We started our holiday staying in central Saigon, with a tour of secret alleyways and the location where, during the war, weapons were stored by Viet Cong Commandos from team 5 in readiness for the Tet Offensive on 30 January 1968 – it was recognised as a national historical site in 1988.
We saw fantastic fruit & vegetables, which made our local market in Shanghai seem a bit boring and we bought some spices from Ben Thanh market.
We wandered around & saw Notre Dame Cathedral and the central post office.
We then went by Vespa on a street food tour – starting at the Vespa cafe, then onto a seafood restaurant – where dinner included “jumping chicken” [actually bullfrog] – followed by huge pancakes, which we were taught to build properly ourselves with a lot of strange green leaves etc then onto a local piano & coffee bar, where we found out that some of the local Vietnamese had [vocal/musical] talents & that the coconut ice cream is delicious!
Next day, we went by speedboat to visit the Cu Chi tunnels – a network of over 250 km of secret underground tunnels, bunkers, kitchens & hospitals used by the Viet Cong to hide from Americans for 20 years. We went into an enlarged section (for fat tourists), which was almost unbearable even for a few minutes.
Back in Saigon we visited The opera house, where we had a tour before seeing the AO performance – brilliant acrobatics with bamboo & baskets.
We hopped off to visit a temple, a local market & a writer’s house, staying overnight on the boat at Xeo Quyt. Here we visited a former base of the northern army, then on to Cu Lao Gieng island, a floating fruit & vegetable market and a fish farm (talapia and cat fish) before disembarking at Chau Doc.
We drove to the land border crossing between Vietnam and Cambodia, at Xa Xia – dragged our suitcases between the multiple buildings/no-man’s land (but skipped a visit to the casino) & completed all the required & “extra” paperwork (which fortunately only cost an unnecessary USD $3) before heading to Kep. Kep was Cambodia’s first seaside resort founded by the French in 1908 & is popular for crab.
We took a day trip to Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island), but got caught in a big storm, which meant a rather wet & bumpy return boat journey – but we made it back without losing anything overboard. We just managed to squeeze in a visit to a pepper farm (Kampot pepper is supposed to be the best in the world & we now know that white pepper is actually “naked” red pepper). We made a purchase but had to drive one kilometre down the road so that the card reader could receive a signal.
Dad was given a lemongrass plant as a souvenir – we will have to see if it grows in Shanghai.