So off I flew from Hong Kong into Vietnam, where my first stop was Ho Chi Minh City.
I arrived into the airport after a slight delay to my flight and hopped in an Uber to my hotel, Liberty Central Saigon Riverside.
it was a very nice hotel, and I didn’t even need to take my case upstairs as I checked in, they sent a bell boy up with it!
I was given a room that faced the Mekong River and was on a high floor, so the view was very nice
It was quite late when I arrived, so I basically just went straight to sleep. The next morning I woke up, had some breakfast and headed out to see the city. I started off at the Central Post Office and Notre Dame.
Since Ho Chi Minh was colonised by the French, a lot of the architecture is very European in style, and they even have a replica Notre Dame cathedral, which is a fully working church. Unfortunately, it was closed for renovations when I was there, so I could only see the outside, but I have been to the actual Notre Dame in Paris so it wasn’t too much of a disappointment.
I then went across the street to the Central Post Office, this is done in the style of a grand train station, but it is a working post office (think St Pancras being turned into a post office, although on a slightly smaller scale)
Inside, there are several counters for different postal options, and a big poster of Ho Chi Minh (affectionately called Uncle Ho) looking over the Hall.
My favourite part of the Central Post Office however, is the old style phone booths that they’ve repurposed into ATM booths. I thought it was pretty cool.
After the Post Office, I went off to the Opera House. As I got there, I saw that they had an orchestral concert on that evening, so I went to the ticket office to see if there were any seats left, but it was sold out. They don’t offer a tour of the Opera House, so the only way to see inside is to see a show, and that was the only one on during the time I was there.
It was getting later into the afternoon, and I was getting hungrier, so I went in search of lunch. I ended up at the Ben Tahn Street Food Market, where I had a Bahn Mi. This is where you can see the fusion of Vietnamese and French cuisine. It is a piece of French baguette filled with meat, pickled vegetables and herbs and salad. It was super tasty, and cost me 35K Dong, which is equivalent to roughly a pound.
The street food market itself was pretty cool, with various stalls all situated around two picnic areas with long benches and tables. The walls were decorated with various murals and pictures, and there was music playing and a buzzy vibe.
After lunch, it was late afternoon, and I decided to go back to the hotel for a quick swim before heading out later for dinner.
The hotel had a rooftop pool, so I headed up and got myself a seat overlooking the river. First toe picture of the season here….
After a quick swim and update to the blog, I made my way back to the room to get ready for dinner. I’d read about a street that apparently had really good street food, so I headed off to investigate.
I arrived to the street, and was greeted by various roadside stalls selling all manner of things. I decided to get some ba lot la, which is grilled beef wrapped in betel leaf (a bit like a vine leaf)
i found the stall selling it, and ordered (the Woman didn’t speak any English, I don’t speak any Vietnamese, so it was a case of pointing and putting up fingers to indicate 1 portion) The woman then led me over to a little stool at a metal table on the pavement. I sat down, and a few moments later she came over with a plate of food.
After looking around at the locals eating this dish, I realised the way to eat it was to take some of the rice noodles, the vegetables and herbs, and the leaf wrapped beef and roll them all into a piece of the rice paper and eat like a spring roll. It was delicious, and cost me around 80p! The only thing I couldn’t figure out was how to order a drink, as these seemed to be being delivered to other diners from another stall somewhere, so I just drank from my water bottle.
After dinner, I made my way to the hotel to get some rest before Day Two in Ho Chi Minh, which is to folllow….