Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City
12.11.2007 30 °C
We are now in Ho Chi Minh City aka Saigon. It's a bustling busy city with glamorous hotels and shopsm lots of tourists, beautiful French colonial architecture, and Nutella. (Yes, the hazelnut chocolate spread, which we lost in Laos).
We had 1st gone to Nha Trang for a couple of days. It's a small beach town between Hoi An and HCM City. We had managed to escape the rain and clouds that had been following us from Hanoi. After settling in to our 7 USD/ nite hotel, I was completely excited to smell the South China Sea, take my flip flops off, and feel the warm foam on my feet. I was so escited. I was waiting for the beach since.... China. But with the recent typhoons and tropical storms, the waters weren't as blue as we preferred and the waves that crashed onto the shore were huge and very intimidating. Only a few brave souls ventured into the water to throw their bodies into the waves... boys, of course.
We decided to lay out on the rooftop deck of hotel for a little bit, enjoying the sun, trying to even out our horrible tan lines that we've accummulated . I was in heaven, swinging on a hammock, under the hot sun, reading a book, listening to music, with the smell of the sea in the air... all I needed was somebody fanning me with a banana leaf while feeding me grapes (Ellen denied me my request).
That afternoon, we had hired a ride to take us to the Thap Ba Hot springs where we could soak in a bath of mud, take showers in hot spring water, soak in a hot mineral bath, and then swim in a pool of hot mineral water. That was amazing. It was a beautiful sunny day to lie around in a spa, shifting from tub to tub, and just relaxing until my fingers and toes turned into prunes.
Then later that night we went to the Louisiane Brewhouse. It was a beautiful beach side restaurant, with a swimming pool, with tables and beach chairs all over. We decided to splurge and have a fancy dinner to remember Vietnam... and dined on delicious snapper and ginger beer. I loved being on the beach. It totally reminded me of Miami, at the Shore Club. All they needed was house music playing in the background and some beautiful people in designer clothes walking around... and I was in Miami. Haha.
We left Nha Trang the following day because the rain had followed us and ruined our day to sunbathe. But no worries, we will soon be in Thailand.
HO CHI MINH CITY: We arrived in Saigon early Saturday 10 Nov morning. And after settling into our Hotel, Phoenix 74 in District 1, had breakfast, we walked around the city. Saigon is a large city, but everything we wanted to see was nearby. So we walked to see all the French Colonial architecture of the municipal building, the post office, Notre Dame's cathedral, and city hall. We also stopped by Parkson's, a western grocery store, on a quest for Nutella. We left our last jar in Luang Prabang, Laos and have been miserable without it. We paid over 100,000 dong over 6USD for a jar and bought 2. We had spent our budget on that freaking Nutella, but it was worth it.
That night we hung out with some local friends... Tram's-2nd cousin's-friends Chi and Liem and some others took us to dinner and for some drinks afterward at Allez Boo, a backbacker hangout. It was really nice, trying some authentic Vietnamese food (other than the usual Pho) and hanging out. They were very friendly and hospitable.
The following day, we had organized a tour to the Cu Chi tunnels. They're a series of subterranean tunnels where people lived and soldiers planned strategies against the Americans during the Vietnam War. We took a boat to the tunnels, learned a little bit of history about Vietnam and the war and were actually able to walk through original tunnels, which were reconstructed to make them slightly larger to fit the bigger Westerners. Mostly everyone was duck-walking through the tunnels and sweating while trying to walk about 100 yards. But it was easy for me...crouching, not having any real problems. Finally, being short comes in handy. Haha. See the following picture of a tour guide in a Spider hole...
The following day, we had arranged another tour to go to the Mekong Delta, one of the 1000 things to see before you die. It's where the great Mekong River that runs through China, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam empties into the South China Sea. So there's lots of different types of fish and foliage that live in the area. It was pretty touristy and it almost felt like I was in a boat ride at the Epcot Center in Disney World for a little bit. It was nice to see how people live in the area.