We think that because we are from Seattle that we know rain. Rain in Vietnam is a different story. It is warm, but in most cases thick. Seattle is used to a light grey drizzle, while this is undeniably a rain storm. When it stops the humidity around you is off the charts. Admittedly, I like the warmth and with the temperature/humidity a constant sauna temperature the rain is welcome rather than shunned.
Our last day in Saigon we experienced rain. I packed rain ponchos and a travel umbrella, so we were still in business. We traveled all this way, what is a little rain going to do? Still places on or list to see and with a trip like this acceptance that we will not get to see them all helps. We ventured to their Notre Dame replica, it was built by the French as a church for French colonists. It was closed (on a Sunday… I find that amusing). One European location I can cross off the list? Well, I am not sure it was on my list in the first place, but you get the point.
Across the street is their famous and functional post office. It was built when Vietnam was part of French Indochina (colonized) and designed by the famous architect Gustave Eiffel… yes that Eiffel. So, we went in and mailed something. After all it still functions as a post office.
We wandered toward the Saigon River had an amazingly cheap feast for lunch… Why does beer cost more than a dollar back home? Then decided since the rain had pretty much stopped to venture into Chinatown. Took a cab, since it is on the outskirts of where we were and we entered into a place where we saw very few tourists. Bihntay Market is not for anyone who suffers from the slightest amount of claustrophobia as it is full of stuff. Blankets, shoes, dried fruits, plastic containers, etc… practically anything you can think of is in this market. The aisles are narrow and crowded with people selling their wares. I tend to think that the products being sold in the markets near downtown all were supplied from this market as people were buying things by the case… like their version of an open air market Costco. Again got lost, but streets here are hard to read and we do not speak Vietnamese remotely at all other than, “Cam on” which means thank you and literally is pronounced like Gam Un. We finally found the pagoda that the travel book had on the map, which was colorful and full of pet dogs. It was interesting.
Caught a cab back to the hotel to pick up our bags and go visit the friends. It is not looked upon with favor in the eyes of the government, so they try to keep a low profile. They were surprised when I informed them that their congregation was listed on the website. Apparently it only became official 6 weeks ago, so they had not yet seen it advertised. The meeting was like something out of a yearbook! The hall was unmarked and down a random alley, glad we took a cab.
Then, arrived at the train station. Our hotel for the night… I will post about train travel separately. Just thought I would type up yesterday while it is fresh in my mind. I have time to kill on the train 🙂
Sayonara for now… D&M