Vietnam 2014 - Day 4

                                                      March 01, 2014:  Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam    95 - Sunny

                                                                       Journey Day    01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 HOME 

                                                    Sai Gon Transit Day.  Flight day started with hotel breakfast – Chinese breakfast at the hotel restaurant.  (Could 
                                                    select American, Japanese, or English, too).  However, none could match the tray of Chinese epicurean delights – 
                                                    from a push pot of special blend tea, stacks of dim sum, fried noodles, very fresh fruit, and almond milk chicken 
                                                    soup (with a segmented tray of extra ingredients).  All was finished with a deep fried rolled donut.
                                                    Next, down the steps to the metro system – reverse engineered the inbound route with multi exchange points
                                                    (most were perfectly timed with the train awaiting passengers.)  Interestingly, while standing, could see all the way
                                                   to the rear and front of the train in a very full train.   You figure it out.

                                                    Once at the airport, you realize that you’re not in Kansas anymore.  The cross section of humanity was simply
                                                    amazing.  More amazing was the empty line at Vietnam Airlines check in.  Our trainee agent assigned us the “last
                                                    two seats on the bus”; which, on an Air Bus 320 is just two seats – aisle and window.  And since a bus is used to
                                                   transport to a remote parking area and the rear door is used, it was like backwards bulkhead to quick entry and exit.

                                                    Being outside the States means real meals are served on all flights – so, the 2 hour flight included a full meal and
                                                    no charge wine and beer.  Now, the beer was really domestic since absolutely no other language, including
                                                   English was used on the can.

                                                    One of the formal dress for women, including Vietnamese flight attendents, is the long tunic with pants.  For most,
                                                    there is a small “trianble” of skin on the sides were the tunic slit ended.  This could be the ultimate “field day” for
                                                    someone with massive tickling challenges. 

                                                    Flight arrived at the ex-military American base now fully commercialized airport – ad space with “if interested”
                                                    phone number was on everything.  Most all of the airport was new and very open.  Passport control took some
                                                   time; however, all passport and visa prep work was correctly done.

                                                    We’re Millionaires now! The exchange rate is 2,100 Vietnamese Dong currencty to 1 U.S. Dollar.  So, at the ATM
                                                    requesting 6,000,000 Dong was a little intimidating.   Applied the “measure twice and cut once” model with one
                                                   more recalculation and requested the six million Dong.

                                                    Next to the ATM is the Taxi booth – paid 220,000 Dong for a coupon that includes the destitination.  System
                                                   worked extremely well – walked outside to taxi stand, handed coupon to attendant, and off to the hotel.

                                                    The term “organized chaos” has a new meaning – Vietnamese roads!  It you have have an aversion to not stopping,
                                                    walking across streets when you want, and generally like to ‘tail gate’ on all sides, this is the place for you.  Words
                                                    cannot describe this orchestrated event of 80% motorcycles, large buses, and upscale cars all vieing for the small
                                                    space on the road.  Honking was not a warning – more of a “hi, how are you doing?, just letting you know I’m
                                                   just 2 inches from you”.

                                                    Traffic circles with motorcycles not becoming hood ornaments or sidecars may demonstrate the “big bang theory”.  
                                                    Most amazing of all this syncranzied flow is none of the new, clean, mostly upscale cars had no scratches or dings
                                                   of any kind.    Watching a Bentley “go upstream” against a tidal wave of motorcycles is ‘reality TV’ is action.

                                                    Arrived at the Renaissance Riverside (next to the Saigon river) intact and ready to breathe again.  Followed a
                                                    group check in and was checked in with upgrade to Club Floor (18th floor) with view of atrium and all day access
                                                   to Club room (evenings included full buffet of dinner, drinks, and desserts).   

                                                    Time for a quick night walk around the heart of the city in District 1 – main sights with a very alive and colorful
                                                    backdrop.  If you need to use the phrase “The town that never sleeps”, forget New York, it’s Sai Gon!    We can
                                                    imagine that all were outside enjoying the cool breezes.  “That was the ticket” to finish the day.


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