A typical side trip to Saigon

The famous Saigon rats nest cables are being cut down

I am sitting in a budget hotel in Saigon trying to collect my reeling thoughts after a day of unexpected events, but then, I am sure I have mentioned before that things do not always go as planned in Vietnam.

It all started with me having to make a trip to Saigon to get a legal document to settle some business with property. The plan was a simple one….. Rent a motorcycle, drop in on Hau and put the finishing touches on a tour I am planning, pick up the legal documents, and then perhaps do a little shopping for a new cell and visit with friends.

I took a night bus from Nha Trang that would have been total hell if not for my little magic sleeping pill, but even then, it was a bad ride. The bus took me to an area far away from district 1 and at 5 am, I was at a bit of a loss where to go. Thankfully, I have experience here and I just wandered around and soaked all of the confusion in until it started to make sense. In the end I was able to catch the 26 bus for a long ride to downtown. Aha!! First problem solved. I decided on this trip to stay in one of the lowest budget hotels I could find with a reasonable reputation. The room was not ready at the small hours so off I went on my rented Yamaha to Hau and Nghia’s office to iron out some details on the trip we have planned. We sat at a table and were working on the plan when Nghia made the decision that Hau and I should be part of a birthday dinner for a friend. I did not have the clothes and respectfully declined, but a phone call later, all was settled and I was going to attend. OK….

Hau was given the morning off and he escorted me on the long drive to the Go Vap area of Saigon. We stopped for a drink in Hau’s house before heading off to lunch with his beautiful wife and daughter. The rest of the morning was ended by finishing the business I had come to Saigon for, a little cell phone shopping, and a stop to purchase long pants. I bid a see you later to Hau and returned to my hotel dodging the returned mayhem of sex and drug offers. A nap later and the fun began.

Hau met me at the hotel and parked his motorcycle as we waited for Nghia to pick us up in his Lexus. To my pleasant surprise, Phi was in the car (I met him on my last adventure in Saigon) and we all headed to District 7 to a new neighborhood

A toast with Joseph

where the houses were spectacular by Vietnamese standards. The house was beautiful and has to be the richest I have seen in Vietnam so far. The entertainment room wall was almost built of Johnny Walker Blue and 25 year old scotch bottles. The event was a birthday party for Joseph by his sister (Sorry I cannot recall your name). It had to be the best meal I have had since coming to Vietnam…….. and I have had a lot of good meals! The appetizers were steamed shrimp and deep fried soft bodied crabs. The crabs were new to me and are now one of my most favorite foods in Vietnam. (I have finally after many years consumed everything in the crab,,,, guts and all). It was followed up by chicken, clams, more clams, and an excellent sticky rice with duck egg.. Wow!! Sated, it was getting on to 10 pm and time to go, but wait…….. Nghia has a VIP pass to some night spot with entertainment. Nghia and his wife, Joseph, Phi and I had a front row table where an excellent live rock band was playing. For the first time in Vietnam, I was ignored by the PR

Another big meal

 girls. I think that they may have been waved off by Nghia, and I was happy just to listen to music instead of spar with beautiful young woman for a change.  All of the music was “chick tunes” and we were serenaded by some very talented women with very fine moves to excellent renditions of popular female rock from North America. The five of us were enjoying the free bottle of scotch when the finale came and 4 beautiful women came onto stage to perform. They belted out songs that made a persons backbone quiver. There was intensity to the singing and the gyrating of the leather hot pant clad girls had Joseph mesmerized like a cobra to a flute. Happy birthday Joseph!

I am still sitting in the same hotel the next night. I met up with my friend and spent the day just walking around. The calm in Saigon was short lived and it is back to its former glory with the offer of drugs and sex on every corner. I spent much of the day just wandering around the hot streets and checking out budget hotels for future visits and for places to refer guests to.

The last day was going to be quiet and a simple but as usual…. Things change. The phone rang and it was Nghia telling me to jump in jump in a taxi and meet him for lunch. OK!! I ended up at another person’s party and the food and booze was flowing. As is so common when visiting with Hau and Nghia, I had way too much to eat. Walking it off was what I decided. I surprised myself by walking all the way to the airport for my flight home. I can tell people it is a 4 hour walk  from District 1 to the airport.

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

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