A day in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Our Hotel is off the beaten path

It was Brads last day in Vietnam and I decided to show him a good time in Saigon as I know much more about the city now. We started by spending the morning in the police station trying to get a report done. (a good time huh?) The police were very reluctant and slow to help me. I understand how it works. I saw multiple officers, but not the boss. They all insisted that I bring the hotel reception to the police station. They do this because the receptionist will slip them a small amount of money to speed up the process. Well too bad!! I so far have been able to avoid feeding corruption here and I am holding my guns. It took all morning to get a witness statement to them after a little bit of a run around. Finally I return with the required

Hey Brad!! Wait for me

 papers and I get the same queries… Where is the receptionist? I tell them in Vietnamese that my reception does not speak English. This just seems to irritate them and I continue the game. I have delivered the required documents and now they are placed on a table to be ignored……. No problem… I sit and wait. They have lunch delivered and to their discomfort, they dine while I patiently sit and watch. After finishing lunch and trying to wait me out, the policeman finally had enough of me sitting there and had me sign the document. He then told me I would have to return tomorrow to pick up the stamped paper. Well…. We will se what

A coconut barge

happens tomorrow. I will sit for a while and wait for my papers. I will be patient. If there is a demand for payment (not likely) or they try to give me the run around, I will try to trump them about giving my sister in the federal government a call to perhaps help them move things along. I am sure that will speed them up, but for now, I will play the game. Anyway……We went to the Ben Thanh market to purchase a few things. We haggled a bit and bought a few items. Brad is happy about the purchases he has made and so am I. Saigon is a great place to shop. As we were walking back to our hotel, my friend Tang saw me from across the street. We talked with him a bit and then told him we would return in a couple of hours and we would go somewhere together. After a shower and relaxing a bit we joined up with Tang. We went to a small market near the city zoo that probably had never seen

Many swallow nests on this old building

 westerners before. As we walked along, Brad commented on how strange the looks we got were, but he enjoyed it. I have experienced those looks many times in the past. A westerner deep in local areas will always draw them. We wound our way through narrow streets and alleys. We ended up spending a little time in a house with a woman that looks remarkably like Jabba the Hut. It was very entertaining. An experience that few westerners will ever have in Vietnam unless you live here.. We spent a couple of hours interacting with the locals before returning to the tourist area. It was a good time. Tang had to go home to his daughters, so we said goodbye and promised him that we would get back together next time in town. Tang is a good man and a great person to get together with.

For the remainder of my time I will have to stick to a strict budget. I have no way of getting any money if I lose what I have left. Damn those lady boys. I do not care that they got a couple of bucks, but it is a very big inconvenience

A small neighborhood in Saigon

not having my bank cards. I just got back from the police station. Mission accomplished. I was able to complete the process without any bribes. Hah!! Take that. My hotel receptionist was very happy that I was able to complete the papers on my own as it would have cost her some money. Brad I now on his way home and I have a final day in Saigon before returning to NhaTrang tomorrow. The mission of the day is to hunt down a place where I can purchase multi vitamins. You would think this an easy task, but so far I have had no luck. Well, I guess its back to my knowledgeable cyclo drivers to steer me in the right direction. Since I have the day free, I will try to travel most of the places by foot. The 34 degree weather gets me all sweaty, but it is not too hot to deal with.

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Owee

Tour designer and Guide specializing in off the beaten track tours of Vietnam

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