Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

I am mother to two young adults in their mid to late 20's. I work in the medical field as an admin officer/personal assistant. I look forward to the day when I can spend heaps more time taking and making photographs. However, for now, the bills have to be paid. I married a jazz musician many, many years ago. My adopted home is Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. I am originally from North Queensland... a tropical place!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tuesday 16-10-12

Lots and lots of adventures were had today, starting at 6:30am with breakfast at a cafe where only one person had ANY English.  I ordered a hot white tea and got a tea that was undrinkable because condensed milk had been liberally inserted.  However the chicken soup was pretty damned good!

Went wandering for the next few hours around the local area and came across a street where people had used the footpath as a toilet and, I suggest, non-Vietnamese don't normally venture given the amount of attention we attracted by being there.  Did a 'blockie' around a sensational catholic church/school and ended up in a huge park the purpose of which seemed to be to provide exercise opportunities for the population.  We came across people playing badminton, doing exercises on machines located throughout the park, doing Thai Chi, taking dancing lessons and generally strolling in the cool of the morning.  A lovely place to be.

I had my first experience of paying to go to a public toilet -- the squat type -- which I managed quite well.  As I was leaving, I passed a man going into the women's toilet but have no idea what he was about.  The smell was pretty bad so I left pronto.

Wandering further bought us to the Bin Than Market once again and Mary wanted to buy a paid of long pants to replace a pair that she had to throw out.  I swallowed my apprehension and gamely followed her.  While I was caught up looking at embroidered pictures and deciding which ones to buy, Mary went off and found and purchased her pants.  Bananas then became the object of our attention and we found the food section of the market and purchased a hand of bananas each.  These bananas are like nothing I have tasted before.  They are small -- around 3 to 6 cm long -- and they have a very distinctive taste.  Very nice to have for munchies and easy to take on travels.  Next door to the banana lady we found a nuts stall -- after I had asked where to find nuts!!!  Felt a bit foolish but purchased some roasted peanuts which Mary and I have acquired a taste for since having them at the Rex Hotel yesterday... also good for munchies and to compliment the beers we have.  :-)

We had had enough of walking after the market so caught a taxi back to the hotel and I was very surprised to find it was only 9:30am.  We spent the next few hours to 12 noon relaxing and packing to move ourselves and belongings across the road to the Huong Han Hotel/Guest House which is managed by the lovely Anh. 

We settled ourselves and our luggage in our new rooms and promptly caught a taxi to the central Post Office to post some gifts I had purchased which would not fit in my luggage.  This was an educational activity in the functioning of the communist system located within a sensational building (see photos).  I had to que for one counter to find out how much it would cost to post the goodies.  I was directed to another counter to have the goodies weighed and then returned to the first counter to obtain a rough estimate of costs.  I then was referred back to the counter which had weighted the goodies and after filling in four different forms with basically the same information, I handed over the goodies and these were packed (very thoroughly).  The forms were duly stamped and one of them attached to the parcel.  I was then given the other forms and told to return to a different counter and wait in line to pay the bill.  When I asked, I was assured the goodies should arrive in Australia in Pascoe Vale South in approximately 3 weeks.  Mary advised me there is no guarantee that the goods will ever arrive but I have faith in the system!!  [Clinton -- please let me know if you haven't received the parcel in 3 weeks.]

I then had a lovely 30 minutes or so photographing the building inside and out and the Notre Dame Cathedral opposite the PO and other buildings in the vicinity.  Just when the photography activity was completed, the storm which had been building during the morning struck so we quickly retired to a lovely cafe which had a long verandah outside well covered by an awning and which sold LATTE's! and watched the storm.  I have had no luck finding a latte since I've been here and this one was so delicious, I promptly had a second!  We had a lovely time with the staff here and will come back if I return to HCMC.

While I was photographing the verandah, I noticed a Commonwealth Bank across the road so went and obtained more of the local currency -- another experience to reflect on at a later date.

A taxi back to the guest house bought us to a street which was flooded.  What an adventure.  Stepping out of the taxi into about half a foot of water, which was swirling with all the rubbish from the street, was an experience.  We then spent the next 30 minutes or so photographing the traffic in the street and had a lot of fun.  The Vietnamese people are a very laid-back lot and this is just life for them.  Noone appears to get upset at chaotic road situations (traffic or flooding) and in fact, what I see as chaotic road situations are quite normal for them.

We had to race off to the optomerist to collect the glasses we ordered yesterday (unbelievable) and they are sensational.  I decided to order another paid of prescription sunglasses as they are so inexpensive here and I will collect them on our return from the Mekong River Tour on Thursday late evening.  Most shops/businesses operate until very late at night and the optomerist staff said they will be working until at least 9pm. We asked them where I could purchase an umbrella and after much discussion amongst themselves, the young apprentice optomerist was delegated the task of ferrying me on the back of his scooter to the market.  What an incredible experience.  I offered up a prayer as I climbed aboard and quickly wanted to close my eyes.   I cannot get used to this traffic and how it operates and I was sure we were going to be wipped out innumerable times.  I finally convinced myself to relax and enjoy the ride -- well, almost.  I was VERY pleased to be returned to the optomerist alive and feeling VERY alive.  [Mary did take some photos so I'll post them at a later date.]

Once back at the guest house, with beers and water purchased on the way, we took a leaf from the local's book and settled back on the well covered verandah with a beer and nuts and a computer to check out hotels in Dalat, the next port of call after the Mekong River Tour which is tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday.  We went to see Anh to ask him to book the hotel we had chosen for us so we didn't have to use a credit card online (most unsecure I have been warned) and Anh talked us into trying another hotel which he highly recommended.  We went with his suggestion and he rang and booked us in for Friday 19th.  I hope it is as good as he remembers.  We get back from the river tour on Thursday latish afternoon/evening and will catch a bus to Dalat that night (overnight) after I collect my new glasses and we eat.  We have been assured these buses are very comfortable so fingers crossed!

Once accommodation for Dalat was completed, we went off for dinner and promptly felt incredibly tired once we had eaten.  Back to the room, washing to complete and hang up to dry overnight, photos to download and a blog diary to complete -- the night is almost complete and it is 1am.  As I have to be up and ready to go at 7am, I'd best get to bed. 

As we will be travelling for the next two days, I may not have access to the internet so may not be able to log a daily blog message but will do so as soon as I am able.  Cheers.

Hong Han Guest House
238 Bui Vien Street
District 1
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Phone:  (84-8) 38 361 927
Manager:  Anh

Some impressive buildings around HCMC.  Enjoy.

  The Opera House.

  Uncertain (It's called the Vincom Centre but I don't know if that's the 'real' name of the building.)

  Statue of Ho Chi Minh outside the People's Palace (I think).  Please correct me if this is incorrect.

  The sensational local Catholic Church discovered on our local walk this morning.

  Inside the impressive General Post Office.

  The outside view of the GPO.

  Notre Dame Cathedral -- with storm brewing.

  Uncertain but an impressive building.

  Here comes the rain!!

 A very civilised spot to ride out the storm.

  The aftermath of the storm on the local street.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A great read, glad the chaos is starting to make sense.


8:20 am  
Anonymous Ruthie said...

So great to hear of your adventures and bringing back so many memories!! Have a wonderful time in the Mekong Delta - Ruthie xox

4:52 pm  

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