last day in Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh City Travel Blog

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Reunification palace gates
This was our last day in Ho Chi Minh, and we finally managed to catch back up with Katie and Ollie. This was after a long period of leaving notes on each other's doors, like I used to in my first year of University before we all had mobiles, and it was nice to finally manage to make plans for that evening.

Then, Iain and I wanted to visit the Reunification Palace. Katie and Ollie had been earlier in teh week and hadn't been that impressed, but I suspect they dodn't have our tour guide.  :) 

We hadn't expected a tour guide, as it happened; we were very lucky to arrive at the palace just as they were assembling an English speaking group.  We would never have beenorganised enough to do it on purpose.
Ho Chi Minh, and I am very sorry the photo blurred. the lens went funny in the rain.
  Our guide was a very elegant lady who spoke extremely good English, and as she took us around, she explained the symbolism of the colours in the rooms (red ones to show power, green for calm in the meeting rooms, and yellow for joy in the banquting suites), where the decoration had come from, and why the first lady had her own dining room (somewhat sexistly, because men talk about boring things like wars and power, and women want to talk about their nails.  I am surprised a woman said this, unless for laughs, because most women I know talk about men!). 

The palace was fascinating in historical terms, because we only ever hear the American side of the story in the West and it was interesting to hear about, for example, why people hated the puppet president so much.
laquer room
  Of course the commentary was a bit biased, but so is everyone's. The palace is also still used, which I hadn't realised.  And the other interesting thing is the decor, which is very 160s and has been left that way.Most of the really 1960s stuff in the UK has been modernised ove rthe years, and the only place I had seen a room quite like the presidential casino was in Thunderbirds.  I half expected Lady Penelope to come out, in the middle of a talk about the last days of Saigon. 
The palace was a fascinating mix of that sort of decor, and more traditional laquer work and carpets.  The tour also skirts the former presidential family's personal living quarters, which were strangely unimpressive for rulers, and decorated with elephant feet and model boats.


One of my favourite bits was the roof, where you can see a captured helicopter and the views out over the city and down the avenue.  It would have been a great balcony for addressing the nation, and I amused myself by thinking what to say to the nation until I realised quite how deeply inappropriate it was to be humming Evita as a) it was the wrong country and b) the wrong continent and c) totally the wrong end of the political spectrum and d, e and f) completely inappropriate.

I had a brief chat with the tour guide on the way between rooms, which really brought home to me how little I know about life in my own country..  She was being apologetic about the rain, and I explained that where I come from, it rains pretty much all the time. 
"all the time?" 
"yes, all year around"
"so you don't hve seasons?"
"well, yes, but it's more like, well, in winter it is wet and cold and in summer it is wet and a bit less cold.
The bar of the bad idea beer.
  Oh, and it gets dark really early in winter.  at about 4pm."

I am fairly sure she thought I was taking the mickey out if her, but she said, politely,

"really?  How do you farm?"
I really didn't have an anwer, and felt totally ignorant.

It took me three days to figure out that the only reasons that the Brits don't still starve every winter are imports and potatoes, by which time it was too late to answer.

After tha palace we mooched about a bit, and then we went to Pho 2000 and had Pho.  It was very nice indeed.  Pho 2000 is a chain, but they are really nice, affordable, and it's great Pho.  I bought a t shitr to replace the one that had got lost in the laundry, and then we found Katie and Ollie in a little bar not far further than Go2 along the same street.
View from the palace
  it was the sort of bar where you sit on little plastic chairs on the street and drink 30p beer from plastic litre containers. It was very ill advised beer, but a good bar.  FOr a start, we met Oz, whose real name seemed to be Ollie.  Oz had had a suit made for himself out of hawaiin short fabric, and had a mohawk.  He was drinking in the little plastic bar and offended the landlady by taking off his shirt.  Having got her daughter to ask him to put it back on, with no luck, she slapped his head.  He put the shirt on.  There is always a way around a language barrier.  We got talking to an American lass called Gina who had worked on the Obama campaign and did an entertaining Sarah Palin impression (not that I'm taking sides, guys, but it was funny!) and when the little plastic bar ran out of ill advised beer, we went to Go2.
Chopper


It was a shame really, because someone left without paying for some shots and Ollie got stictched up to pay for them, which caused a bit of a row.  I was a bit sad because up to that point I would only have said nce things about the place.  But it all got resolved and Ollie, Iain, Oz and some other people ended up in one last bar and went home.

WHihc is when I realised how ill advised the beer had been.  It wasn't very alcoholic - we all commented how little affect it was having, but it tasted nice so we didn't care.  I don't think it was quite alcoholic enough to kill the germs, though, and I have Never. Ever.  Ever.  had a tunny bug quite like that one in my entire life.  I shall spare you the details, but I was not ata ll convinced that I was going to make it to the plane the next day.
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Reunification palace gates
Reunification palace gates
Ho Chi Minh, and I am very sorry t…
Ho Chi Minh, and I am very sorry …
laquer room
laquer room
The bar of the bad idea beer.
The bar of the bad idea beer.
View from the palace
View from the palace
Chopper
Chopper
Sculpture park
Sculpture park
Ho Chi Minh City Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Pho 2000
Pho 2000 is a fast food Pho outlet, found across Ho Chi Minh City. I sincerely wish they would open outlets in the UK! Pho is noodle soup, and there… read entire review
Ho Chi Minh City Sights & Attractions review
Reunificaton Palace
the reunification palace is well worth a trip. It was very affordable, at about a dollar entrance. The reunification palace was the former palace… read entire review