Monday 19 Feb
Ho Chi Minh City Saigon, Vietnam
Detox in Saigon impossible...
You would think that with 2 very determined minds such as the ones we possess, controlling our intake would be a cinch. Unfortunately this is not so... we are weak and pathetic and hang our heads in shame.
Our first night of detox (not really detox, just not drinking) landed up in farce as our hotel's party included free beer but not soft drinks. Can you believe it? I admit we fell gracefully at the first hurdle.
Saigon is a larger and crazier version of Hanoi but since we are here during Tet (lunar new year) many of the shops are shut. This is the year of the golden pig, a very lucky year apparently to have a baby. We have not yet been tempted, even though our next chance will only come in 60 years. I will be 93 then so I think we pretty much won't be having a 'lucky pig' baby. When I put it that way it sounds even less appealing.
We have spent a generous portion of our time on Sinh Cafe's 'tours for the masses'. They are cheap and do the business, but they don't leave you feeling like you are blazing any original trails. In fact the path is so well beaten, you almost feel like a pre-packaged chicken on a conveyor belt. However, we have crawled in the Cu Chi tunnels (200km of tunnels dug out during the Vietnam war), shot an AK-47, sailed down the Mekong Delta, had a ride on a horse cart, a rowing boat and a river boat, enjoyed traditional music and been fed tapioca, tropical fruits, local honey, a Vietnamese lunch, coconut candy and wine all for the princely sum of $12 (that includes a $3 surcharge because of Tet!). All that for the cost of a coffee and croissant at Starbucks in London!
Talking about food (were we talking about food again?), we tried braised ginger vegetarian chicken. It was really delicious but in a suspiciously meaty way. We felt like second rate veggies for liking it, but stopped short of ordering it again, feeling less guilty by dipping our toes only once in the dark side for the sake of being adventurous.
Tomorrow we take a bus to Phnom Penh in Cambodia, we leave Vietnam wanting to return and we haven't even left!
Tam Biet (goodbye in Vietnamese and I am ashamed to say that I had to look in Mr Lonely Planet for that).
Check out our HCMC/Saigon Pics here