|The train arrived an hour late, we got off and made our way acroos the platform, hoping to see the taxi the hotel was supposed to arrange for us. No taxi was waiting, so we joined the mayhem that has happening before us as people fought to get taxis while men in raincoats blew whistles and banged on the bonnets of taxis, talk about organised chaos. We eventually bagged ouyrselves a taxi for the short ride to the hotel. When we arrived the hotel was in darkness and the shutters were down, we rang the bell and the shutters went up and we climbed the stairs to the lobby. We were told we could have a room from nine o'clock, so we made ourselves comfortable on the sofas in the lobby, only to notice a used condom under the coffee table, nice. At 6.30 the day time receptionist took over and we were told we could have a room from 7.30. We waited till then and made our way up to the 4th floors, nothing as fancy as a lift in this hotel. We fell into bed and slept till 11. Got up dressed and now it was time to explore Saigon. The sky was grey and the drizzle was relentless and kept on most of the day. We walked along ignoring the people who were trying to sell us raincoats, bottles of water or lifts in their cyclos. After 16 hours on a train it was a day to get our legs working. First stop was Saigon's Notre Dame cathedral, we got there to find it was shut, a church shut on a Sunday what is that all about? We wandered up to the War Remnants Museum, formely known as the Museum Of American War Crimes. The museum like the war museum in Hanoi had planes, helicopters and various pieces of artillery captured from the Americans, it also had instruments of torture used by the Americans including barbed wire cages that weren't big enough to stand in that contained about 5 prisoners. Plus photos of prisoners with 6 inch nails through there ankles, knees and skulls, pretty gory stuff.
From there we wandered down to the Xa Loi Pagoda, during the Vietnam war this war was attacked and 400 monks wrer imprisoned inside some were killed. Unfortunately we didnt get to go into the temple as a service was going on , so it was just photos from the outside. We stopped for lunch at a Vietnamese cafe where we both had a bowl of Pho, the national dish of Vietnam, it is a beef noodle soup, very filling and very healthy.
We walked down to the Reunification Palace, but that closed at 4pm and we arrived at 4.10pm, not a good day for things being shut. We made our way back to the water puppet theatre to watch the 5pm performance and had a surprisingly good time. A very entertaining show despite it all being in Vietnamese, but puppets were really good and well made with even a fire breathing dragon. Angie took about 100 pictures in there. We strolled back to the hotel through the large cultural park in the centre of Saigon. A pleasant way to end the afternoon, with courting couples kissing on the benches, others playing badminton and another strange game similar to badminton where you kick an adapted shuttlecock. There were hedges shaped into dragons and tigers, plus a large aerobics class going on.
We got back to the hotel, booked our 7 hour bus journey to Chau Doc on Tuesday, showered and changed then out for our evening meal. Made a few mistakes on the ordering front and got far too much food including 16 spring rolls. Had a couple of beers on the way back to the hotel and that was the end of day one in Saigon. Hope the weather is better tomorrow.