February 27, 2019
Sad day… we are at Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) airport ready for our flight home. Gloomy…..
We have had the most awesome holiday and facing the reality of heading back is difficult. Normally after a two week holiday we are keen to get back home to normality but strangely we are not looking forward to it at all. Of course it will be great to catch up with family and friends (you know who you are…..) but things have been so relaxed for two months that…..
Anyway…Monday, the weather was glorious beach weather. The wind had dropped and the temp was …hot. Walked the 200 metres to Da Nang beach for a swim, play with the waves and spend time with our fun ‘skimming’ ball (that Michelle called Bobby..!).
Then a quick shower and off to the market. We wanted more cheap clothes and two new suitcases. The trouble is the cases in the street market were cheap in quality as well as price so abandoned it and we had a couple of beers instead…! More people and traffic watching alongside the river. We then ‘Grab taxied’ to the mall and bought a bright yellow suitcase for Michelle and a bright orange one for me. (£40 each). We really look the business now.!
Then, of course, as it was still not dark we went back to the beach for our last South China Sea swim. Getting sadder by the minute.
Yesterday we had a brilliant send-off by the staff at the Haka hotel. As it is a small boutique hotel they are much more personable and we got to know them quite well in the 5 days. Really helpful and friendly. Couple of them stood at the door waving us off in yet another Grab taxi…to Da Nang airport. There was a delay of 2 hours, (the first of our entire trip) but we coped and enjoyed a good flight to Ho Chi Minh (Saigon). Incidentally this flight cost us 3 times more than the flight from Ho Chi Minh. We did get caught out … we kinda forgot to book it until the day before (!) and seats were pretty full. £350 for 3 of us (including our shiny new orange and banana flavoured suitcases….)
Ho Chi Minh…what can I say… we thought the roads in Da Nang were ‘exciting’.. gawd… Ho Chi Minh is mental, absolutely crazy mad, hilariously funny, impossible to believe…. bonkers. There are cars and mopeds/scooters crammed in so tightly that door handles, are inches from handlebars, 4,5,6 deep across the road. I cannot overstate the chaos. However, somehow it works. We saw loads of near misses but not one collision in the two days we were there. Photos don’t do it justice and hopefully I can squeeze a bit of video footage onto the blog but it must be seen to be believed. We constantly giggled and gasped on every trip. Crossing the road is easy for us now. We even enjoy the challenge…..! Just take one look first…step out and walk confidently across the four lanes. We didn’t get hit once.! Gotta be a bit wary of the scooters coming the wrong way along the road or even along the footpath ..! but they are all aware of their surroundings and seem quite relaxed. Do they have driving tests here?…
And..this is the first time in all the countries we have visited that they drive on the right. Surprisingly…
So…Michelle had triumphed again with a superb Lotus Central hotel in the centre. Two nice rooms for just 3.8 million Dong..(£125)including breakfast. AND they upgraded us to two suites. Thank you very much.
Straight out into the lively bar/restaurant part of town and found a place that was good after initially abandoning another dump. In balmy 30 degree temperatures we enjoyed a nice Vietnamese dinner washed down with cocktails. Was our last night after all.
Today…As our flights are 23.55 depart we had time to spare so visited the fascinating War Remnants museum after breakfast. Three hours of in-depth education (if slightly biased) about the Vietnam war. The museum was originally called ‘The Exhibition House for US and Puppet Regime Crime’ which gives some idea of the anger at the time. The museum has helicopters, war planes and tanks etc and shows some pretty horrific images of the torment. It was far more meaningful to us as we now knew Vietnamese people and had a tiny understanding of the geography. To see the aircraft shelters and control tower in the old part of Da Nang made the war very real. It didn’t end till 1975. ….
Our last meal and drink was dinner in a street market near the city centre then back to the hotel to collect our bags. Yet another beloved Grab taxi to the airport and here we are… three backpacks, one rucksack and two brightly coloured suitcases (with 4 wheels each mind you! ) headed back onto the road..home…. ☹️
Did you know…there are about 8.5 million population in Ho Chi Minh…about the same as London. (Most of them ride scooters round all day…!!)