Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Miss Saigon

The Cambodian name for Ho Chi Minh still used by Khmers living in Vietnam...

I have now returned from 2 days in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City.

The weekend began with what can be described as a bus journey from hell. The trip to Vietnam was prompted by a national holiday - A holiday where most people in PP go back to their home province. So first, getting out of the city was a nightmare. We had to go over Monivong bridge to get to the National Highway and it was packed. We were not even out of the city and the bus conductor (or operator/drivers helper) was already saying to expect to wait an hour on the bridge. About 20 minutes later we were on the "road". Roads in Cambodia are not the greatest (unless the Japanese or some other nation has funded them).... Travelling through the provinces of Kandal, Prey Veng and Svay Rieng the city changed to green rice fields swollen with floods and surrounded by the living areas of some of the poorest people in the world.

We made good progress and then the Mekong got in our way. Usually 2 ferries transport the traffic with little waiting time required. However, when we arrived our bus was about 800th in the queue - No exaggeration (I counted). Shared taxis, cars packed to bursting level waiting...and motorbikes zooming to the front. 8 painful hours later we were at the front of the queue - On we got to the tiny ferry and made the 5 minute journey across the Mekong.... we were on our way .... just very very late! Only another 4 hours to Ho Chi Minh!! More awful movies followed and more terrible Khmer karaoke. [On the way back the same road that lasted for 8 hour wait took 60 seconds - agh!]

Here is evidence of the time we got onto the ferry and a packed shared minibus taxi..

In the pitch black darkness we travelled. We had our lights on but Cambodians do not like to travel with their headlights on at night as it is believed it attracts ghosts. Not the greatest idea.
Sleep was required. Lots of it.

Here is a collection of pictures from the next 2 days adventures....

Coned hats and busy China town street

The reunification palace and surrounds - inc. me with tank!

Ho and me

China town

Lots of weddings to gate crash on... One was at a museum - about 5 brides and grooms all waiting to have their pictures taken with a car and various bits of old Vietnam. At the botanical gardens there was a couple in traditional wedding dress.

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