27.11.2013 - 28.11.2013
After over preparing ourselves for Ho Chi Minh City with tales of scooter craziness and bag snatching scares in mind we actually found it a really pleasant and is one of our favourite stops (and last) in Vietnam. Now writing this having left I think its okay to share some statistics that may have worried my mum a bit. On the way to Cu Chi tunnels our guide explained that if you buy a car in Vietnam you have to pay 300% tax hence why there is more than one scooter for every two people in the city. He said that 20 people die per day in Saigon from a scooter accident, 400 a month in the whole of Vietnam and in total 14,000 last year. So clearly his math is a bit off so let's just summarise it that a lot of people die from scooter accidents. Probably because there are hardly any pavements to walk on because the Vietnamese eat, sleep, get married, park and piss on them. Traffic lights are more of a guide of how fast to go through them and everyone is intent on their destination and will risk a head on collision to avoid any use of breaks. The good news is that we didn't die and we are so good at crossing roads now that other westerners follow closely behind us. (Probably using our bodies as a shield. )
We went to watch some locals play shuttle and Dan bought one to take home (See my instagram for a video. I believe a Larkins reunion is on the cards when we return) While we watched a young girl approached us wanting to practice her English. She was with her dad and younger sister and had travelled for 30 mins to the city center to find someone English to speak to. We spoke to her for about an hour in total and attracted two more boys who wanted to talk about Chelsea players with Dan. Like most, she was keen to hear all about tattoos, there was a moment when she didn't know what to say in fear of insulting us but we let her know that we understood that women with tattoos are seen as criminals and general scum by the older generation- to which she confirmed but proclaimed her personal love for them. The compliments continued when she told me that my eyes are weird and she normally only sees brown or black coloured eyes. Finally on the same day that I tried a new center parting hair do, one of the guys told Dan I looked like the Mona Lisa. I've not since worn my hair the same.
Whilst in Saigon we also visited Cu Chi tunnels which like all S E Asian attractions could do with some improvements such as crowd control, and information signs. But Dan shot an AK47 so apparently not a wasted day.
We also went to see Catching Fire at a cinema that was so western that halfway through I snapped out of my film absorption and realised I wouldn't be exiting via westwood cross car park in the rain. With the excitement of the film it was all a bit much and my heart raced as I realised that I was going back out onto the smelliest streets where bbq pig kidney and chicken feet at breakfast on a plastic stall is normal. Panic soon over.
Another day on the way to a museum a local gave us incorrect directions as she probably didn't want to loose face. It was hot and I was tired so we jumped into a taxi. He then misunderstood us and tried to take us to another museum. We made it to the right one eventually. Only 200m around the corner from where we asked for directions. This is when the language and tourist barrier becomes frustrating and I miss just being able to get somewhere or something without having a constant battle to communicate and not get scammed. At the same museum something very strange happened...
We were the only two on the museum tour and the guide dressed up us and took lots of photos of us. I felt like Professor Quirrell.
I think you can tell that we are not sure about any of this 'pretend your in a pharmacy thing
The same night we went to Baskin Robbins for $3 icecream - which cost more than dinner! We've never been to one before and understand that was a crime. Best chocolate orange and cotton candy flavours EVER!