The most uncomfortable ride of this whole adventure was the six hour sleeping bus from Da Lat to Saigon where I was in the front on the top row in the middle of the bus and it felt like a roller coaster. On the other buses I'd been able to pick my seat. Since this seat was assigned, I was outta luck. The bus was meant to be a seven hour trip, leaving at 2300 and arriving at 0600. Instead it departed at 2300 and arrived at 0430. Danielle and I were both bleary eyed, but managed to get a taxi to our hostel. We had a booking but it was obviously too early to check in. We dropped our bags and drug around Sai Gon until twelve. I say drug in the literal sense. We were literal zombies. I remember seeing the postal building, the opera house, the outside of some buildings and memorials.
|The postal building is very pretty inside. Several things in Sai Gon looked like they fell straight out of France.|
|Like Notre Dame Cathedral. That's it's name. Just like in Paris.|
I acknowledge (esp to Coco who loves Sai Gon) that this may have had an impact on my impression of Sai Gon. I've heard many people claim that you are either a Ha Noi person or a Sai Gon person, but also that it seems to make a difference if you start in the north or the south. I contend I am definitely a Ha Noi person. I loved the smaller town with it's center wrapped around the northern end of the lake. Sai Gon in comparison has a "big city" feel. It's geographically and by population much larger than Ha Noi. It was harder to meet people there, though I still did. The hostels were nothing special (where the one in Ha Noi was amazing). I think the cards ended up hard against Sai Gon.
During our drag around town, we went into a botanical gardens and zoo. Now, you regular readers will know how I feel about zoos. I didn't mean to go to this one. I thought it was two distinct entities - a zoo and a garden. We started out alright with a temple, then a fountain and garden. Without realizing it we traipsed through an aviary and smack into the zoo. I whined and cringed through until back to back seeing an elephant on a 20 ft chain with no water in his swimming pool even thought it was very hot, and immediately after seeing a flooded deer enclosure. Their paddock was right next to the river and water was seeping in. There were no trees, no dirt, only mud. I have seen wild deer. There are deer native to the Pacific Northwest (of the USA). They do not live out in the open in the mud. I drew the line and had to go. I'll reiterate, I'm off zoos.
|With the door in place it was impossible to see there was a tunnel at all.|
|This was an entry to the upper level of tunnels. It was about two and a half feet high inside.|