March 8 to 11, 2023
We spent almost 4 days docked about 20 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon. It was amazing.
We booked 2 of the nights in the Caravelle Hotel right in the center of the city. A beautiful historic hotel where the reporters sent out daily updates during the war. Service was stellar. Such a great experience.
The rivers are a huge part of this area and I tried to capture a few pictures of the life on the river. I was fascinated by the cargo barges that people live on that have gardens on the roof.
The city itself is a sensory overload, so much to see and smell and hear. And the traffic, we had heard it was bad, but it is actually epic! So many motorcycles, pictures cannot capture it.
Around the city there are flowers and pagodas, old buildings and new and somehow the city actually smells good, it must be all the plumeria trees that are everywhere.
We went to a wood lacquer art gallery and saw them making beautiful items. They used duck egg shells to make the designs.
We also went to the Ben Thanh market, it is huge and has everything.
We walked a night market (Nguyen Hue pedestrian street) that had a carnival atmosphere, families out for the evening having a great time, balloons and toy vendors and musicians and these little food kiosks on wheels. Turns out selling food here is not allowed and when ever the call came out that the police were coming the little food stands disappeared very fast and then a few minutes later they were back cooking again. No one batted an eye, part of life here. It’s was awesome to watch.
On day 2 in the city Susan and a friend booked a market tour and cooking class and then an evening trip to the opera.
Also on day 2 myself and 3 other friends did a long day trip to the Cu Chi tunnels and the Mekong Delta.
I even went into the tunnel, very very small (I had to crawl) and a bit claustrophobic. I will not be doing that 30 meter trip again. Along with working versions of the many traps that were set in the forest, there was a demonstration of how to make shoes out of old tires, I thought the guy was going to cut his foot off. They dug air holes through termite mounds to hide them from the Americans and they dispersed smoke though a series of small tunnels to hide the kitchens. There were trap doors that are really invisible and our friend Deb actually went in and it was amazing how good it worked. The place it self really showed the ingenuity of the Vietnamese people and the horrors of war.
The Delta was again a set of new experiences that included holding the frame from a bee hive with zero protection, getting personal with a 10 foot python and riding in a very tippy sanpan (canoe like boat). We also saw personal fish farms where floating houses are built directly over a fish cage and they care for and harvest the fish from holes in the bottoms of the houses.
Everywhere we went the people were so friendly, the flowers are everywhere, the sights are amazing and I would go back to and extended vacation for sure.