Ho Chi Minh City:
Arose early after a late night arrival to get a head start on the heat and explore our first Vietnamese breakfast buffet, which included egg rolls, soup, and spaghetti bolognese. Next, we hit the ATM to get our local currency set before roaming too far from our hotel. Note that we had to go to a few before one worked and there are limits to the amount you can withdraw.
Once in order, we first headed for the historic Central Post Office, designed by Eiffel, to mail some postcards home to family, before popping into the Notre Dame Cathedral next door. Next, we headed east to check out the Saigon Botanical Garden and Zoo, where we discovered a pretty sturdy collection of animals, including monkeys, lions, bears, and crocodiles. I even made friends with an elephant who waved his trunk at me.
After walking around in the heat, we were ready to cool off with a luncheon of Pho and noodles before visiting the Reunification Palace, former home of the South Vietnamese president.
On a side note, I made poor clothing choices today with blister inducing sandals and cheaply made harem pants that starting coming undone at the seams! So, we headed for Ben Thanh market for new pants and shoes. Once changed, we decided it best to grab a taxi back to the hotel to rest before our evening food tour. HILARIOUSLY, as I stepped into the cab, my new, equally cheaply made harem pants, RIPPED!
Embarrassed and tired, I returned to the hotel to quickly nap away the toils of the day. Fortunately, the evening was a much improved experience! Our guide picked us up on motorbikes and whizzed us through the madhouse of Saigon streets to three different restaurants, where we ate sooo (and I mean sooooooooooo) much delicious seafood over 5 hours with a lively group of revelers. Highlights included: squid jerky, snail pate, oyster wasabi challenge, learning Vietnamese curse words, Saigon beer, and camaraderie.
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7:30am Cong Vien Van Hao Park and Riverwalk
8:30am Walk to Central Post Office (Mail a Postcard)
9:30am Notre Dame Cathedral
10:30am Walk to History Museum
12:00pm Walk to Jade Emperor Pagoda
12:30pm Find Lunch During Walk via Le Van Tam Park
1:00pm Reunification Palace
2:00pm War Remnants Museum
3:30pm Walk via Tao Dan Park to Ben Thahn Market
5:00pm Walk to Freshen Up at Hotel
5:30pm Picked Up for Seafood Trail: A Night Eating Adventure
9:30pm Return to Hotel