Indo China – Day 28

Another night train and another bad nights sleep, though at least this sleep was just bad due to the noise and bumps, rather than bugs and fear of derailment, and luckily the mice didn’t mess with us during the night, or at least not that we knew of. The train itself was meant to arrive at 4.30am, but thankfully it was delayed by 45 minutes, so that extra sleep was nice, though not that it felt like it helped as we were all pretty tired.

We loaded up our bags on our backs and walked what felt like half a kilometre to the hotel, so that walk, at 5.30am, and with a bad nights sleep, saw most of us pooped by the time we got to the hotel. Also once again we couldn’t checkin, so we just dropped our big bags, and headed out onto the street as a group, but sadly no beach to hit up this time.

Instead we took a walk around a couple parks where we watched locals partake in their morning rituals of dance, stretching, badminton, dog walking, or just generally sitting around. It was a nice little walk, and I guess helped get rid of some of the early morning tiredness, but at around 7.30am we were getting pretty hungry. We walked a bit further to a restaurant called Koto which was like other charitable restaurants we had attend before where underprivileged kids were given a free education to learn hospitality skills.

The meal was pretty damn good, and recharged us all for the next phase of this walking tour, which then took us to the Ho Chi Minh memorial, and then to the old government buildings. After spending a good hour there, which included a nice rest stop to get out of the heat and get some chilled refreshments, we were out and about again and walking to the old quarter.

By this point though some of us were wilting, as once again lack of sleep, the hot weather, and lots of walking, had combined to an exhausting effect. Once we had made it through the old quarter, Bon stopped us at a water puppet show, where most of the group bought tickets for that nights show, but as Mollidy and myself were going to be spending two more nights in this city in a couple days time, we thought we’d leave the show till then.

Once the tickets were bought, most of the group kept on going with the walk, but again Mollidy and myself, and the other couple on the trip, all decided to head back to the hotel, as Bon said even though checkin was at 12, most likely we could checkin an hour early, and because we were tired, hot, and feeling gross, we decided to take the chance and just head back.

Once back at the hotel we were very glad to be told we could checkin, and we were finally able to wash and just relax in a comfortable environment. After getting fully refreshed, we left the hotel at around 1pm and got a taxi to Vincom Mega Mall which is the largest mall in South East Asia, and was all under ground. It even had an ice skating rink and a water theme park as part of it, all of which was again under ground.

The entrance was really strange to look at, as the only thing to make you aware that something even existed was this large arch. Once walking into this arch you see a set of escalators which take you into the bowels of the earth and into this massive behemoth of a mall. The first floor was filled with lots of high end clothing stores, and the second floor more home furnishings, and it was pretty damn impressive and simply massive, but as we walked further, and on both the levels, we started to notice that when it came to the food areas, it was a different story.

The mall had been open for just over a year, and we were told it had been very busy to begin with, but the countries economy had taken a hit, and even though the shopping areas of the mall were close to being 100% occupied, the food areas were lucky to be at 40%. It was actually really sad walking through all these empty corridors where food shops used to be, and the ones that were open were very quiet and they had people outside asking us to come in and eat. All felt a little odd.

We did finally pick a place, and it was pretty good, and we got the feeling we may have been the only customers they had that day. After that we walked deeper into the mall and found the cinema, as we normally see 1-2 films a week back home and hadn’t seen one for 4 weeks, so we were very much in the mood for one, and so got our very cheap tickets for Guardians Of The Galaxy, which was pretty damn cool.

It was around 5.30pm once we were out, so we caught a taxi back to the hotel, and just relaxed for the rest of the evening, and had left over pizza from lunch for our dinner, and caught up with some writing and internet type stuff, and then by 10pm it was off to the land of dreams, as in the morning we were heading off once again, and this time for Harlong Bay.

Today I want to talk about taxis. The only place we’ve really had an issue with them was in Bangkok, but every where else metered taxis are easy to get, and they are so damn cheap. One example we had was a trip that cost us about $5, which back home would have easily cost 4 to 6 times that. So take advantage of the cheap transport, but always keep your whits about you and use the good companies, as there are still dodgy companies and people out there looking to rip you off.

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