Ho Chi Minh City Day 3 – A Lazy Day

Today started off considerably later with me not getting out of bed until about 9am which is forgivable as I am after all on holiday and I did come here to relax.  Once I was showered and ready to go it was time to begin the morning forage for breakfast and coffee not in that order.

The coffee part is an easy beast to satisfy as I am quite taken with the coffee shop called Flash a few doors down from where I am staying so I stopped in there for my new found replacement being a Vietnamese milk coffee over ice.  Tastes amazing and I could sit drinking it until the cows come home.  Armed with a fresh supply of caffine in my blood it was time to forage for some food.

I stopped at another little cafe to grab my breakfast which was a simple tuna toasted bagutte and another coffee to go with it for about 70,000VND all up, I think I am getting quite spoiled by the prices here, I still haven’t got through the first $50 I changed when leaving Australia.  I have become slightly more rude for me, in that I don’t actually stop with all the cyclo drivers anymore, as if you stay still they have their books of recommendations from people all over the world and I think I have seen somewhere between 20 and 50 by now.  I still say good morning and no thank you but keep on walking.

I set out thinking to see the reunification palace today instead of just from the gates, however the multiple streets off the one intersection did prove to be my downfall and I didn’t actually manage to track back to it, I know that I would have been close however was probably a street or so over either side.  It was no matter though either way I was still thoroughly enjoying myself walking around.  In the end I found myself close to turtle lake so I decided to go and take a look.

It never ceases to surprise me that they tend to put these little parks / lakes in the middle of busy intersections, it makes crossing over to see them an interesting experience, but often well worth it for a place to sit down and watch the traffic go by.  It was a relatively nice lake so I took some pictures and believe that I managed to get a few decent reflection ones of the sky and trees so it will be interesting to see how those turned out.

With that under my belt I thought that I was near to either a massive park or a botanical garden so I headed off in that direction thinking to pick up some lunch on the way.  I encountered a gloria jeans coffee shop not far from the turtle lake and they also had a Bread Talk!! attached to it so I decided to stop for more coffee and some lunch from bread talk.  The coffee whilst quite good was definitely the most expensive I have paid for a single coffee here at 90,000VND being almost on par with Perth prices, but to be expected from a western chain really.

Once I had finished the coffee it was time to grab something to eat from Bread Talk, was surprised and very happy to see it here, it makes the 5th country in Asia that I have found it, I picked up a breakfast sandwich of egg / bacon and a few other things for 20,000VND and I rate it as one of the best sandwiches I have ever tasted, whatever mayo they used in it tasted absolutely divine, I could eat that all day and be quite happy.

By this point I was quite close to the gardens that I was heading to and the place was certainly huge, must have wandered around there for a good hour to two hours looking at the trees and various plants that they had in there with some very interesting hues and took loads of photos to bring back and show dad as they will be right up his alley.

After enjoying the unspoilt natural beauty surrounded by crazy traffic on all fronts I decided to try and find a pagoda, aside from not knowing where one was I took a stab on another green area on my map and headed in that direction.  It turns out that there doesn’t appear to be pagodas in the general area that I am staying or where I walked to however I did come across a large public park and was quite content to sit down and watch the world go by.

At this point I had a somewhat odd experience, a guy walked up and started talking to me in Vietnamese which I then tried to communicate that I didn’t understand a word that he was saying, he kept on talking and then started touching me. He was running his hand up and down my arms and my first thought was a distract tactic to try and rob me however his hands never once went anywhere near where my camera bag or wallet was so it seemed like he just geniunely wanted to touch me.

He grabbed my hand and looked at it and traced it, then placed his hand on my chest, it looked like he wanted to touch me some more but I was feeling rather uncomfterable by this point so I took his hand and put it next to his side and just said no and shook my head, he just walked off smiling still chattering away.

He never acted threateningly or menacing however it was just an odd experience to be sure.

Ended up striking up a conversation with an Indian guy who lives / works here as his chemical group is starting up some south east asian operations and I think we chatted away for a good 3 – 4 hours on a wide range of topics such as sport, travel, state of the world, politics.  All in this beautiful setting with people all around us jogging, playing badminton, doing some variant of tai chi and other fitness based activities.

One thing that he explained to me is there is a kind of security there that keep an eye out for displays of affection that are too out there such as a hug that lasts too long or kissing to remind them that they are in a public place and that children are often present and to do that sort of stuff at home.  I see far worse on my travels to and from work every day than what they would consider too much lol.

At one point there was an old retired vietnamese soldier that came to sit and watch the day go past as well however he didn’t like where the seat was so after some gesturing the guy I was chatting with and myself picked it up and moved it to where he wanted, he was incredibly thankful and insisted on giving us each a cigarette for services rendered which I thought was quite nice.

I shared a coffee and some chips with Phawhe and we continued to discuss the countries that he has lived in and traveled to and I gave him some tips and advice on Singapore / Hong Kong as he was looking to travel there in the next few months for a visit.  We had a local lady join us for a short time, she mainly wanted to comment on how handsome I was and to offer me weight loss services as she seemed to represent Herbalife range of natural products, she didn’t speak any english and his vietnamese skills were very basic he just told her he was from malaysia and I was from south africa and we were not interested.

He made the point that if people made you uncomfortable you didn’t necessarily have to tell them where you were from which I found slightly interesting as I had never thought of that.

In the end it was getting quite dark so we shook hands and parted ways with me heading back to my hotel and he his apartment.  It was a very slow and uneventful day for me but a day well spent.

Thoughts / Obervations for the day:
– Bread Talk is here!
– I really love the local coffee
– Even in the dark streets I felt totally safe walking back to my hotel
– Experiences are everywhere just waiting for you to find them

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