Here at last in our newest new country, Vietnam. So far, so good, though about the first thing that happened to us was to be ripped off by a taxi driver. But the hotel fixed that up and made the guy return the extra cash.
The dong is such a silly currency both in name and value. About one Australian dollar to twenty thousand Vietnamese dong. Sounds like it needs to be revalued.
I woke up in our hotel in Singapore feeling much better about everything. It was so nice to be in a more luxurious hotel, to feel a little bit special.
The buffet breakfast was rather lacking in local specialties, but it did have fruit. Then we crossed over to the local shopping area and Parkway shopping centre. The latter was only just waking up, so we were saved from doing much in the way of shopping. Noticed that it has a decent food centre at the basement for those afraid of the normal Singapore hawker centres.
We certainly weren’t afraid and ordered popiah, a so-so laksa and chicken rice. We bought Alex a little Despicable Me 2 pencil set from on of the small general stores. He was delighted.
Then we raced across, back though the hotel and Roxy Square to the old shophouses behind, to buy kuih from Rumah Bebe.
Then it was race back again, pick up the bags, check out and catch the free minibus back to the airport.
I wish we had longer in Singapore. I could easily hang around the Roxy Mercure and adjacent area and just eat and relax. But no, we were off to Vietnam, a country that I had not done enough research about. The Lonely Planet was open on my phone.
The check in and immigration process at Changi was all very smooth. Alex got delayed at a toy store staring lovingly at Play-doh.
Then it was time to board another Jetstar A320 for our flight to Ho Chi Minh City. The two hour flight was quite packed, but also enjoyable. Again we seemed to have preordered a meal, but the roti paratha with curry was excellent. The views outside were enjoyable too, with the tropical islands of Malaysia making way for ocean and then some magnificent scenery was we entered Vietnam with brown rivers running through broad expanses of paddy fields shimmering in the light.
There were also fascinating views of Ho Chi Minh City as we descended in to land. The tightly packed narrow houses were interesting and as we taxied along there were parked Russian MiL helicopters parked next to American Vietnam war era Iroquois choppers.
The international terminal seemed clean quite functional. We were quickly through immigration and then looking for a taxi to take us to our hotel. Here, the Lonely Planet was obviously outdated as there seemed to be no restrictions on which taxi could pick us up. The one that did promised to use his meter until he worked out where our hotel was a promptly demanded a set price.
I hate taxis.
Anyway, the staff at the Parkroyal sorted it out, and thanks to my loyalty status upgraded us and sent up a delicious orange cheesecake slice.
We couldn’t get the security safe to work, so the maintenance guys replaced the entire safe. The ease at which they did this was a reminded that safes and not always safe. The main maintenance guy liked Alex and returned with some empty balloons for him, which was a lovely gesture.
B was raring to see the sights and we caught another taxi to the Notre Dame cathedral in District 1. The ride itself was interesting, especially watching the crowds of scooters, the tropical decay and embrace of modern development and neon.
Our purpose was mainly just to get a small feel for the place rather than see specific sights. And to get dinner.
We just walked along until we eventually reached Ben Thanh market. The market, which sells mainly clothes, bags, shoes and other accessories was closing for the evening, but we still managed to purchase a couple of items for Alex. Then we wandered around the block until the night market began, scooters delivering the stall fittings.
I noticed many Malaysian restaurants around the area. We were rather disappointed with the lack of street food, eventually ending up at a semi-outdoor stall at the side of the market. There we had wonderful tamarind prawns, delicious spring rolls (both for Alex), steamed snapper, shellfish for B, and noodles.
Alex had had enough and really just wanted to play. I was very sleepy. So we just returned to the hotel after that. In a metered taxi.