Arrival and nightime shenanigans
We (myself and Ben, the guy I met in Hoi An) arrived in Saigon at about 6pm and spent a good half an hour walking around with our rucksacks trying to find a place to stay as everywhere seemed to be full. We finally found a place which was ok, good enough for the two nights I was to spend here.
Ben only really had one evening to see the city so after we cleaned up, we embarked on a full evening’s itinerary of nightime sightseeing (and boozing, of course!). We began the evening by taking a bite to eat at a wonderful street cafe. I had this amazing DIY spring rolls meal which involved cooking your own strips of beef on your portable barbeque which was actually a roof tile sitting atop a ceramic container holding extremely hot coals. This was great fun and tasted amazing. We washed our dinner down with a couple of Saigon beers and decided we wanted to go up in th world. We made our way to the Caravelle Hotel which had a great roof terrace bar called Saigon Saigon and supped on Mojitos, taking in the stunning vistas of the city. Afterwards, we walked the streets, looking at some of the major city sights, all of which made us very thrirsty so we got back to our ‘Street’ roots and had several beers in a local streetside cafe, us being the only western faces in the place. Before long we got the beer hunger and took a look at the food menu. We decided to avoid the “Steamed Chicken’s Penis” and go for something safe like grilled chicken leg. Oh dear. The translation was a little skew-wiff and infact it wasn’t a juicy leg of chicken but instead chicken’s feet! Undeterred and unwilling to ‘lose face’ (a big part of SE Asian culture) we ploughed on and actually quite enjoyed our spicy chicken’s feet, feeling fairly proud of ourselves.
After a number of beers here we decided to move on towards our hotel. Well, we had the best of intentions anyway but how could we turn down a packed bar which was banging out loud music. “Just the one”, we said.
About five or six beers later it was approaching dawn, the bar still busy and we had been throughly entertained. Saigon has a reputation for the availabilty of prostitutes and it is common to have them propositioning you IN the bars! Once they realised we were not potential clients, they let us be and we got on with enjoying our beers and watching the dirty old men acting like they were 16 and not 60!
Finally made it to bed around 5.30am! Phew!
Saigon Day Two
Needless to say I didn’t drag myself out of bed too early today but I took a walk around the city and visited the War Museum which was very shocking and a little upsetting – some of the pictures and artifacts really strike home the brutality of war.
In the evening, I went for dinner at another street stall and then went for some Bia Hoi, cheap local brew beer served on small plastic seats on the streets priced at 10 pence per litre! Holy shit, that’s cheap! I sat there chatting to some of the people in the place and three litres later, it was getting late so I headed back to my hotel in preparation for my departure the next day to Siem Reap, Cambodia.