Revisiting Saigon, as many people still call it, does not disappoint.
We stayed at the Cat Huy Guesthouse, tucked down a laneway in District One which is centrally located and easy walking distance to restaurants and shops and to many of the main attractions of the city. Big room, tiled floors, clean as can be, solid bed – in true Vietnamese style – loving it.
View from our window
The laneway below turns into a beehive of activity from about 6am until 4:30 pm, when all the vendors pack up and disappear until the next morning. Fruit and veg of all kinds, fish and meat, clothes and jewellery…. and household items galore.
While we were here, sadly the mother of a large family a couple of doors up from us died and for the next four days, we were able to witness the mourning ceremony at the house. On the last day they carried the coffin with the body from the house, up the laneway and into a waiting van for cremation later in the day. As the pallbearers take the coffin out, they pause, turn to face the house, and bow the coffin down three times to say the last farewell to the home where this old lady lived and loved all of her life. RIP.
So many sights to revisit this time around- and most within walking distance. After getting to the Indian Consulate the first morning to organise our Visa for our upcoming India trip, we revisited the Bin Thanh markets, the War Museum, the Reunification Palace, the Saigon Post Office, the Opera House, The Cathedral and much more. What a great city – sights, sounds, smells, people and TRAFFIC!! It is as it was and it was great to see it all again
Reunification Palace- where the Communist regime of Ho Chi Minh finally claimed South Vietnam and the last American helicopter fled from the roof of the Palace with some of the foreigners fleeing the country.
The War Museum- although we have been there before, it still numbs you and makes you realise the futility of war and that mankind certainly does not learn from its mistakes.
The Roman Catholic Church of Saigon
And, of course, the Opera House in its glory.
Tao Dan Park, Ho Chi Minh City
All of this sightseeing made us very hungry and thirsty. On the next street to our guesthouse is a km. of bars, restaurants, massage parlours, etc. Called Bui Vien Street it is great for meeting fellow travellers and for people watching and beer drinking…. Even got to watch two of the semi-final AFL games in a sports bar on the strip. All good, except for the afternoon we returned from the Cu Chi Tunnels, arriving to a flooded city. We waded knee deep to our restaurant and had a fun night with a bunch of bedraggled travellers. An hour later the streets had subsided and three wines later we went home!
A highlight for us was a day trip to the Cao Dai Temple. Somewhat ornate and just a bit over the top, we were fortunate enough to be there for their mid day worship. This religion has been in existence since only 1926. A monotheistic religion they seem to have some good ideas – at least on first look.
The front entrance of the Temple – we were not permitted to enter here and were instructed by several very bossy ladies and gentlemen on where to enter, where to leave our shoes, what to do etc. Quite a spectacle.
You will have to imagine all the chanting, music and bell ringing that goes along with these pics.
On Sunday we went to look at the shops – Food Heaven!!
Macrons as far as the eye can see
There is almost any kind of cuisine you could want here – oh – and clothes, shoes, make up, electrical goods, furniture, homewares etc etc….
It was about this time that one of the many uniformed store guards asked me to stop taking photos…..???? but being the sneaky law breaker that I am I got these before we left…. note the Aussie wines…. not cheap here…..
Just launched in July 2016 this shopping mall is pretty spectacular and a great place to see well off Vietnamese families dressed in their finest shopping and enjoying a day our in Saigon. Le Loi Street, Ben Nghe Ward District 1.
Close by on Dong Khoi Street you will find the high end shops at the Vincom Centre such as Hermes, Dior, Channel etc…. take your credit card! These are not your knock offs..
Saigon – Ho Chi Minh is a wonderful mix of old and new. A safe city which offers great sights, history, good restaurants and friendly people. The Bitexco Financial Tower my fav building in Saigon. It can be seen from almost all over…
You may have wondered why it has taken such a long time for this post to appear… we have now been in India for six weeks and just about everywhere we have been we’ve had internet issues. We hope that this is now rectified and we can bring you up to date with our Incredible India stories. Thanks for reading….