I arrived in Saigon after a crazy 11 hour bus ride from Siem Reap. I was sold a ticket on the “VIP bus”, but they never showed up to pick me up from my hotel, so I was rushed to the bus company by tuk tuk. When I arrived I showed them my ticket and was told, “wait lady”. I had no clue what was going on, so I sat and waited. After about 30 minutes a man walked in from the street, so I tried again and showed him my ticket. He pointed me to the orange and white disco bus across the street. A couple of minutes later we started driving through town, picking up several people with kids, babies, etc. for the next hour. When we got on the road, it was apparent the bus had absolutely no shocks….I was in for a long, bumpy ride!….Sweet!!! I swear public transportation is half the journey!
Midday , we stopped for lunch at a roadside kitchen. There were several pots of random animal parts boiling away. Needless to say, I opted for the water diet. I just wasn’t feeling that adventurous with six or seven hours to go. By the time we reached to boarder at Xa Mat, Vietnam, there were five guys from Myanmar, two locals and me left on the bus.
The crossing was a little confusing as we had to get off the bus, go through the visa check and passport check, then get our bag off the bus and go through the passport line again and get our bags scanned…anyway, the guys from Myanmar spoke some English and helped me through the process. Once in Vietnam, they asked the driver to stop for some cold drinks. When they returned they smiled and handed me a Red Bull…AWESOME!!!
I was pondering how it was going to go finding the hotel I had booked in this huge city. It seemed like finding a needle in the haystack until suddenly I looked out the window and spotted the Saigon Dragon….my hotel! Then, the bus pulled over and stopped to let everyone out right across the street! Can you believe it? I was pumped!!
Everyone at the hotel was great and after getting cleaned up, I sat down with the at the tour desk. This woman was amazing. She hung out with me until 9:30pm looking at different things I could do for my last week. I decided to stay in Saigon for a couple of days and see some sights. The following morning I took a half day city tour and saw the war museum, a cool old church, a pagoda, etc. It was nice to learn a bit about the history and very sad to see the pictures in the museum. I didn’t realize some of the ongoing effects of the agent orange.
Day two, I took a trip to the Mekong delta. We drive out to the river and loaded into boats where we cruised around a bit, drank coconut milk and landed on Unicorn Island. We tried some of the local honey, teas and coconut candies before having a fun lunch with local fish, squid, fish, spring rolls and fish….yum! In the afternoon we took boats through the canals and walked through town. Kind of a corny tour, but interesting.
When we got back, I cleaned up and went to dinner at a little restaurant along the street. There was a fun vibe so I stayed for a couple of drinks and observed as date night/party night unfolded at the club across the street. People came in masses as the narrow street filled up with girls dressed in mini skirts and stilettos on their cute pink and white mopeds and guys in their flip flops on their cool dirt bikes.