Saigon – UPDATED

Ah, Saigon, city of a thousand blind massages and 6 tequila suicides! But we’ll get to that. First up, the ride from Mui Ne. Which was beautifully uneventful, the tarmac smooth, and for most of it, pretty light traffic. Frankly, i was a bit bored. The only thing that happened on the way was Rhys getting a tan he insists on describing as “racing stripes”.

On the way, a demonstration of Vietnamese fishing technique from the “huge net, stilt hut and some coracles” school.

Huge grasshopper. Size of my fist. On the wall of a service station. To be honest, i was expecting there to loads of huge insects everywhere in Vietnam, but this is the biggest. Its quite possible the reason for this is that everything over a certain size has been eaten by someone. Was expecting more snakes too, but i’ve only seen a couple in the wild. And a lot preserved in bottles of alcohol.

We found this milemarker and what can you do but take a pic. We actually spent about 20 minutes taking pics of ourselves and the bikes in every possible combination. Even though we were still 60km from Saigon, and we’ve actually ridden a damn sight further, since we didnt take the main highway, and we’ve ridden backwards and forwards a load of times.

Hitting Saigon traffic at rush hour (any other time just isnt the full experience).  We stopped here, still a fair few kilometres from the centre, for a breather. Whereapon we were approached by the campest man in Vietnam for a chat. His english was flawless, his mannerisms hilarious. I’m just sorry i forgot to take a pic of him.

Dai’s Place. We considered going in and asking for Dai, but as we were completely lost in a strange city with no idea where we were going to end up, it didn’t really seem prudent.

Bui Vien, in the tourist area. We first had a hideous experience in the initial place we wanted to stay, where the woman demanded we pay in advance for 3 days, and then when we refused and me and Steff wandered off to find somewhere else, continuously hassled Rhys to move the bikes. Then we found an amazing hotel for pretty much the same price with free breakfast. Winner. We’ve now spent the last couple of days wandering around here while we’ve waited for the bikes to be fixed. i even got Pooey’s speedo sorted, so i need to find a new place for the compass…

Rhys recieving a pass from the scrum half, in a not at all inappropriate pisstake of one country’s struggle for freedom. In the local park. If you look closely at Rhys’ face though, you can see a previously latent acting talent on display.

We also visited the “War Remnants Museum”, a bit like the one in Hanoi, in that it was full of odds and ends, especially outside. The vast majority of the museum was graphic photographs of all kinds of pretty grim subject matter, Agent Orange victims (taken by a Welsh photographer no less), atrocities, prisoners, explosions etc. Even had an exhibition of photos by press photographers killed in the war, and in some cases, their last photos.  One that really struck me was the last photo of war photography pioneer Robert Capa (if you havent heard of him, check wikipedia). His last photo shows French soldiers advancing across a field with a bank on one side. After taking the photo, he climbed the bank to walk ahead of the troops and stepped on a mine.  Anyway….here you have a huey mounted minigun.

Cessna O-1 Bird Dog. Dont think there are many Cessna’s in the world with rockets under the wings.

Tiger Cages. Apparently the American’s used these for “problem” prisoners.

I didn’t take pics of most of the photos in the museum, since they were pretty harrowing. But this, and the caption, were something a bit special. You have to hate someone pretty bad to be willing to disembowel yourself to fight them. These intestines are just slowing me down! You think. Presumably. And quite why you’d go to jail to fight isn’t fully explained either.

Lightly modified Fiat Uno.

Ok, a load of grenade launchers, staple of the Vietnamese museum scene. But special exception has to be made for, bottom right, the pump-action grenade launcher. Yep, one grenade launcher, pump-action. Its the failure of Arnie’s career that he never carried one on screen as far as i’m concerned.

And finally, the long awaited and much sought, M-60. To be fired only in short bursts, as it has a tendency, indeed a proclivity, for overheating.

Mmmm, hardware.

Saigon’s Reunification Palace, previously the Presidential Palace. They even have tanks parked on the lawn in a semi-recreation of the smashing down of the gates in 1975, the tanks gun barrels now symbolical pointed due “Imperialist Aggressor”.

View over Saigon from the Hotel.

Chicken in the restaurant near the bike mechanic’s. This one is just for dad really. Enjoy!

My favorite shop name in Vietnam, bar none. At least they’re honest about what they’re hoping for.

Since then we’ve been for a massage from a blind masseuse, which i hoped would be fantastic experience heightened by the hands of people who’s primary sense is touch. But it was actually filled with people walking around bumping into things, and the massage itself was slightly inept. Rhys was not impressed, since his vote was for beautiful woman to be massaging him with the tantalising possibility of a happy ending somewhere in there. At least they got women. I got a bloke.

And we’ve been to the Sheraton for an obscenely expensive drink, purely for the view over the city from the 23rd floor. I took a couple of shots which i’ll try to upload in the next post.

But the major thing is we’ve met up with Dan again (sadly Brian has had to return home), and girl called Pasquale (i think…). They both have bikes (mmmm, girls who ride, its a weakness), and are dead set on getting them into Cambodia, which seems to be a more realistic option than Laos. So we’re going to give it a go. More time with Pooey was always going to be an attractive option. We leave tomorrow morning for the Mekong Delta and then the border crossing. Just hope we have more luck than last time.


Just wanted to post a pic of the view over Saigon, that we got from the 23rd floor of the Sheraton while enjoying an incredibly expensive drink (and some cheap cigars that Charlie brought).

Speaking of which, i probably also need to explain the tequila suicides thing. We met up with Charlie (the guy who threw his Minsk off a cliff) again in Saigon. He’s there working for a few months as a volunteer manager. He was also really gutted when we left for the Cambodian border, so we agreed we needed to do something really stupid in celebration. So 6 tequila suicides it was (which in case you haven’t had the pleasure, involves snorting the salt, drinking the tequila, and squeezing the lime into your eye). Resulting in 10 minutes of everyone stumbling round saying argh a lot.

We also told Pasquale that in order to be a biker, she needed a moustache. This was her best effort. Pretty good to be honest…


~ by zendog888 on 12/12/2010.

4 Responses to “Saigon – UPDATED”

  1. Loving the pic of the local scrum half passing to rhys!

  2. We were winning when I left.

  3. it’s like looking at pics of your father!

  4. will you really be able to part with Pooey??

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