Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Cruise Day 9 - Saigon

The day didn't start out too nicely as a lady stepped backwards into me causing my cup of coffee to spill all over the front of my clothes, and burn my hand. As Saigon was around 90 minutes drive from where the ship docked we had decided to sign up for a tour, and were taken by a coach. Our guide spoke very clear English and was very knowledgeable. The countryside looked completely waterlogged.

First stop was the 'Palace' which was a Presidential building, but built in the 1960's so not really palatial.

Palace Gates
Next was the museum. Unfortunately, we didn't have anywhere near the amount of time there as we would have liked, and we weren't supposed to take photos unless we bought an extra pass, but I managed to snap a few surreptitiously.

A highlight was the Water Puppet Show. Five puppeteers manipulated sticks with puppets attached.

The Puppeteers

We drove past the American Consulate (where you weren't supposed to take photos, and the guards had sub-machine guns), Cathedral (nearby was the building where the last helicopter evacuated people in 1975),

Helicopter evacuation(1975)

Touts were everywhere harrassing us, but our guide said to just completely ignore them and it certainly wasn't as bad as the previous day.

Lunch was a spectacular buffet with a traditional Vietnamese entertainment.

Next we were taken to a traditional Taoist Chinese Temple which had very ornate figurines on the roofline, and a water feature which had the Monkey King story in little figurines, and large catfish of some sort in the pond.

Next we were taken to a lacquer factory and outlet. The products were certainly beautiful, and it seemed that some people were spending a lot of money.

While we were waiting for the bus to leave, Darryl purchased 2 laquered jewel boxes for NZ$10.00 (US$3.50). The seller was happy at first but seemed to want extra money shortly after talking to another seller. Darryl considered it a good deal for both seller and buyer as jewel boxes were being offered elsewhere for US$3.00.

Just as we started to drive back to the ship it started really pelting down rain, but luckily seemed to ease off just as we got to port.

At dinner, we found out about how another pedicab driver stole money directly out of the purse of an experienced traveller as she was reaching inside her purse to pay for the ride.

The lecturer warned us that we were mobile ATMs to them.

Final helicopter evacuation from fall of Saigon

April 29 1975 final evacuation

How many people can you fit on a scooter? At least 3 of them have helmets!

Ducks anyone?

After dinner we went to see the magician again. He was quite good, but not as good as seeing him the first time.

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