Home is wherever I’m with you

As we woke up it felt a bit sad to have our last breakfast in Vietnam, but we would on the other hand soon be able to cuddle with Java. We checked out, and headed towards French Quarters this time to hopefully see some nice architecture while doing the last minute (hours really) shopping. To be honest the architecture wasn’t that impressive, a lot of things have been badly managed and old buildings were deteriorating in a depressingly fast manner, Hoi An beats Hanoi any day when it comes to architecture.

We stopped by a French surrealist exhibition which was quite nice, as well as countless galleries with local artists. After a few hours of shopping and browsing art it was however time to say goodbye. We decided we would take the offer of 15USD and have the ride to the airport arranged by our hotel rather than taking a regular cab. Unfortunately Mona’s scarf she had managed to not loose during the whole trip was left behind but all in all nothing worse than that.

We had our second breakfast at Heathrow while waiting for our last leg, and were less tired than expected since we got a few hours of sleep on the flight from Hong Kong. As we arrived in Göteborg we were almost surprised that all luggage had gotten there as well. Then a fast, silent and expensive taxi ride later we met a very happy Java in our home. After unpacking we thought we would go to IKEA and pick up parts for the upcoming kitchen renovation – it was the last day in some campaign so it would probably not be many people there, right? In the end it went surprisingly good and we managed to stay up until almost 22 before falling asleep in our own bed. Over and out for this time!

Police on the scene, if you know what I mean

As Mona woke surprisingly early we headed out for a morning walk to catch breakfast our last morning in Saigon. We found the cafe that Mona had read about, or as it turned out, the lady selling cheap coffee from a wagon, but after seeing the Saigon River we ended up circling back to our hotel in order to secure some breakfast (yoghurts are hard to come by). Then we packed and checked out – this time leaving nothing behind.

20120318-183802.jpgWe had a smooth taxi ride to the airport but a little longer security, guess who were informed that of course I should remove camera lenses from my bag when the sign states laptops? That I had walked through four domestic security controls previously with the lenses until now was not appreciated as a response. A change from our previous flights was that they used a Boeing 777 instead of the smaller propeller planes we used earlier. After two hours of playing Civilization on the iPad we landed in a 16 degree warm Hanoi which felt rather cold.

The taxi driver tried to rip us off a bit, I showed him the GPS tracked path he’d driven which clearly depicted a detour of six kilometers and paid him what it should have costed instead. He grunted but didn’t try to argue more than that. We dumped our stuff in the very same room we had last time and strolled around in Old Quarters again. For dinner we settled for some BBQ on the street (half the price compared to the place next doors but with limited English skills).

After stopping by our hotel to get some warmer clothes we sat down to enjoy the famously cheap fresh beer in the street corners. As we were drinking and looking at locals I saw that suddenly the peddlers on the opposite street gathered their wares in a very hurried manner and told Mona that something was probably about to happen. Seconds later it became clear what had scared them off, a truck stopped in the middle of the crossing and out jumped a dozen uniformed gentlemen with sour looks. Now everybody seemed to get in a real rush and the patrons started to move and the owner of the establishment started yelling out instructions. I decided this was our cue, told Mona we would leave and walked off in the direction lacking incoming police officers. As I turned around I however saw Mona being very helpful and assisting the owner by re-arranging chairs, I quickly convinced her that perhaps we ought to leave before we were questioned rather than getting involved.

We managed to leave, and most likely the owner just had to cough up some bribes but we headed towards another beer shop rather than returning. Great places these shops, they sell nice beers for around 1 SEK but they do not seem to have bathrooms so we we’re alternating between drinking and using our hotel’s facilities a few times before calling it a day.20120318-183811.jpg

Run to the tunnels, run for your life

20120317-082048.jpgWe woke up early around 0700, and managed to eat a big breakfast before getting picked up by the tour agency for our trip to the Cu Chi tunnels. After changing bus twice and a mere 45 minutes we started to leave central Saigon. Just as we had read in advance there was the mandatory stop at some shop where disabled workers sold various handicrafts. I liked an antique amphora which depicted Papa Smurf but thought it would be too much of a hassle to get it home in one piece.

The tour where pretty much as we expected after reading up about the trip the night before. It started with a healthy propaganda movie,20120317-082056.jpg followed up by galleries of weapons used (handmade traps as well as actual rifles) and before the actual tunnels there was a stop at a cafeteria which had a shooting range conveniently placed next to it. Rather few from our bus were interested in shooting so the break was only fifteen minutes or so. The actual tunnels were not that long, perhaps it took 15 minutes to go through but I still found it quite fun – perhaps not ideal for people who feel uncomfortable in cramped areas or are of bigger stature though. All in all a fun, although rather touristy tour – I dozed off on the way back to Saigon which made the return trip considerably shorter.

20120317-082103.jpgWe decided that for dinner we would try out a nearby Japanese pizzeria, Pizza 4Ps, that according to Trip advisor was really something special. As we got there it turned out others also thought so and the place was occupied for a private event – we instead went to Hoa Tuc which ranked rather high as well but served local Vietnamese food. We had Sea Bass with mango/avocado salsa which tasted really nice. Well stuffed we headed home after our last night in Saigon.