The Road to Saigon

Yesterday afternoon I boarded the bus at Da Nang to Saigon. Taking around 16 hours – it’s the longest bus ride I’ve ever taken, the previous contender being the 8-10 hour trips around Turkey. Well, there’s an achievement.

It’s difficult killing 16 hours, especially once the battery runs out on the music/life-giving iPAQ. So here’s another set of notes like the last one, since Andrew liked the format so much ๐Ÿ˜‰

Ho Chi Minh trail was closed due to landslides. Minh took me down about 20 metres of it, and past the sign so he still fulfilled the contract we made out previously.

Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh city after the war, an effort to crush the spirit of the people. The further south you get, the more people call it Saigon. Nobody told the people.

Likewise, prices are quoted in US Dollars a lot more here. Every time I ask “how much is that in Dong?”, they look impatiently at me, like I want to pay with snakeskins.

Food is important in Vietnam. During the 16 hour journey we all stopped for inclusive sit-down meals together twice. Rice, fish, meat, vegetables, all shared with strangers around 3 large tables. It beats National Express hands down.

Ignoring the motorbike drivers is the best policy. No more cheerful “No, thank you”, but a determined dive into heavy traffic as they run after you screaming “Where you phhhrrooom?” will stop all but the most determined.

Ceiling geckos will not eat you in the night. Unproven, but a reassuring initial trial.

All of the street restaurants have small plastic garden furniture for tables and chairs… I haven’t found a single place at that sells it.

I still find it strange whenever I visit an ancient site that’s under-construction. I’m sure the scaffolding is just for restoration or support … But you can never be sure.

It’s perfectly safe if your hotel room’s ceiling is held up by cellotape. I hope.

$12/night hotel rooms in Saigon are not opulent luxury.

As always, send to all you mates – and you’ll find eternal happiness, etc.

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