Sunday, 18 September 2011

Seriously Saigon

Sunday September 18, 2011; 19:45
Location: Saigon Vietnam,
Why: My tunnel is smaller than your tunnel.

I am currently sitting inside the most ballin' house ever in Dong Nai, a province just 70km east of Saigon. The epicness of meeting relatives for the first time in the motherland is, well, pretty epic.

But that's another post.

Saigon. Wow, where do I start in this amazing part of Vietnam? After a week of paradise in the land of Jungle Beach, it was a total culture shock to re-enter the "outside" world that is Saigon. Re-learning how to cross the mean streets without losing my one lifeline pumped some quick beats on the left side of my chest.

Try crossing this bad boy on a weekday at 4:30pm, I dare you:

Cecco and I climbed into the sub air conditioned temperature berth for a 7+ hr train ride that was already behind schedule. T.I.V. ***sigh***

That's "This Is Vietnam" in case anyone was wondering.

I awoke to an alarming amount of bed bug bites scattered throughout my tired self. Effing bed bugs. **waves fists in air***

The madness outside the train station made me think, Seriously, Saigon? After being passed over again and again to the locals, Cecco and I finally got into a taxi which brought us to Madame Cuc Hotel.

No, it is not a brothel.

The rooms were HUGE, clean, had A/C, breakfast, dinner and wifi.

But alas, at $18/night, it is not professional for this Professional Full Time Traveler to be dishing out this kind of dough to lay one's head at night. Sorry but thanks for the recommendation Nico from Germany.

So the next day, it was off to the Saigon Backpackers Hostel instead. Cecco stayed. He's a Part Time Freelance Traveler so it's in his budget. Anyway, at $8/night, brekkie, A/C, wifi, TV, 4 dorm rooms and the COOLEST wall paper you ever saw, I scooted over there and met up with my cute Latino friend whom I met in Hoi An.
Coolest wallpaper EVER:

Cecco did his obligatory touristy thang that is the Mekong Delta. This of course was done after his usual ungodly early morning 10km run that makes me look at my trainers and hang my head in shame. We collected with Arnau later and met up with his Viet Kieu friend Lee (see chick in dress below) for some live music shenanigans at Yoko.

Jumpasana - Shirley, you would be proud. Cecco is so tall (6'4") that he lost his head in this pic. Arnau lost his eyes. I'm just short:

Cecco is going to help me find a young Italian lover half my age for when I retire in Tuscany. Thanks Cecco! Please make sure, he also loves his nonna a lot! And can play the guitar. And is a clean, hippie artist who has a day job. And can cook amazing pasta. And. And. And.

Geez, I got brown at Jungle Beach:

Did I mention in my last post the FANTASTIC peeps I met at JB? Well, a few days later, two of those superstars, Tracy and Marian joined us. As the JB Musketeers, we rented a taxi out to the Cu Chi tunnels to experience what it was like to be a Viet Cong tunnel rat. Us four lucky bastards got pretty much a private tour with our guide Son. Going with an official tour is not always the best choice and karma works in wonderful ways.

So for a couple of hours, Son guided us on the amazing story of the town of Cu Chi and it's famous tunnels. These tunnels were originally built by the Viet Minh in the first Indochina war against the French in the 40s. Afterwards, the Viet Cong used them in the war against America. These tunnels stretched to 250km at it's height and was an elaborate three level underground system for fighting. And we all know who won that war.

Now, I'm a pretty small person, but....this was ridiculous:

And just to give perspective how small this opening was. I think Tracy stopped breathing for a moment down there:

After oohhing, aahhing and holy shitting (not literally), we actually ventured into these tunnels for a creepy, claustrophobic crawl. We entered as a unit of four and came out a unit of two.

The other two fell down a trap.

Just kidding. Cecco really was just too tall to crawl into that damn tunnel. It's usually the fat people who bail. But Cecco is not fat (at all), he's just 6'4" And Marian, well, her knees just weren't built for that kind of darkness.

Tracy and I braved on stopping to take photos along the way. Thanks T!

Tracy and Cecco were also superstars assaulting pictures of animals in the distance at the shooting range; with all the fierceness only these two know.

In this stance, that tiger in the picture over there didn't stand a chance:

And if there was a female Ramboo, this Irish/Kiwi/Soon-to-be-Canadian chick would be it, hands down:

Cu Chi, while touristy especially if you go with a tour, is still an amazing thing to do in Saigon. Get there as a party of four via taxi and make sure you get Son as your guide. Oh and make sure you give him a lil VND for making your tour so damned cool. He has a son and wife and has to put up with us foreigners every single day.

In the 36 years since Saigon fell and became Ho Chi Minh City, it is a place that is fast becoming a major player in every aspect. From business to fashion to tourism to culinary epicness.

If you get the opportunity, come to Saigon. Seriously.


  1. Ahh Saigon! We had such a great time in this crazy city! I'm glad you did too... And the Cu Chi Tunnels, so much fun!! Loved crawling through the pitch black, imagining how it must have been to have done the same trek with a pack and a rifle in hand, explosions rocking the earth only metres above your head, knowing you were going 'home' to sleep... Wow.

    Loving the blog Davie, keep writing, and enjoying your trip!

  2. thanks for reading Dan! i heard the pics didn't show up so I've re-uploaded them.