30.03.2009 - 30.03.2009
Either I was too tired, or the soft sleeper bunk is truly comfortable, I fell asleep almost immediately after I boarded the train and woke up at 4:30 a.m. when the train reached Saigon, or currently known as Ho Chi Minh City. But I don't like Uncle Ho, and Saigon sounds more romantic, so Saigon is its name. The sky is still dark. I just noticed that I haven't taken a shower for nearly 48 hours. I plan to go look for a hotel when it's brighter, and I hope I can get an early check-in so that I can take a good shower.
5:15 a.m., I left the train station and walked towards Pham Ngu Lao Street, which supposedly is the place where there are many backpacker guesthouses. I reached there after a 45-minute walk. I am sure I asked more than 10 guesthouses, and prices range between USD14 to 18. Not what I expected. Finally there was one which offered USD12, I bargained it to USD10 and got a room on the 4th floor. In terms of price, this room is the least worth it. I don't want to drag my luggage around any longer, so I decided to check-in for the night. Maybe I will look for a better place later.
How can I describe the room? You can feel the spring coils when lying on the mattress, TV only has Vietnamese channels (no satellite channels), the shower has its water trickling out, etc.... You get the point. What a far cry from all the places I have stayed so far.
I went out after shower. First, I followed the address of the meeting place and walked there, to see how far it is. Not too far, a 15-minute walk should do it. But I have no idea when the meetings are held, and I haven't got contacts of anyone here. Maybe I will get dressed and come here tomorrow evening to see what are my chances.
Streets of Saigon
Where is the rider??
After determining the location, I went back to Pham Ngu Lao. There I exchanged USD10 for 173k Dong, bought ticket to Phnom Penh on Wednesday for USD12, bought a bottle of mineral water and burnt some of my photographs onto a CD for 20k Dong. I didn't think I could last that long with a 1GB card!
At the same time I walked around to enquire room rates, but seems like the lowest I can get was USD14. After breakfast I went to sit around in the park and took a bus like the local people do to Cholon (Chinatown). I have no idea which bus to take, and I can't seem to get any answer to my question, so I just tried a bus that had the word "Cholon" on it. But, how far is it? Where should I alight? Questions which I have no answer even till today.
Inside the bus
Anyway I just enjoyed my bus trip and look out of the window, for any place that seems interesting. It's getting very hot again so I alighted somewhere where there is a shopping complex just for the sake of getting some air-con. The shopping complex looked very much like one that we would see in Malaysia. But things are expensive! Watching a movie on a weekday cost 70k Dong, which is around RM14. More expensive than Malaysia!
For the next few hours, I wandered aimlessly (again!) around Chinatown (I'm not sure if it's really where I wanted to go, but I did see some Chinese stuff), and had a few local snacks for lunch. Having visited the central part of Vietnam, I find Saigon uninteresting. I am leaving the museums for visit tomorrow so that might make me like Saigon more I hope?