mekong Delta and onward travel into Cambodia.
The next day after breakfast we booked our trip, we are spending 3 days and 2 nights travelling around the delta and ending in Phnom Penh the Cambodian capital. We went back to the hotel and ended up sleeping for most of the afternoon, I think the bug must have really taken its toll on us. Once we got up we just chilled watching one of the 30 or so English channels on the cable TV!
We decided that today we must make sure we actually see some of the city, we headed out to the Reunification Palace, it was not too far but we walked slightly too far out of the way but found it none the less. The Reunification Palace is used for parlimentary meetings and the president has his office here. In 1975 when the South was overtaken by the North Vietnamese army, two tanks rolled through the gates and it was renamed the Independence Palace, the tanks are now on display in the grounds. We were given a booklet with a guide to the Palace which explained all of the rooms inside and the history of the building. Once inside some of the rooms, including the conference room and the presidents room for receiving head of states were very plush, but the presidents office and the gambling room were very 1970's and looked like they needed a revamp. On the top floor you can look out over the front of the gardens, this area looks very French with the boulevards stretching out over the city. In the basement of the building was the former command centre used during the war it is still set up with old phones and maps of the area. It is quite errie as it is if as soon as the NVA came in it was all abandoned and left as it was found. We then moved on down the boulevard to the Post Office, sounds a strange site to see, but the building is fabulous, it is like an old American Train Station very impressive. We then crossed the road to the Notre Dame Cathederal, which was also impressive and quite busy as it only opens for an hour or so for visitors to have a look around. After we left I had spotted a shopping mall and we went in for a quick browse, on the top floor was a bowling alley and the clothes were lovely. We walked back toward the river and stopped off for a few drinks and a look around the Russian Market.
The following day we stopped for brunch and had a Jacket potato with Bacon, beans and cheese, delicious. We then walked down to Cho Binh Tay market, which is the citys biggest market. We had a quick look around but the stalls were packed so close together and Wayne was feeling quite ill because of the heat and smells. We walked back up to the post office so we could send our postcards and also to the HSBC across the road so we could change our travellers cheques so we had enough dollars to pay for our Cambodian visas. Wayne was not feeling well, but he could not really explain why so I made him have some sugar and we went back to the hotel to get our bags ready to leave in the morning. We went out for a Indian curry, which was lovely, but again Wayne was feeling bad and struggled to eat it all (I knew he must not be feeling right). We brought some DVD's and headed back so he could sleep. After about an hour he woke suddenly and said he felt really weird, like he had taken drugs and he was boiling hot, he thought we should call a doctor, so I spoke to reception who phoned the clinic and advised it was cheaper to get him there. It was midnight when we arrived and the nurse took his temperature which was 38.8 and his heartbeat was really high 120, when it should be between 60-80. The doctor advised that he had a virus and he should drink plently of fluid and take panadol to keep the fever down, we had to stay about an hour so that they were sure that the temperature and heartbeat were coming down. We got back about 2am!
In the morning he was still ill so I went to the travel agent to tell that that he could not travel and I changed the ticket for the next day. We spent the day in the room, Wayne dosed up on panadol, by the evening he felt a bit better but still nowhere near ready to travel. We had takeaway pizza for tea and watched American Chopper and Alfie on the TV.
Wayne was still not right but he did feel better so I changed the travel ticket again but they charged me for the privilege. We staying in the room and I managed to catch-up on the internet and read some books. Wayne felt well enough to go for a massage, which was odd. We were given separate rooms and it all looked quite seedy when we had got inside, the massage was good although very rough at one stange this little Vietnamese woman was stood and walking up and down my back, Wayne's was the same and he came out aching more than when he went in! Wayne also wanted to go out for some food and wanted a carb fix to give him some energy so we had homemade pasta from a little Italian it was lovely.
We managed to leave for our tour, our first stop was only for a toilet break, but Wayne again looked sick and felt it, I think it was because he had not done anything for a few days and now we were out and about. We got to My Tho and got onto a boat, which took us on the Mighty Mekong and to a few of its islands. The expanse of water was phenomenal for a river but really muddy, probably because it was the rainy season. Our first stop allowed us to get on small canoes to travel along the canals to the Conconut Candy farm, where we saw the sweets being the coconut flesh is heated and meled with sugar it is then mixed while soft in to the candy and cut into chucks for sale, it was really tasty. We then got back onto the canoe and travelled further down the canal to our next stop at a honey plantation. Where we had hoeny tea and honey wine both were tasty. Wayne also got to hold a snake around his neck. We had lunch and Wayne could not eat it because he felt sick, but I must say it was in no way appetising. We then got on some small rowing boats to visit another island, but as we got on it started to rain, we were sat there in out rain coats and conical hats trying to keep the water off, while a local lady rowed us down the canal, very amusing to look back on but not at the time. We got to the fruit farm and were soaked, the fruit was nice and was accompanied by folk singing which was not that great. We got back onto the big boat and were taken back to the dock for our onward travel. It took 4 hours on a mini-bus to Can Tho another delta town, where we would be spending the nght, when we arrived we checked in and went out for some food, it was still raining!! Wayne looked and felt awful, I made him eat a plain chip butty and then we went back to bed.
The next morning we were meant to meet for breakfast at 6am, but Wayne said he felt worse than ever and could npt go on so I went downstairs and arranged for the guide to get a taxi for us back to Saigon. It was $80 but we didn't have a choice and at least we knew that if we got back we could get to a doctor. It took 4 hours and wayne slept luckily for most of the journey, we went back to the same hotel and got a slightly better room with a bath and more room, for $20 still quite cheap. We went straight to the clinic and saw a doctor, Wayne's temperature and heartbeat were normal, which surprised them as he was so red all over. He was told he had a nose and throat infection as well as a virus and the redness was the end of the virus! We were given anti-biotics and told more rest and fluids. The doctor also wanted to give Wayne a blood test, which showed his white cells were really low, but the test for Dengue fever was negative. He spent the rest of the day in bed and I had a takeaway curry for dinner.
As our Visas had now expired I had to try and get them extended so we could stay longer as we were not sure how long we had to hang around for. Most of the travel agencies said it would take up to 5 days as there was a public holiday which was no use as if he could leave after his check-up then we would. The receptionist directed me to the tourist police who said that I would have to go to the Immigration office. This was horrendous, the guy I spoke to pointed me in the direction of a booth but was not very helpfgul even though I had shown him the doctors reports saying that we had to stay until the check-up at least. I went back to the guy and said that I could not find the form as there were no English signs and the staff not very helpful he laughed at me and I left frustrated and crying - I had, had enough!!!! I got back to the hotel and called the British Embassy, I explained the situation and she asked me to go along to the office with the passorts and doctors notes. I got a taxi and had to go through stict security searches before I was allowedin. The lady Chi took all documents and copied then and told me she would make some calls in the morning and then get back to me, I felt thoroughly relieved. Another takeaway curry for me, Wayne had no appetite but managed to eat 1/3 of mine!!
Chi phoned at 10 the next morning and told me she had spoken to the foreign office who had agreed to give us a 10 day extension, I had to go to the embassy again and she would leave a couple of letters in English and Vietnamese for me to take to a different immigration office. I went over in a taxi with the letters and passports and filled in a couple of forms, the officer said I could pick the passports with the extensions up in 2 days, which was brilliant as this was after Wayne's check-up and before the public holiday, Wayne had spent nearly the whole day asleep.
Wayne managed to get up for his check-up at the dotors, although he said he felt better he just felt incredibly tired still, we got a taxi and the nurse took his blood straight away. Wayne went in to see the doctor, who said that his white cells were going up and he looked as though he was in recovery, which was good news, but he was still concered that he looked so tired, he fell asleep in the waiting room! The doctor then said that he wanted to do another test for Dengue Fever. This time the result came back positive, which is a relieft in a way because now we now we know what it is and how long it will take for him to get over it apparently 2 weeks from start to finish. Dengue Fever, is a virus carried by mosquitos and is similar to Malaria, it is an infection of the blood, which can be dangerous as it thins the blood and hemorraging is quite likely. Wayne has not had any bleeding and the doctor thinks that he is now on the mend,we just have to keep an eye on him incase of bleeding or any worseing. There is no specifc cure just rest, fluid and painkillers which is what we had been doing. Although the doctor said Wayne was dehydrated and offered fluid replacement sachets or for him to stay in and go on a drip, he opted for the sachets which we horrible.
I collected the passpors the next day with no hassle which was ace and Wayne was feeling well enough for a walk, although we were still going to stay a few more days until he was fit enough to travel, we managed to book our flight tickets within the next two days and Wayne felt much better although still very tired. The whole fiasco had cost us about $550, hopefully the insurance will pay, although they were not very helpful when I called the emergency hotline for assistance, they never got back to me.
As we have had a crappy 2 weeks and are both drained we have decided to change our plans we are now off to Thailand to spend some time recuperating by the beach before we go off to Cambodia.