1. Hello everyone! Just to share my good and bad experiences when I was in Hoi Chi Minh City. I travelled with my sister and on the first day, my gold necklace with my wedding ring were snatched by a man on his motorbike just as we were crossing the street. It happened near Independence Palace. The gold necklace was given to me by my mother and the wedding ring has Him Indoors’ name and the date of our wedding engraved to it. I was so shocked that I stood there, not realising what just happened. I shouted but then he was gone, and so was the other man riding next to him. A lot of people came after that, together with some security guards and a police man, but was so hard to communicate with them. I couldn’t speak Vietnamese and they couldn’t speak English. I just wanted to go back to the hotel and ring Him Indoors. After some thought, I’m still grateful that nothing else happened to me.
2. The next day, we had a city tour around Hoi Chi Minh. We met the tour guide and our driver and we told them my experience. They were so sorry about it but couldn’t do anything. First we went to see the Jade Emperor Pagoda. Built in 1909 in honour of the supreme Taoist god (the Jade Emperor or King of Heaven, Ngoc Hoang), this is one of the most spectacularly atmospheric temples in Ho Chi Minh City, stuffed with statues of phantasmal divinities and grotesque heroes. The pungent smoke of incense (huong) fills the air, obscuring the exquisite woodcarvings. Its roof is encrusted with elaborate tile work, and the temple’s statues, depicting characters from both Buddhist and Taoist lore, are made from reinforced papier mâché.
3. Then we stopped for a short time at the Minh Phuong Lacquerware factory. We were presented with a free gift, a welcome fan advertising the business. A short time was spent in an outdoor covered area watching the simple yet time consuming processes involved in lacquerware making, with particular emphasis on the use of egg shells. It is obvious these few workers cannot manufacture everything on display in the extensive, well-illuminated showroom. We spent some time looking at the different products and we bought our souvenirs. My sister bought a lacquered apple shaped décor and I bought a frame of 2 Vietnamese girls in lacquer. Happy with our purchase.
4. For lunch, we had a sumptuous meal in one of their best restaurants in the city. We tried everything! delicious!
5. In the afternoon, we went to the War Remnants Museum. It contains exhibits relating to the Vietnam War and the first Indochina War involving the French colonialists. A great insight to the Vietnam War told from the local viewpoint. My emotions are not easily stirred but I must say that some of the exhibits & photos are very confronting. It is challenging for the mind to think that people were inflicted with such atrocities. There are times, like these, that we find ourselves baffled by the enormous cost of war. We bought some souvenirs from the disabled people in the shop.
6. In the evening, we went for a 2-hour boat tour of Ho Chi Minh City. We cruised around Thanh Da Island for a look at the city’s urban development alongside rural areas and affluent neighbourhoods. This sunset cruise on the Saigon River included dinner accompanied by white wine, draft beer and soft drinks. There was also some musical and cultural entertainment. Such a pleasant evening!