My Own Ho Chi Minh Trail
Ho Chi Minh City Travel Blog› entry 68 of 117 › view all entries
After an emotional goodbye at the airport, with Kyle flying off to conquer the world of transport planning, I wasn't really in the mood for dealing with Thai immigration as to why I had overstayed my visa. It wasn't like I hadn't intended to, to be honest, seen as it worked out a lot cheaper to pay a fine for a couple of days than renew for a whole month's worth. Although I got out of the country fine, I still felt like I had been breaking the law and was getting a telling off.
On the way to my hostel from Ho Chi Minh airport, I couldn't believe that there are actually more chaotic roads than Bangkok's in this world. Any lingering suggestion that I might be able to get on a motorbike taxi was killed immediately.
Upon arriving at my hostel, I was told that the person staying in my room the previous night had not departed yet because she was suffering with fever. Despite the fact that she was obviously faking it - I saw her the following day; she looked fine - I didn't mind being put up in a hostel across the road at no extra expense. It was actually not a problem; the room was better than the original. The following day I was told that she was still ill, so I got given a room with a double and a single bed, so I'm living the high life off the faker. I really should shake her hand (I won't, in case it's contageous and she isn't lying).
Waking up to a very hot and sticky day, I started out on my very own tour of Ho Chi Minh. I had trouble explaining this to the cyclo and moto drivers who just never leave you alone - to the point that courtesies quickly edge towards mild obscenities. I hope I get used to it quickly, even though at times you feel like forcefully telling them to go away in a more post-watershed kind of way.
First up, I took a walk through busy Ben Thanh market, even though I was all shopped out from Bangkok. I passed the Tran Nguyen Hai statue while nearly getting killed crossing the road, and refreshed myself with liquids at the outdoor market, where women in conical hats swarmed the place. Passing the Municipal Theatre, I headed towards the Hotel de Ville, which has a statue of Uncle Ho himself before it.
Nearby is the War Remnants Museum. It used to be called the Museum of Chinese and American War Crimes, which gives you a better idea of what it contains, despite the name change. Another one to add to the list of museums that I've visited that are as interesting as they are disturbing, contents include photos of the infamous My Lai massacre and a film about Vietnamese citizens and their offspring that have been left deformed after the deployment of Agent Orange by the US during the Vietnamese war.
With enough time to squeeze in a couple more sites, I circled the Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral while viewing the adjacent French-style post office building, the largest post office in Vietnam. I didn't have anything to post, so finally gave in to one of the cyclo drivers and took a scenic ride home before the rains started lashing down as I stepped foot in my hostel.
After all the sight-seeing, I had worked up an appetite, so went to have my first taste of the Vietnamese national dish, Pho. Expecting it to be a bit bland compared to all the nice Thai cuisine I had gotten used to, I was surprised to find the beef noodle soup was actually quite nice, even if I did add far too many chilis into the mix, thus forcing a couple of litres of water down my throat to stop me from spitting fire.