Day 1 Saturday 21 December Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly named Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam. Under the name Saigon, it was the bustling capital of the French colony of Cochinchina and later of the independent republic of South Vietnam from 1955–75.

Richard and I both woke at about 6.00am feeling refreshed after a good night’s sleep to an overcast/slightly smoggy morning.  Eenie joined us for breakfast around 8.00am at the Saigon Café downstairs, where we had a delicious breakfast.  We then headed out to the grocery shop just up the road from the hotel to buy water and milk.  We got a 5 litre bottle of water for 21,000dong which was about $1.50AUD and a 1 litre carton of skim milk for about $2.00AUD.

We then headed off on foot to find the Ben Thanh Markets, which are about a 20-minute walk from the hotel.  We had an exciting morning where we put into practice what we had learnt about crossing the street.  This means stepping off the kerb and out into oncoming cars and motor-bikes with the belief that they would go around us!  We crossed many streets and have lived to tell the tale!

We walked past the Opera House and enjoyed looking at the beautiful gardens set in many of the main streets.  The centre of the city is decked out for the Christmas Season with lots of decorations and looks lovely. Along the streets there were many of the locals sitting on stools or squatting, trying to attract the passers-by to buy from them.

The Ben Thanh Markets are like nothing we had ever experienced before.  They are huge, undercover markets with rows and rows of little stalls and vendors who were doing their best to sell their wares to us by encouraging us to stop and showing us various items as we walked past.  The side aisles were barely wide enough for one person to walk through.  A huge variety of clothes, jewellery, scarves and leather goods were on display for sale with vendors happily haggling with us over prices.  All of the items that we saw were of good quality at very cheap prices.  It is hard to believe that the hundreds of vendors could make a living in this environment.  Although it started off a little daunting, we all soon “got the hang of it” and thoroughly enjoyed our morning and were pleased that we had been able to purchase some lovely things at the markets as well crossing the streets.  It does take courage to take that first step, but now we are old hands at it, especially after Sandy led us straight across a busy road and onto a huge roundabout so that we could take photos of the Markets and the local area.

We relaxed over a lovely lunch at Mojos, which is a street café attached to the Sheraton.  Richard and Eenie both had a beef burger and Sandy had a club sandwich, all of which were presented beautifully and tasted delicious.  Richard had a couple of Vietnamese beers, which he enjoyed and after a hot cup of tea/coffee, we headed back to the hotel.

This afternoon, we went for another adventure – this time we walked in the opposite direction down to the Saigon River, with directions from the ever-helpful concierge at the hotel.  At one of the major roads we needed to cross, we were standing at the side of the road waiting for two buses to pass, when suddenly a worker dressed in reflective yellow shirt appeared and took Eenie by the arm and walked us across the road, where all the cars and motor-bikes stopped or went around us – we were very impressed with his friendly helpfulness!!  We would never see this in Australia!!

We enjoyed walking along the river, taking photos of some of the old wooden Vietnamese boats and some of the sculptured gardens along the riverbank.  There are a lot of trees and gardens in and around the city.

Tonight, we met our Tour Manager, Tu, at a tour meeting with pre-dinner drinks, followed by a Welcome Dinner in the Saigon Café at the hotel.  We sat with a lovely couple, Wendy and Patrick from Caboolture.

We have thoroughly enjoyed our first full day of adventuring in Saigon!

One Response to “Day 1 Saturday 21 December Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)”

  1. Maria says:

    Looks fantastic – love travelling along with you, keep having fun and stay safe, all our love Maria and Dennis xxx

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