Smell you later Saigon.

May 20, 2013 - Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

W had two days in Ho Chi Minh before saying goodbye to both Jules (sad face) and Vietnam.

The first day was all a bit much for me. We arrived at 6am, checked into the hotel and had a good couple of hours sleep. We really needed this because the train driver, like all moped and car drivers,  consistently beeped the horn. All night long. At some point or other during the past 2 and a half weeks, all three of us have had a very impassioned rant about this. "So unnecessary! Who are you even beeping at you div? Shut up! Etc etc". This time it was particularly bad as we were in one of the front carriages and could hear it clear as a bell.

They also stop the train really abruptly at random points during the night and I spent a good chunk of the ride worrying Rachel would fall out of her top bunk. Each carriage has its own tannoy (which we quickly learnt to turn off before going to sleep) which pipes up full blast at 5:3 0 am, playing hideously loud Vietnamese music and shouting out communist messages.
The trains are always an experience. We have to share our four berth carriage with one other person, and last time we had a man who woke up super early and meditated for an hour and a half solid. We were well impressed.
Anyway, I digress. So we caught up on some sleep but were still pretty knackered when we headed out into the city. I'm gonna say it. I don't like Ho Chi Minh. It is sooo smelly. The pavements stink of wee, our noses began to hurt after a day of breathing in fumes, there are women selling red meat which is hung up in the sun and covered in flies and you constantly have to walk through suspicious puddles which often smell of fish. Although Hanoi is dirty and busy, it's also really authentically Vietnamese and full of charm. In comparison, Ho Chi Minh is more developed and like a gross version of any other city you've been to.
We know HCMC is famous for its food so we were really looking forward to a top breakfast. But, the cafe we ate in was rubbish and we barely touched our food or drinks. Rach and I were in a bit of a sleep deprived grump by now so Jules took us to Starbucks for breakfast round two. We had muffins and proper
coffee, followed by a proper tea, and the spotless condition of the toilets made me want ro rejoice. Could we get away with spending two days in Starbucks??
Enough Ho Chi Minh bashing. We left our Starbucks bubble and walked to the waterfront and back up through Dong Khoi - the main street where the American soldiers famously spent their evenings in the various seedy bars. It's much different now and lined with designer shops, Rodeo Drive or Champs Élysées style.
Later, we met our Norwegian friends who had also travelled on to HCMC for dinner. I chose the restaurant, picking one that sounded good out of the guidebook. The reality was that there was absolutely no one in there and the waiters looked surprised when we arrived. We were all very polite and sat down anyway. Then Rach had the sense to pipe up and say "the floor is filthy and the prawn crackers are a funny colour. Can we leave?" So, awkwardly, we did. Well done Rach, no one wanted to eat there. Screw you Rough Guide to Vietnam!
So we moved on somewhere much nicer, had a top meal before we parted ways. The Norwegians and Jules were flying in the morning.


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