30 June 2009

CYCLING VIETNAM - Svay Rieng to Saigon

26 June 2009
Cu Chi to Saigon

With over 3 million motorcycles in Saigon, I have never in my life seen so many motorcycles! Saigon is a vast sprawling area, spreading nearly all the way from the Cambodian border to the South China Sea. Needless to say it was a short but stressful ride. Once in the city centre it was still the task of finding accommodation. There were hundreds of hotels, but finding a specific one was quite a task.

We took a walk to the market to stock up with the normal essentials. Ernest bought some new underwear/pajamas at a road stall, thank goodness for that (and not just any old shorts, but Kalvin Klein – the price seems to suggest it may be a reject, so we’ll have to see if it lasts).

Saigon is a modern buzzing city were one can find tall slick skyscrapers next to ramshackle eateries and motorbike repair shops. The strange thing is also that everyone refers to the city by its old name Saigon instead of T.P. Ho Chi Ming city, but the only one’s who refer to it by it’s proper name seems to be the officaldom.

25th June 2009
Svay Rieng Cambodia to Cu Chi Vietnam

Under scores of “Hellos” we left Cambodia and entered Vietnam. The border crossing was as smooth as anyone can wish for (of course, we already had visa’s). It was well organized and it was just a case of showing your passport, getting it stamped, and walking through.

Once on the road we immediately experienced more traffic. The road was in good condition but extremely busy. Once we reached Cu Chi we decided to find a room and check out our new environment a bit, change money, and check on prices. The local currency is Dong and equates to 17 or 18 thousand dong to one US Doller. So going to the bank leaves you coming out with a bag full of money (not really, one note may be for 100 000 Dong).

The idea of first going to visit the Cu Chi tunnels went out the window as it didn’t look as exciting as I’d initially thought

I could soon tell that the language was going to be a huge problem here. We tried a local restaurant down the road, but with the menu was only in Vietnamese, it was a huge task. It ended up with the restaurant owner phoning a friend who could speak a little English - still we did not manage to get simple meal like fried rice with vegetables (we got shrimp rice, but I was so hungry I guzzled my fair share, vegatarian or not).

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