Saigon / Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City Travel Blog› entry 11 of 23 › view all entries
This was our second stop and to our dismay we actually stopped at the port of Vung Tao (I don't know if I spelt that right). The port is about 2.5 hours from Ho Chi Minh so we got a bit worried about just trying to wing it on our own. Neither of us are very interested in the tour packages they offered and both of us wanted to see Saigon, not some small city out side of it. We tried to sign up for the Ho Chi Minh on your own 'tour' which was just transportation to/from the city, however it was all booked up. Instead we took an actual tour. The tour was early, we had to meet at about 5:30am. Figuring in time for breakfast, showers, etc we got up at 4:15am.
Getting off of the ship wasn't too bad. It was well organized and we didn't have to wait long. We took a hydrofoil style boat and it only took about 10 minutes from our ship to get to the dock. The ship we're on is too big to actually dock in this town. I had pleanty of napping and reading time although the guide did not stop talking.
He was great tour guide though. He spoke good english and seemed to hate the communist rule over his country. He was careful about how much displeasure he shared with us, but his feelings weren't a secret. We saw the former capitol of Ho Chi Minh where the South Vietnamiese part of the Vietnam war was coordinated.
Our first stop was a rest stop about halfway to Ho Chi Minh. We were hounded with people begging for money or trying to sell us crap immediatly. Clearly this is a popular route. The Dong, thier local currancy, is valued at about 16,000 to $1US.
From there we visited a buddist temple, market, and a history museum. We wanted to see the War Museum which is reported to be pretty moving but the tour didn't include it and there wasn't enough time to sneak off. We did get to see the Continental Hotel where Kim's grandfather conducted negotiations with the Japonese at the end of WWII. (I'll post a picture when I'm at a faster internet connection.)
The meal they provided us was a good assortment of Vietnamese food so I was happy. They did have some fried fish, but they left the bones in...yuck. I couldn't eat more than the one bite. Fish bones are a pain.
We had from about 7am to 6pm on the stop, all of it consumed by the tour. The tour was supposed to run from 7a to 4p and I had hoped we could wander around Vung Tao a bit, but we ended up running late. The boat was supposed to leave by 7pm but since everyone was running late we didn't leave the harbor until almost 9p.
After our 5 hours of road travel (2.5 each way) we got to the dock at about 5pm or so and then waited another 90 minutes before we actually got in line for the tender back to our ship. They explained that they were so backed up that they just kept us on the bus instead of having us stand around. While it took forever, I felt like it was an organized mess.
The day as a whole was good. We only got rained on a little and I learned lots about Vietnam. I think that half of Asia is stuck in the 80's becuase there was a lot of Madonna playing here too. I'd be interested in coming here again and spending a little more time.