16.05.2011 - 26.05.2011 34 °C
It's been ages since I've been on this site and thought it might be time to backtrack and update. Next stop was saigon where we stayed for 10 days I. District 1 which is where the backpackers stay. It was close to the markets and loads of bars and restaurants. Most people spoke a bit of English and it seemed like there were a few expats that hung out there. On our first day out we were approached my 'mr tung' who offered to take us on a tour around Saigon, so Josh hopped on the back of his bike and I hopped on the back of his friends bike. He had a book full of recommendations from other travelers who had been on tours with him and it seemed like a good way to see the city (there was NO-WAY we were hiring bikes and driving them ourselves in the Saigon traffic!
First stop was lunch at a local restaurant which was on the second floor, the were only locals and you could buy whole BBQ chickens for just over a couple of bucks, local beer was a about .50c and pretty good. The beer is served in a handle with a giant cyllander shaped block of ice that takes up most of the glass so you have to drink quick to avoid watery beer. Then once the ice has melted a little the waitress will come over with ice tongs, pull the ice out and replace it with another huge block. BBQ chicken was cut into many small pieces, each with a bone and eaten with your fingers, it was sever with leaves that tasted a little like coriander and chicken sprinkle and lime - delicious. We also had fried rice for the table.
After lunch we saw a couple of very smoky temples, they basically make wishes on incense then light a whole bunch. But there'd are so many smoking away you can hardly see or breathe, theres also a chap that goes round putting the incense out and taking them away so theres room for others. I wonder if they know their wishes and prayers get stubbed out!? He also took us to a coffee house, they mostly drink coffee cold here with ice and condensed milk. It's too hot for hot coffee. Most of the waitresses we wearing clubbing outfits as it's so hot and few shaved their legs so we saw a few surprisingly hairly ankles and calves. Wasn't covert enough to get pics sorry.
Pho was the main food there which is noodles in broth, often the chicken is in bones and all, it's served with local herbs sometimes lettuce as well and you add it to the broth then eat it, really healthy and yum. The markets had many food stalls selling this as well as clothes, souvinears etc, the meat just sits out in the open and the smell is not great. The traffic in the city is horrific, and there'd seems to be no road rules except toot if your breaking the rules, toot if your passing or toot if you're coming. That's what the tour guide to the cu chi tunnels reckons any way.
The cu chi tunnels took a couple of hours to travel to by bus, on the way we stopped at a church in the middle of no where. The Cowdye (spelling, bur thats how you say it). It's basically a combo of Hinduism, Muslims and confusionism. They pray 4 times a day with ceremony 6 am midday 6 pm and midnight. Shoes had to be taken off to enter and men and women had separate doors on each side of the church to enter. All wore white except a few leader type figures. There'd was signing and drum banging and violins playing during prayer. They sat in perfect lines on the floor. Te whole town belongs to the religion and it is expected that people go there once a year like Mecca. Are that we got to the tunnels, the tunnels have since been widened by about 60% to let in westerners and our big asses. Even then they were tiny! The tunnels had whole villages live under there with kitchens and three floor levels. At night the Vietnamese would dig more and build traps to injure the Americans. There were huge red or black centipedes everywhere while we walked.
I liked Saigon, there was a huge well maintained park in the middle of the city and everyone was friendly. Lots of motor bike toters though.