Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

24th - 26th January 2019

Crossing the Mekong on the road back to

Ho Chi Minh City.

We quickly learned that nobody actually calls the city by its official name, to all it still seems to be Saigon, which admittedly is much easier to use in conversation.

Binh took us on a walking tour of the main highlights of the city, including the French-style former Hotel de Ville, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office - which was more cathedral-like than the church, the site of the frantic American airlift evacuation of CIA safe house, and the Independence Palace.

Our tour ended at the harrowing War Remnants Museum.

Former Hotel de Ville

This? Ironic on the only pedestrianised street we found.

Site of the American Airlift Evacuation with ladder used still on the roof

Notre Dame Cathedral

Funky Painted Pigeons

Post Office, where everyone seemed to want to have their photo taken

Post Office Decor

Independence Palace


Hotel Decor

During the afternoon, Binh showed us the other side of Saigon with a tour of a hidden Viet Cong weapons bunker and a wander through the maze of back streets filled with ramshackle shop fronts and finally to the Ben Thanh Market.

During the rush hour it would certainly have been quicker to walk back to the hotel than ride in the coach surrounded by a sea of mopeds.

Viet Cong Secret Bunker with bullet holes

Weapons hidden inside planks of wood

Shrine to 'Uncle Ho'

That's what in the secret cellar.

Now you see her...

Outside Ben Thanh Market

Smiling faces in Saigon's back streets.

Is that pig following me`?

Rush hour Saigon

But what kind of rice?

Dried Shrimp anyone

With Darren, we managed to squeeze in a trip to the Britexco tower. The skyscraper gave excellent views over the whole city. We opted for the 'Heineken experience' ticket, which offered a go in a race car simulator and a longer visit at a higher level of the tower than the regular tour, during which three complimentary Heineken beers had to be consumed. Miraculously we made it back in time for the tour group's farewell dinner with Binh

Britexco Tower

Admiring the View

Beer no. 2 with Darren

Beer no 3.

The farewells to our tour guide and the rest of the group had to be made before we actually parted company, as the rest of the group were bound for Cambodia the next day after our visit to the Viet Cong's Cu Chi Tunnels.

The claustrophobic network of tunnels buried deep in the forest gave the fighters a reputation for being able to appear from nowhere. The displayed traps used by the fighters against their enemies were horrific.

On our way to the tunnels we spotted the award-winning scooter load.

Anyone order a washing machine?

This is as close as my claustrophobic ass is going!

Are you stuck?

Made it through

Making Rice Paper at Cu Chi

Forest life at Cu Chi Tunnels

Lunch at the beautiful Nha Hang Ngon

We were sad to say goodbye to 'Uncle Binh" and board a different tour bus, to head back to Ho Chi Minh City and carry on exploring by ourselves.

'Uncle Ho' waves us off on our last night in the city

For our final dinner we opted to try a roof-top restaurant called 'Secret Garden'. Hidden at the top of four flights of stairs down an unprepossessing back alley, we didn't expect it to be quite so crowded. However this worked in our favour. Another local couple also waited for a table and when one for four quickly became available, we decided to dine together. They helped us select local specialities which we would never have chosen if left to our own devices, and they didn't seem in the least bit bothered that we were gate-crashing their reunion date after a three month separation. It was a wonderful end to our trip.

Last night dinner

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