Vietnam – Headed to Saigon

February 25, 2018

Luggage out at 0700, breakfast at 0630 and departed ship at 0800 for the 1-1/2 hour bus ride to Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City as it is called now. When we arrived we stayed on the bus for a city tour. Of course the hotels rooms will not be ready so they are filling the time. We will visit Notra Dame amd the old post office both built in the late 19th century.

After enteing Siagon we when to the Reunification Palace, the past home of the President of South Vietnam until Siagon fell in 1975. We toured the place seeing hte conference room, meeting rooms, bed chambers, and even the kitchen. In the basement was all of the communications equipment, switchboard, teletypes, including a model 28s, 35 and 33.

We stopped at the old Post Office across the street from Nore Dame.

We went into the Post Office which is still and operating PO but also the building has souvenir shops, post card shops, etc. Post Office had been designed by Gustav Eiffel.

We then when to Minh Phoung Hand Workshop where they make Lacquered art items. The process uses duck egg shells, and mother of pearl for inlay and in addition hand painting.

The use the tar from the lacquer tree and apply two coats of lacquer after the inset of mother of pearl or egg shell and then it is sanded with 17 different
grits of paper to achive the shine.

Following the workshop we walked through the Ben Thanh Market
and were shown the fixed price portion which is run by the government and the negotiable part of the market where capitalists are willing to bargin to sell their products. Of course the market also includes fruit, nuts, meat, fish flowers and other items that are editable.

The Ben Thanh Market was built in 1870 by the French, the market was initially called Les Halles Centrales before being renamed Ben Thanh in 1912. From a wet market created by street vendors by the early 17th century, Ben Thanh has experienced many ups and downs throughout it’s history, and is now the oldest surviving market and one of symbols of Ho Chi Minh city. That makes it a must for any visitors travelling to this 300-year-old city.

Today, because the market possesses one of the most crucial locations in District 1 (the intersection of Le Loi, Ham Nghi, Tran Hung Dao Avenues and Le Lai Street), transportation is extremely convenient and trade is bustling. In the morning, you can find almost everything from dry food to clothes for a reasonable price. The market atmosphere can sometime be a real hustle and bustle, but it is an exciting experience after all. However, always remember that bargaining is a must in any Vietnamese market.

 

We then checked into the Park Hyatt Hotel adjacent to the Opera House.

Park Hyatt Saigon, one of the leading accommodation in Saigon District 1; with 245 rooms including 23 suites, which recently underwent a complete renovation of décor, facilities and furnishings. Today, the upgraded French-colonial style rooms combine elegant, traditional comfort with the latest technology, including in-room mini iPads, Nespresso machines and sensor lighting systems. For those of you who welcome additional space, the suites at Park Hyatt Saigon all feature a separate living room, as well as a curated collection of oil paintings, antiques, lacquerware and handcrafted embroidery by established Vietnamese artists. Discover spaces that meet your unique preferences during your time in Ho Chi Minh City at Park Hyatt Saigon.

We have a free afternoon others have elected to go to a cooking class, which was not an option when we booked, this is the reason we are staying and extra 2-days for our own cooking class and market tour by the chef, which will be more comprehensive.

Tonight we dine abroad the Saigon Princess on the Saigon River.

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