Its another bumpy ride to the border. On the way we stop to catch a ferry across the river. The bus is surrounded by people trying to sell us everything from sunglasses to bread and even snakes!!
Again, once over the border, we notice a marked difference... aerials stretched up from every house.
After another 7 hours or so we reached Ho Chi Minh City. It was my turn to hunt through the guest houses for somewhere to stay... a hot, sticky and frustrating business, but eventually we found somewhere to stay. The Internet here is ridiculously cheap... which is a definate bonus!
The next day we check out the city. The thing that first strikes me about Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon as it is also known) is the amount of Communist Propoganda that is everywhere. There is no mistaking it's political leanings, or it's total love of Uncle Ho.
We head to the Botanical Gardens which houses a very sorry looking zoo, and then go to the Independence Palace. Time for another history lesson, and getting my head around the Vietnam War - or The American War as it's known here.
The Independence Palace was built in the 60's and the architecture and furniture confirm this! We finish our history lesson at the excellent War Remnants Museum. It's recently been redone and was fascinating, although totally sobering.
The first room was photos from foreign journalists who had died in the course of their jobs. A second larger room, had details of the American attack - the effects of Agent Orange and the Massacre of Son My. There were reconstructions of the "Tiger Cage" cells that communist Prisoners of War were kept in. It certainly put the whole war into perspective, and has set us up for our visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels tomorrow.
We set off the following morning to the Cu Chi Tunnels. This is where the Vietcong Guerrillas hid, coming out to fight against the Americans. At some times people may had had to stay in the tunnel for up to a week.
We get the chance to go in one of the original openings. As you can see it's tiny - my hips get stuck on the way out. We also get the chance to go through a 100m stretch of tunnel.
The original tunnel would have been 0.6m wide by 0.8 m tall, but they've been widened for tourists to 0.8m wide and 1.2m tall. This is still tiny. Of this 100m stretch there are 3 possible exits; the first is after 40m and most people exited here. It's hot, very dark and even those of us who don't usually suffer from clostrophopibia are finding it a bit tough. Sam and I press on, and Sam leaves at teh second exit, but only as the tunnel gets even smaller then, I head on alone, on hands and knees and frighten off a few bats ahead of me in the process. I emerge gratefully from teh 100m stretch, dripping in sweat. How people could stay in here for any length of time is beyond me.
Back in the city, we check yet another museum, and then indulge ourselves in what has become somewhat of an obsession in SE Asia - watching the traffic. I know it's sad, but I am a self confessed Scooter Spotter and I'm not in any hurry to get cured.
We've seen pretty much everything you can imagine on the back of a scooter - who needs to hire a van to move house - bung it on the back of my moped! The top spots so far were tons of boxes, and the most people was a five. Today we spot our first 6!!! 2 Adults adn 4 children, but unfortunately don't get a photo of it.
That settles it and we spend the next 2 hours on various street corners taking photos of motorbikes. One guy has a ladder, another a widescreen TV, and another favourite has a washing machine - complete with a box of powder balancing precariously on top.
As we're about to give up we spot a second 6 but don't get a good photo, but are spurred on for some time. The bikes here are crazy. They even ride on the pavement as you can see below!
Getting a little giddy on exhaust fumes we call it a day, but after taking a photo of a "solid five", we spot a baby on the bike that we hadn't seen before. Finally, photographic eveidence of a 6!
As we sit and eat our dinner, we keep gettign bombarded by women selling books (photocopied books at really cheap prices). I got one from this lady as the stack she was carrying on her hip was almost as tall as her!!
So far my first impressions of Vietnam are excellent. A totally crazy place!