38 days away
5 km / 3 miles since last post
23,412 km / 14,548 miles total
After being on the go since leaving the UK at the end of October, we are certainly taking advantage of having a few days off as we both slept in until 11am today - quite unlike me!
We noticed that our hotel provides a laundry service, and whilst I had washed a few bits yesterday, we still had a lot more we wanted cleaned. We took a couple of bags of clothes down to reception, and were told it should be ready tomorrow - perfect!
We had missed breakfast, so headed straight for Koto once again for some much needed lunch. I had chicken fried rice which was delicious. It had chunks of pineapple in it, which I would never have thought to add but it really worked well.
We decided to visit the One Pillar Pagoda today, only around a ten minute walk from our hotel. It was a very interesting walk though as it meant crossing quite a few roads along the way. We have come to realise that when crossing the roads you do not wait until the traffic clears to cross, as it doesn't! Instead, you have to start walking into the road slowly and the mopeds and motorbikes will drive around you. It sounds a bit dodgy but it does work. We only came across one crossing along the way that actually had lights, but even when the green man appears, some bikes stop and others do not.
On the way to the One Pillar Pagoda we passed by the Presidential Palace and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex. There were plenty of guards around the outside of the area, and one of the guards told us that we couldn't take pictures of the palace - good job Stu asked first!
We could take pictures of the mausoleum however. This was an impressive and grand looking structure where Ho Chi Minh's body is held. It looked like it was closed for entry for the day, but this is somewhere we are due to visit when our tour begins in a couple of days, so I'm sure we will write more about it then.
Around the mausoleum is a huge area which has been pedestrianised and is the most open space we have come across so far. The locals use it to their advantage as we spotted lots of people running and exercising around here.
It appears that whilst there are many guards around the mausoleum area, they seem to spend the majority of their time blowing their whistle at people sitting down and telling them to stand up. Sitting down seems to be a bad idea here!
After walking around the complex we headed over to the One Pillar Pagoda. This is a small pagoda which stands on one single stone pillar, surrounded by a tiny moat. It was originally built in the 11th century, designed to resemble a lotus blossom. Unfortunately it was destroyed by the French when they left in 1954 and was rebuilt afterwards by the new government.
We headed back to the hotel after this as it looked like the sun was beginning to set. Along the way we were approached by a man trying to offer us a ride somewhere. He started off by saying "$2 for a lift, what hotel are you staying at?". No thanks mate!
We also passed by a group of people who had set up a badminton court on the side of the road and were engaging in a few games. Very interesting.
Just as we were discussing the fact that the Vietnamese seem a lot cleaner than the Chinese we spotted a man peeing up against the wall we were walking by! However, so far we have noticed that the Vietnamese people seem very friendly - a big difference to what we found in China (with the exception of South China who seemed quite nice).
Back at the hotel we caught up on writing the blog and sorting the pictures, before heading out for some food.
We decided to go to the Pho 24 restaurant as a bit of a change tonight. We appeared to be the only ones in the place when we got there, but at least this ensured we were served straight away.
Stu ordered beef Pho (noodles) whilst I had the chicken. Stu said his meal was really nice as he had ordered beef fillet, but my chicken had some fat on it which made it a bit less appetising, but it was ok. In fairness, the two bowls of noodles plus two beers only cost a total of £5, so was pretty good value. You might just about get one and a half beers for £5 back in the UK, but not your dinner too.
We headed straight back to the hotel after dinner. Stopping briefly in reception as they had a note about our tour group meeting tomorrow afternoon at 5:30pm. It should be interesting to meet our new group for the first time. I hope they are as nice as our last group!