Our flight to Vietnam left an hour late, getting us in a little after 2:00 AM. By the time we went through immigration, got our bags and met our guide, Kit, and our group then drove the short haul to the hotel, it was 3:30. Since there was no shower in the China Eastern lounge, we looked forward to one in our hotel. The room was very nice and comfortable. A hot shower helped immensely and a lovely sleep to come. Fortunately, we didn’t have to get started the next day until 10:00 AM.
Next morning, it was time to get organized and head downstairs for our first meal. Breakfast at the hotel is amazing, with many options, including American food, soups, a wide variety of juices, coffees, teas, pastries, fruits, and sushi. There was no lack of choices. We sat with people in our group, starting to get acquainted.
At the appointed time, we were off on the bus with the sixteen others in our group. Our first destination was the Cu Chi Tunnels. Located about an hour and a half from town, the tunnels were built to thwart the US soldiers. The entrances are hidden under leaves and some are the size of a laptop footprint. You definitely can’t be a big person to enter and the tunnels themselves accommodate people bent over to get through. Just in case the enemy did get through, there were booby traps, with pointed bamboo spikes. It could have been a very unwelcome visit.
The Vietcong were ingenious in the tunnel design. There were meeting rooms, kitchens, storage for guns and bunkers to shoot intruders. I went into one tunnel to see what it was like and you must be agile and definitely not claustrophobic. There were remnants of the war, with damaged tanks and armaments that were re-purposed into other needs.
Our next stop was lunch, at a charming restaurant by a water lily-filled stream. This restaurant caters to large bus groups, but we had two separate palapa-like areas to enjoy the many courses of local food. Egg rolls, pork salad with shrimp, catfish with rice crackers, sticky rice, water spinach with garlic and a banana for dessert. It was all yummy.
A drive back to Saigon for our city tour of the important landmarks and a short walking tour of the local market. It was reminiscent of markets in China, Morocco, and even Mexico. Lots of knock-off designer handbags, different coffees and teas, clothing, and chatchkes of every sort. There is no reason to buy anything now and take it with us for the next ten days, so I will just wait to buy before leaving Vietnam. Cambodia may offer some different items to bring back.
Time to return to the hotel for a short rest, then a light supper. Mine was a carrot coconut soup and Jim’s a traditional pho chicken noodle soup. By 8:30 PM, we were in bed, ready for a nice sleep.
So far, I am unable to add my pictures to the blog. Hopefully, I can figure this out soon. However, if not, then I will add them once I am home.