Me again. I'm 1 day behind reporting on our last day in Vietnam. Yesterday we headed out the the Mekong Delta. To say it was nice to get away from the hustle bustle of the city is an understatement. The day was filled w numerous activities including a boat ride across the Mekong river to visit honey bees and try tea w honey, bee pollen, and lime. It was delicious. We also visited a local family who showed us how they made coconut candy. Also quite tasty. We were then serenaded by locals who also played us music while we tasted local fruits. My favorite part of this day was taking a hand rowed sampan (canoe) down a lazy part of the Mekong. Very relaxing and felt so Vietnamese. It was then off to a 5 course lunch (mmm), visit to a floating fish farm (underwhelming), before ending w a rainy trip to a pagoda to get in some Buddhism and check out the monks. By far my favorite day in Vietnam!
Today was an interesting day. After my last entry, we headed out to the Cu Chi tunnels. Our very informative tour guide, Jimmy, and his driver picked us up and drove us out to Cu Chi town. Along the way, Jimmy gave us the low down on HCMC's history and many tid bits about the tunnel. Upon arrival to the tunnels, we sat in an underground room and watched a propaganda film where words like, "wonderful" and "enjoyable," were used to describe the experience being depicted on the screen. Pictures of smiling Vietnamese were shown playing cards and musical instruments-pretty sure that's not how it all went down. While it was all fascinating-the use of no tools on this intricate 3 level tunnel system, etc-from time to time you'd get the very sober realization that many, many people lost their lives there. In my pics, you'll see evidence of weaponry and booby traps. Eventually we were all offered the opportunity to climb down into and walk-eventually crawl-(tunnels grew narrower and narrower
3 July 2017
On the way back into town, we stumbled upon a large street food market. To me, all options looked fabulous. I thought for a moment about going w Korean BBQ, but landed on pho and was not disappointed. Paired w fresh basil, spicy red pepper, and a spicy sauce to toss in was absolutely delicious. Eddie got the Bahn Mi which he said he really liked after sampling, but turned out to be good, but not great after adding a spice he was not a fan of. Had local beer, including a draft choice described by the tender as "strong," but tasted like a different take on a classic lager. No complaints. I actually liked it. We then headed to "back packer's" street where we saw fire baton twirlers and bars blasting bad American pop/club music. We landed on 2 rooftop bars. The second had a pretty cool view of the city. There, we each had a snack. I went w coconut fried rice (yum) and a fresh pressed juice that included ginger, so you know I was as happy. Ended w a walk home, dropping the boys 4 mani/pedis
...through the system. At the first narrowing, my heart began to pound. Being Surrounded by dirt and clay w not even enough room to stand or outstretch your arms is terrifying. I bailed. (Much like the young Vietnamese soldiers in the propaganda video-my happy face in the tunnel pic above is a total facade). Parker and Eddie bravely made it 40 yards in before they came darting out (exits every 10 yards for tourists). At the end, we were treated to tapioca and tea..nice, but also kind of strange. I will say I enjoyed the tapioca. That's all for now. More to come later...
Recouped on some sleep last night and headed out for an iced Vietnamese coffee. Ordered the medium bodied which upon first taste was stee-rong, but after a good stir quite tasty. Then it was off to the market (many interesting finds-see pics) and the reunification palace to check out some Vietnam war history. Pictured above is the helicopter used to evacuate the last US soldiers in Saigon, ending the war. We headed across the street for a yummy Vietnamese lunch. Still a bit timid so I went with a very tasty, spicy chicken and rice noodle salad. PB's order was the most adventurous - not sure what kind of meat it was but looked good - wrapped around bamboo w rice paper to wrap it. About to head to the Cu Chi tunnels to check out some Vietcong history. Stay tuned...
Vietnam welcomed me at 9:35 tonight after a long day of travel. 14 hours from ATL to Seoul was quickly followed by another 5 hrs to Ho Chi Minh City. Smooth sailing obtaining my visa and getting through customs - a definite positive to coming to SE Asia in the summer - little to no line. Arrived outside the airport to find a young Vietnamese man holding a sign with my friend's name. We quickly loaded our luggage and climbed into the taxi. To be a later Sunday evening time, Ho Chi is going. Tons and tons of people speed by us and at all angles on mopeds. Lots of honking and somewhat scary scenarios occur around us, but my friends and I arrive safely at our hotel. Quick change and we go out to walk and explore. Overall a fun journey. I'd say the best part so far - my friend rolling the dice with his first street food cart. A hard boiled egg. Seemed harmless enough. Until he spit it out on the sidewalk in disgust. We eventually learn that it was a partially fertilized duck embryo. Cheers!