Although it was a scam place it did have an interesting urinal.

I enjoyed a total of six days in Ho Chi Minh city also known as Saigon.  

I was fortunate to make some friends at a local coffee shop outside of the tourist district.

The coffee shop was also a custom T-shirt shop.  I chose this image for my first T-shirt, for obvious reasons.  

After three days away to the Mikong Delta I returned to Saigon.  I stayed in this hotel in the foreign district, on the eighth floor.  You can see my windows one from the top because the hotel is only one room wide!  Looks like a short version of a Tokyo building.

The backpackers district of Saigon is very hectic and has a very developed nightlife.  I don’t usually go out drinking but on one occasion I did.  Here you can see me with two girls I met from England.

Soon after meeting them I had us join a group of locals who were dancing at their table.  They were very generous with their quantity of beer coming from a tap on their table.  We tried to refuse but they insisted.  Some time later I was taken by the hand and told to come along as we all ran outside.  In the street we all continued to run.   It took me a few minutes before I realized that the locals had dashed on their bill.  And I had joined them!

There are many scams in the bars in Saigon, so I discovered in my one night out.  At this particular bar the scam was this.  One was presented with a menu that only showed the prices for premade drinks.  These prices were all very normal and standard.  The scam was that their cocktails were priced at nearly 10 times the standard rate for the neighborhood.   So if you saw their menu and then asked them if they had a rum and Coke, you would be very surprised by the price if you did not ask to see that specific menu.  Beer was about 20,000 dong, $1.  A wine cooler expensive at 100,000 dong, $5.  But who would have expected that any other cocktail, on a separate menu , was priced at 330,000 dong $17.  Whereas at all the nearby restaurants the same cocktails were two dollars.

I encountered my next scam at the next bar we moved to.  That was me and the British girls, not the locals who ran home.  This bar had all their drinks marked at double the going rate.  This was acceptable because they had a permanent two for one drink special.  So the three of us ordered two cocktails get two free, each having one and one third with the fourth as a refill.  Then we ordered two more and did the same with the four arrived.  

This was my first time drinking for several weeks.  I asked for the bill after having had five drinks that night.  The bill was much more than I expected but I was confused after drinking by the exchange rate which is difficult with such a large denomination.  (20,000 is $1).  I paid the 600,000 for our drinks and then parted company.  Only the next day did I realize they did not honor the two for one special.  I went back but they said sorry I have no proof.  I am certain they present every customer with this double bill and then pretend it was an honest mistake if the foreigner notices.  

After I had paid the bill but before I had told the girls it was my treat I asked one of them if she could send me a text with our photo.  She said no because it would cost her money.  (About 5 cents.). I signed her in to Wi-Fi to get the photo but I felt hurt.  Although she didn’t know yet I had just spent $20 on their share of the drinks when she didn’t want to spend five cents on one text.  

Although it was a scam place it did have an interesting urinal.   Click on the image below to see the video showing what I mean.

Insert your note video here

 This was another interesting urinal experience.  For your enjoyment we have installed a mirror above this low urinal so that you have no privacy from everyone who enters this bathroom.  Well designed.  

While in Saigon I also had my hair done, a pedicure, and a manicure.  I am still recovering from that traumatic experience.  

At least they didn’t lie about what city we were in.

This post contains a few videos.

Saigon is a city of 10 million people in the south of Vietnam.  

I made some local friends at a coffee shop in an obscure district where foreigners were rare.  Online my hotel had lied about what district of the city it was located.  So my hotel was in a nondescript sort of nowhere area of Saigon.

Click on the video below to see me riding on my friend’s motorbike.

My friend took me to the area of the city where I thought I already was.  It was much livelier and more interesting and most things were open.  Almost every business in my neighborhood was closed for the entire week of Chinese new year.

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Click on the video below to see some nighttime traffic as we walked along.

src=”https://personaltravelstories.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/img_2608.jpg&#8221; alt=””> It was a very strange experience to discover that the district my hotel told me I was in, was so completely different then the area it was actually in.

My new friend, my, took me to her favorite smoothie shop located in an alley in the foreigners district.

My and I both need to wear masks on the busy streets of Saigon.

She was surprised when I pulled out my mask.  But after becoming very sick from pollution in the Philippines I never leave my hotel without one.  I was sick for nearly 3 weeks.  Relentless coughing.

My offered to teach me how to ride motorcycle in Saigon.  In a future post I will show you the motorcycle traffic of this city.  You will understand why I did not take her up on this offer.

A Strategic Ant Farm for People

(This posting has some short video clips. If you received it by email, click on the title in blue to open the posting in your browser so you can view them. Or when you click on one of the video images it will open in your browser at that time.)

The Cu Chi tunnels are a network of more than 200 km of underground tunnels near to the city of Saigon in Vietnam.  They were famous as a unique defense hold against the American military during Vietnam war.  

Here you can see a typical entry point to one of the tunnels.

Click on the image below to see me entering the tunnel through this entry point. This was the original opening size, made so most Americans would not be able to fit through. Only three of us tried to fit.

The Vietcong designed many innovative traps for the American soldiers to encounter.  Most of them involve hidden trapdoors blending in with the ground.

Click on the image below to see this particular trap in action.

The tunnels have a variety of entry points some hidden and not some not.  These were all strategic and caused confusion for the American soldiers.  It would seem that the Vietcong would disappear and reappear in many different places.  This would also cause their numbers to seem expanded.  Their ability to move about underground would have almost seemed magical to the American soldiers above ground.  But not magical in a good way.

 We were told that tanks destroyed where usually buried to be made into bunkers.

The entry of this tunnel would have been made larger for the tourist.  But the tunnel itself was authentic.  I made my way through this one and was very happy not to encounter other people inside.

These huts built into the ground apart from the roof for water drainage were hard to see from any distance.

Thank you for joining my visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam.  

Click on the image below as I look for the nearest exit. The tunnels continue on with many exit/entry points throughout. Although we were told these were authentic dimensions, I have no doubt many tunnels were much smaller. Also, although there was not much lighting, there was some intermittent lightning and they would have had none. Seemed like an ant farm for humans, with chambers and features within, although I didn’t seen any.

I hope you’ll join me next time for more of my Asian adventures! Click on “follow” below the list of entries at the right and enter your email address to receive my posts to your inbox. You will receive nothing other than my postings and you can unfollow at anytime clicking “unfollow” on any of the posts you receive.

Cheers!
Darren

My Vietnam Adventure Begins in Saigon

This is my first blog posting that I’m attempting from my mobile phone. I’ve been having issues with my hands lately so I am using voice recognition, which is very cool. Unfortunately it’s different than writing, but it’s fine for the purposes of my blog.

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Sometimes it’s nice to not have to figure out how to get to your hotel on arrival.

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If I had forgotten Vietnam was a communist country I would’ve been reminded as I wandered down the streets by my hotel. This would’ve been hard to forget though, seeing as the arrival procedure with the visa process took more than 90 minutes and was quite far from streamlined.


The image above is a short clip of a New Years festival I stumbled upon my first day in Saigon. Click on the image to view the video.

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Most of the shops, restaurants, and services in my neighbourhood were closed for the week for New Years. (Vietnam New Near same as Chinese New Year.) I was happy to find this little shop to get my mobile phone operating!


Click on the video above to witness, as I did, all the closed businesses in the district as I explored on this Saturday, my first day in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh.

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This little street-side cafe I passed. In fact, the next day I ended-up eating there, it was all I could find open on Sunday and it was actually fine.

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The BBQ for the food stall was more than 10m away from the actual stall.

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Some pics in a lovely flower-themed park celebrating New Year.

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Along with many locals, I do need to use a mask here and there when wandering around this large city congested with heavy traffic. But, armed with my masks I will stay well!

(I finished this posting on my ipad, my phone app died and never came back, and it doesn’t post videos. Better luck to me next time!)

Stay tuned for more in Ho Chi Minh city, and lots of missing postings from the Philippines in upcoming weeks.

Cheers!

Darren