29.03.2011 - 29.03.2011 32 °C
Wow... The last few days have been hectic to say the least. I’ll begin the story on the 29th, our first full day in Ho Chi Minh.
After waking up from a night’s sleep that was endlessly serenaded by the horns of a thousand motorbikes we headed off to Ben Thanh Markets. Surprisingly however they were shut early in the morning. The instant we realised that it was shut something must have changed on our faces that displayed uncertainty and like lambs to the slaughter we were approached by a pair of cyclo drivers that offered to take us on a day tour to see the sights of the city for only $3 each.
Our tour commenced with a quick stop at a little restaurant where we were treated to the delights of the famous Vietnamese dish Pho Bo. It is a beef and noodle soup and can be purchased at 10 meter intervals all along nearly every street in Ho Chi Minh. It was super delicious and I am certain it will not be the last time we have it.
The next stop was the war museum and with an entry fee around 80 cents it was well worth it. The museum itself contains 4 floors each with a different theme. Nothing in the museum is censored and when you enter expect to get bitch slapped with endless images of maimed soldiers and mutilated corpses. It is a real eye-opener and makes you realise that every American movie of the Vietnam war that you see back in Australia is a 100% toned down version of what really went on over here. The stories of grotesque massacres and pictures on the wall of American soldiers having a big laugh with the severed heads of Vietnamese farmers all around them is fairly disturbing and it is no wonder they came back from the war so fucked up.
One of the things you notice when you come to Vietnam is the high number of people with physical deformities and the Agent Orange floor of the museum explains exactly why. Even in present day Vietnam babies are still being born with congenital defects due to the defoliation missions launched by the Americans over most of the jungle areas. A huge tank containing the deformed foetuses of many babies is fairly unsettling and you don’t need to spend much time in the room to feel like you need a shower.
I would recommend the War Museum to everyone who has the pleasure of visiting Ho Chi Minh.
After leaving the museum we felt like we needed to cleanse ourselves and clear our minds, and what better place to do it than a local mosque. It was a calm, tranquil escape from the bustling streets and a perfect place to regather your thoughts after an intense morning – plus it only cost a small donation ~50 cents to the man who looked after our shoes while we were inside
It was now time to end our cyclo trip, however this was going to prove harder than we first anticipated. The drivers of the cyclo’s took us to a bus shelter and when we hopped out they pushed their bikes in behind us, effectively trapping us inside the bus shelter with no way to get out. We thought it was time to pay our $3 (50,000 dong) but instead they pulled out some random price list that said 500,000 dong per hour per person!! We were pissed off and argued with them that they quoted us 50,000 for the day but they told us that was the cost of the museum etc. They got really aggressive towards us and starting yelling that we owed them 2 million dong each. We didn’t even have that much cash. We thought we were about to get shanked and left for dead in some bus stop so we gave them around 1.5 million dong before we quickly escaped.
After getting burned like that we have learnt to be very firm and not budge, it was just the fact that it was our first day in Vietnam and they could sense the fresh blood and our insecurities. Oh well…gotta learn somehow!
After such an intense day we just chilled out and drank 50c tallys of beer and got an hour massage each for $6
^^ I took this video while we crossed the road on the cyclo's. The road rules in Vietnam are give way to things bigger than you and cross the road slowly so things have time to go around you haha.