Today was the last full day in Ho Chi Minh, which is too bad because I was just starting to get used to the crazy traffic, hotness and good food! Okay, the hotness is not really something I have gotten used to, I know it does not sound very cute, but it is so hot here, that you even sweat when just standing in the shadows!
Anyway, today we did a city tour, which we did not by foot but mostly by bus. We started off at the palace where the Vietnam war ended when two tanks drove through the fences to it. A very impressive building, but we did not go inside. So it was just outside taking some pictures, looking around and then we were heading to the Notre Dame cathedral of Ho Chi Minh. I liked the Dunkin Donuts more, which was on the same square! 😉 Just kidding, but it was a lovely building. I really enjoying going into the biggest post office of Vietnam, which is next to the Notre Dame.
I could have used some extra time, as I only had half an hour to buy some souvenirs, take a few pictures, go to Dunkin Donuts for that sweet goodness we currently cannot get in The Netherlands and head back to the bus. Especially because these adorable Vietnamese kids that I cannot say no to started to ask all these questions. They have a lot of language courses in Vietnam where kids have to go on the streets to ask tourists things in their language. That can be French, but mostly it is English.
So first I was asked about the country I am from, so I learned the little kids everything there is to know about ‘stamppot’. They even wanted to know the ingredients hihi, very cute how they were all staring at me while struggling to find the English words to ask me things. After being at this very busy square, we went to the War Remnants museum, which is easily one of the experiences in this trip that will stick with us for quite some time.
That is not just because of the big tanks and planes they are having on display, as it is far more than just a collection of the physical things that the war has left. In the Agent Orange room, which is beautifully lit with orange lights, you get to see how they spread the chemicals, but even more you will see what effect it has had on the people that got hurt by it, and their children, and their children… It is really heartbreaking to see all the pictures, and even embryos, of deformed Vietnamese citizens.
Even though the museum mainly shows the Vietnam/America war from one side, it is still very important to go and see it for yourself. Plus, it is not hostile or anything, there were also lots of Americans in the museum. After all this war the Vietnamese people have definitely shown that they are not the type of people that would be holding a grudge against other peoples. You even see a lot of influence coming from the French, the Chinese and the Japanese in Vietnam.
After the war remnants museum, we went to the Chinese market, which was not just super hot and sweaty; it was also very crowded and narrow. It was an amazing journey though, our tour guide took us all the way through it for half an hour, and then we had half an hour to shop for ourselves. The market had a lot of candy shops, but also many stores with fabric, bags and New Year items. The Vietnamese New Year is coming up, and this is a very important time of year as the Vietnamese are off for 9 days (lucky number here). Even though when we arrived in Vietnam everything was Christmassy in the big city, now those Christmas decorations have been replaced by red and golden New Years items (or Tet, as they call it here). Very lovely.
In the afternoon we relaxed in our room for a bit, as we were so hot on the market that we needed some time to cool down. In the evening we had our goodbye dinner as we were on a group trip, which we had at Koto, a very good restaurant where street kids are taught how to work in a restaurant. Good food, a nice atmosphere and a good location at the rooftop of the building. Me and my family went to the REX hotel afterwards, to another rooftop terrace to enjoy some very good cocktails (they make them pretty strong out here). Too bad I threw at least one-third of my Grasshopper onto my newly (custom) made robot dress. Hopefully I can still save it. My clumsiness often makes me feel like Bridget Jones, especially because I can usually see it coming.
Anyway, we have had a very lovely last day in Vietnam and it is going to be hard to say goodbye tomorrow.