This update comes a few days late, we have been quite busy seeing the sites and I have not had time to keep the blogs up to date. I have a few more days to post up and should have these up in the next few days.
Day 8 and 9 were both based in Saigon. We did a full day walking around the city to see some key places including the Opera House, Central Post Office, Hotel Continental and Ben Thanh market.
Saigon is a very busy city, there are cars and scooters everywhere and whenever you are walking you have to be watching every direction as the scooters drive on the road and on the sidewalk. Crossing the road is an interesting process, even on a green crossing light the scooters keep coming. To cross the road you have to just walk when you see a gap, this often means crossing to the middle and waiting until another gap and then crossing the 2nd half of the road.
Shopping is not overly cheap in this city, the department stores are more expensive than Australia and the markets are very much Australian pricing. The Ben Thanh Market was an interesting experience, as soon as you walk into this market you are surrounded by 10 different people asking you to buy things. The market holders are extremely pushy and wait for you to walk away over a price to haggle. Majority of market holders will lower their prices if pushed or if you just walk away. The market is a great place for pick pockets so you have to be very careful of pockets and bags.
We were not convinced on the trip up the Mekong as we thought it would be similar to Tonle Sap in Cambodia. We were wrong. The Mekong is quite interesting and the water is a lot cleaner than the Tonle Sap. We saw floating markets, saw how the locals make coconut candy (very yummy), saw locals make rice paper and went on a San Pan boat up a small inlet of the Mekong river. We booked this one through Yolo tours and our tour guide was extremely informative. I probably would book through another tour company if I did it again though, whilst the tour guide was very informative, he stopped for breakfast on the way and we had to wake him up at one of the stops as he decided to have a sleep. He also slept he whole way home in the van, he was not as good as our previous tour guides.
Whilst in Saigon we could not figure out why we were getting sick every time we came back to the hotel, extreme coughing and difficulty breathing. Every time we came back to the hotel the symptoms came back and got to the point that M was taken to hospital with difficulty breathing, being diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection. On further investigation into what could be causing this, I noticed a huge amount of mould growing on the roof of the hotel room. All three rooms had this mould and this was consistent with the sickness that we were experiencing. Whilst the staff at the hotel were great, the rooms were disgusting and I would not recommend anyone stay at this hotel. If you go to Saigon, stay away from Townhouse 23!