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Saigon turned out to be one of my favourites cities on this trip. We were woken up at 4.45 am for our flight to Saigon. This only took one hour and ten minutes. Our first stop was the War Remnants Museum. This was fascinating as the Vietnam War was before I was born. So I only knew a little about it. I had no idea that the French controlled Indochina. And that the North Vietnamese went up again the South Vietnamese. I knew that the US were involved but this museum did educate me.
We then had a orientation tour of the main landmarks that the city had to offer. The Independence Palace that had just opened for the tourists to explore. The colonial style central post office, the cathedral which was originally a train station. The opera house, Nguyen hue pedestrian street with the town hall at one end. This was vast. We had a stop for lunch, but having only slept for four hours, I was starting to struggle. I knew I needed some sleep and rest. This is the problem with tours, you are constantly on the go, early starts, long days. They are too exhausting for me.
Then we had a pit stop at the Ben Thanh market. I did not get out to have a five minute wander around. I stayed in the coach, hoping to get to our hotel soon. I was just so tired. And then finally we were at our hotel. We stayed three nights on bed and breakfast at the five star Equatorial Hotel.
The next day was the Cu Chi tunnels and I told our tour manager that I was going to visit this. This was discussed with my mum. Who disagreed with me. And we cancelled this tour. So the next day, we both woke up naturally. I felt like I had a proper night sleep this was over eight and a half hours. The most I had slept since leaving for this trip. We had a late breakfast and took the complimentary shuttle bus into the district one. Saigon is made up of districts, our hotel was in district three and too far for me to walk. We got dropped off at Ben Thanh market.
My mum bartered for a few bits but I did not see anything I wanted. There was a lot of tat there but also a food, home ware. You name it, it was properly there. My type of shop was the Saigon Centre Tower. An air conditioned, clean shopping centre. Where I brought some havaianas. These were so cheap, a quarter of the price I would have paid at home. It was only when we were walking out, I remembered that I was going to Brazil the following month. It will be interesting to see the price difference.
Our tour manager had mentioned the Saigon Sky Deck to the group. She said there was a cheaper alternative, which was the Bitexco Financial Centre. Where we stopped in for a drink and to see the view. It was nice to relax somewhere as Saigon was heating up. I had a coconut and banana milkshake which was delicious. Then back to the hotel to rest. I was struggling with my condition, and I passed out for ten and a half hours straight.
We decided to cancel the next day tour which was to the Mekong River. And I spend most of the day at the pool at our hotel. My body needed this. It was lovely just taken a day off. People on the tour mentioned to me later on that they wished they had done the same.
The next day, we were due to fly to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. But after arriving at the airport, we found out that our flight was cancelled due to a technical fault. After ninety minutes waiting to be transferred by Bassack Air. We were eventually allowed through to departures and given complimentary access to a lounge with a limited choice menu. The only thing I could eat was the Chicken and Rice and it was not very nice. And after nine hours we were finally in Cambodia.
I really enjoyed our time in Saigon. It was just nice to take a couple of days away from the tour group and do stuff at our own pace. I love Saigon that I have told my husband, that this city is one I will be returning too with him. For one of our future winter periods. I can not wait to return.