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Friday 19 Jul 2013
Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City

We finally reached Ho Chi Minh City around 11am, 17 long hours after leaving Mushroom Point in Sihanoukville.  Luckily, our hostel was only a few streets away from where the bus dropped us off and we were able to check in almost straight away.  We were so hungry we went straight out to find lunch and discovered a posh buffet on a 9th floor roof terrace overlooking the park.  Despite being dressed like scruffy backpackers fresh off a night bus, they still let us in.  The food looked great, but by far the best was their noodle soup, packed full of fresh herbs and a delicious broth.  We all had double portions of that.  The desert table was covered in cakes, jellies and various unidentifiable Asian specialities.  Watching the boys come back with platefuls and discover most of it tasted pretty awful was very amusing.  Having travelled with Ailsa enough, I had an idea what most of it would be like so stuck happily with the jelly and ice-cream. 

We took a taxi over to the main station to get our night train tickets to Hoi An and Hanoi.  The ticket hall was huge, with rows of seats for easily a hundred people and a numbered ticketing system for service.  We took a number and realised we had to wait for 60 people before us to be served.  When we eventually reached the counter, a lovely lady helped us with the tickets for the first train and we traipsed one at a time to the card machine at the other end of the counter to pay.  Then we repeated the process with the second ticket, making her giggle at us trailing backward and forward.

The hostel had a mezanine floor with a bar and pool table, so we played a few games and chatted to other people for a while, before heading out to find some street food.  We were only a couple of blocks away from the typical backpacker area of District 1, so we quickly found street stalls, cafes, bars and shops to nose through.  We wandered around for a while before finding a nice looking cafe with typical Vietnamese street furniture outside - a low plastic table and tiny plastic stools, a bit like sitting on upturned buckets.  The food was excellent - I had a bowl of beef pho, an instant favourite of mine - and our first round of Saigon beers - a new beer label for the collection.  After the bus journey last night, I was content to catch up with Mum and Dad on Facetime and have one more drink with the lads over a game of killer pool then head to bed, leaving them to go out partying without me.

 

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