Ben Thanh Market
Went and had breakfast at 8am which was included. We had four options 1) Bread with fried egg 2) Pancake 3) Bread with cheese 4) Vietnamese instant noodle with egg. I went for option 1 which was quite nice and the bread roll was nice and fresh. We also got dragonfruit and pineapple. At breakfast we met two lovely Filipino girls who were travelling here for a week. After breakfast we packed up and walked the 10min to 'Hoang Gia Huy' Hotel located just 50m from Ben Thanh Market. We checked in and our room was really nice - this had a proper shower with a bath which I was pleased to see! We unpacked and headed down to reception only for K to realise she'd left her camera in the hotel room. She spent the next hour frantically searching for it and sweating up a storm only to eventually find it attached to her main backpack! Anyway, we finally made it to the market which intoxicated us with its sights and smells.
The garbage/fishy smell nearly made me gag a few times! I bought quite a few things, including several small paintings of Vietnam scenes, a small wooden owl, two Roxy tank tops, a silk embroidery, four red lacquered dragonfly bowls, and some food, including a bowl of beef pho. At one point as we were walking through the market a helicopter was flying low overhead and two women grabbed us and stared at us and pointed to the roof. A few seconds later I clicked that perhaps they thought we were Americans. How sad. A few days later I mentioned this story to our Vietnamese guide who said it was probably just that they were pointing out something unusual to us. I felt pretty brave trying the beef pho. It was very tasty with all the herbs in it but I avoided the gristly bits!
We spent a couple of hours at the hotel after the market and both used the shower (lovely though poor drainage) then met the Intrepid group, which consisted of Nhu Y, the Vietnamese leader, L from NZ but living in Scotland, E from Ireland, and M from Czech Republic but living in Canada.
Our second hotel
It was a very small group, which meant we got to know everyone really well, but I didn't find it as fun as the larger groups I've travelled with. Everyone seemed lovely and I really liked our guide, the first female one I'd had. After our meeting we headed off to the Royal Revolving Restaurant for dinner which was 9 stories high and during the course of our dinner rotated 360 degrees. I had stir-fried beef noodle which was really nice, and a chocolate milkshake. I enjoyed the meal and it was nice getting to know everyone. It was pretty cheap too at 170,000D (~AUD$10) for a fancy place. Forgot to mention we got a free handmade bag (made at the Nguyen Nga Training Center in Quy Nhon) and a booklet on Vietnam at the meeting which was good. On the way back to the hotel after tea we briefly stopped in at the night market, then headed back to our room.