Saigon(Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam

We arrive Feb. 5th from Delhi. There are 3 Canadian ladies leaving the group tomorrow morning. They have been with the rest of the group (12) since Hanoi. Those twelve will be with us through Cambodia to Bangkok. The hotel is a “boutique” hotel… me that means small but chic…… maybe too small to move is more like it. Went for out to dinner to an upstairs restaurant…..Vietnamese band with traditional instruments including a 2 stringed violin and another was made of bamboo but operated along the same lines as a xylophone. There was someone making beautiful figurines on sticks made from pay doh. It is Tet in Vietnam. The streets have so many neon lights. It’s beautiful. Kind of gives Shanghai a run for its money. Maybe there will not be a lot of stores open during this period of Tet. We were told later to not have purses or iPhones, cameras hanging out where they can be snatched.  
Feb. 6/16

Mekong River tour. The river is tidal…twice per day……. 5 metre fluctuation. Our first stop is Unicorn island. We stop at a bee farm where there was a python that we all got to drape around our shoulders. See pics on Facebook. I will post later on this site if you don’t do Facebook. Anyway, it was quite heavy, was not at all slimey, it just wanted to slither out of our hands. You had to get a good grip on it sort of strangling it. There is Rat Island but it’s only for locals. At that point we are 50 km to ocean and it is 10 hours to Saigon from here by water. There are no crocs or sharks in the river.

No chemical fertilizer are allowed to be used.

No water from river is used for drinking or cooking.

Okay to swim in river cuz the snakes are not poisonous

Nov-apr. drier; May to October rainy season

17 million live on Mekong 

River boats have cage under to keep fish (catfish and tilapia)….grow to 1 kilo.. for export

Rice wine called happy water

Snake water and rice wine good for men….make babies.

Very hot (30+C) and sticky.
February 7/16

Hotel was lovely here in Saigon… But the the breakfast (included) yesterday and this morning was disgusting as was lunch yesterday. Coffee totaIly cold. I was concerned about eating in India and so brought protein bars and shakes but really the food there, although could be hot, hot, hot……it tasted much better there than here. There was a step in the lobby that everyone didn’t seem to see and so would trip over and almost fall but Jeanette actually did this morning….landing on here hip.  

Getting ready for departure this morning was stressful. We have to be able to carry luggage….onto public bus, have documentation for entry into Cambodia, more money for water out of room…not free….can’t find extra money. I will survive. 

When in India the cars, trucks, tins of tuk-tuks, just every form of transportation squeezes in wherever, beeping constantly ….not pissed off but to warn others that they are there, not moving (last day in Delhi the traffic would move maybe a hundred feet then stop and wait, turn off engine, move another hundred feet, stop, wait, turn off engine, yadda yadda). Here in Saigon same but different….many, many more motor bikes, no tuk-tuks but the motor bikes generally keep to the right side of road unless changing for a turn…not so chaotic (by the way they drive on right hand side of road here….not so in India). Motor bikes carry 2 adults, maybe two kids, groceries, plants and trees, another bicycle…all at same time…..amazing. We saw a bike with 2 adults, to bantam roosters , in plastic bags, one on either side like saddle bags…alive, along with another bag of whatever. Uunlike in India, adults here always wear helmets and most children too. I would say that better than fifty percent, children as well, wear face masks apparently to keep out dust. Pollution doesn’t seem to be the problem. No flys here. No mosquitos and no sleeping policemen (speed bumps). India was littered with them. In towns, veggie and fruit stands as well as raw meat hanging. Not the most sanitary conditions but not green and slimy as I had seen once in Mexico..

4000 Buddhist temples with 20-100 monks in each in Cambodia… and women.

There seem to be lots of women driving motor cycles both here in Cambodia and Vietnam as opposed to India where it was a rarity. In India, if you saw a woman on a motorbike, they would be riding in the rear….sidesaddle. I remember seeing a sign at a “learn to ride academy” in Delhi that said to use helmets “even women”. Mostly no one uses them there.

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