Wednesday, September 01, 2010

saigon, vietnam

These are some of the images that caught my eye as I walked through Chi Ben Thanh in Saigon. We bought gifts and just browsed through the fabric aisles, the food aisles, and even all the knick knacks. The wine holder kept calling out to us, but we resisted because we can't carry the damn curvy things!!! bahhhh!!!!

crossing the "circle of death"

banh xeo an la gien

the best iced tea we've ever had

We flew from Hue to Saigon. The minute we landed in Saigon, we knew we were going to love this city. Neon lights, modern buildings, and efficient drivers flock the city. It is the most modern city in Vietnam, and Western influence has really made its name here. KFC is HUGE. I think its hilarious that locals actually want to throw birthday parties at KFC and Pizza Hut!

We taxied into the city and got dropped off in the backpackers area on Pham Ngu Lao St. It was midnight so a lot of the hostels locked their gate for security. We settled on a nicer hotel for the night, knowing we could make up for it the next day. We were so incredibly gross from the excruciating heat of Hue and all the sights so a nice shower could not have been more appreciated.

The next day, I called my friend Helena who lives in the city, went to find a replacement book for or lost Let's Go. In Southeast Asia, you can find Lonely Planets and such guidebooks in any language for less than $5 dollars! I paid almost $30 for my Let's Go in the US! This is because they photocopy each page and sell the copies! All the info and images are still there and it looks like the real binding, but it can easily fall apart. Who cares?! It's 3 bucks for a book that I'm going to throw around in my pack all around the world! (it's actually kept its shape quite well)

We met up with Helena for lunch at Banh Xeo An La Gieng. It's a nicer restaurant but known for its amazing banh xeo. All the banh xeo is still under 2 bucks and we had it with 3 kinds of mushrooms, coconut juice, and fresh watermelon juice. The watermelon juice here is ridiculously good. They take the fruit and just mash it. Nothing added. No syrup nor sugar.

Cho Ben Thanh is the large flea market in Saigon. Anything can be found there. We bought gifts but I won't say what they are! ;) We only got stuff that we could carry for the next month in our backpacks so we bargained and bargained for our precious gifts!

Street food is also ridiculously good. We had xoi ga (sweet rice with chicken), xoi bap (sweet rice with mung bean), Mi (egg noodles with wonton and chili satay), and of course, pho.

Helena convinced us to do cheap hair washes and nails. Since I live in Little Saigon where this is predominantly what Viet women do, we HAD to do it! The shampoo and wash is a ritual for many Viet women, it's their pampering time. (mum does it every week still) The treatment takes an hour approximately and it was a wonderful hour. They massage all your sore neck and shoulder muscles as well!

During our wash, the power went out in our street. In order to make up for the possibility of not being able to blow dry our hair, they offered discounts or longer massages. It was all fun and easygoing, and we had a great time relaxing our sore muscles.

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