We’ve already mastered the art of crossing the road with ‘the boy’ in the sling, now we were going to have to master crossing the road with the buggy. This was not a task I was looking forward to.
Ho Chi Minh is a manic city and in a city of just over 9 million, there are over 5.6 million motorbikes on the road. Our visit to Ho Chi Minh also coincided with ‘the boy’ finally differentiating between moving vehicles, until now everything was a car. We’re normally over the moon when a new word is used correctly, but when you’re in a city with one of the highest concentration of motorbikes in the world, and the word ‘bike’ is shouted every time he sees one, let’s just say that by the end of day one we were a little tired of the word!
Top of our list in Ho Chi Minh was to visit the Chu Ci tunnels, an underground maze of over 121 km of tiny winding dark passageways, which were the Viet Cong’s base of operations for the Tet offensive in 1968. We were shown many types of booby trap used by the Viet Cong to entrap both men and sniffer dogs and were given the chance to crawl into the tunnels, which although still small, have been widened to accommodate the Western build. A few people within our group didn’t want to experience the tunnels, so a nice German lady took ‘the boy’ under her wing whilst my hubby and I crawled a few hundred yards underground in the darkness.
Another place on our list was the War museum. My hubby has written a blog entry about our visit (click here to read), but the highlight for me was finding a children’s playroom on the third floor. If you’re on a two week holiday with kids then finding a playroom probably isn’t going to be the highlight of your day (or week), but when you’ve been on the road for 5 ½ months and you find a secure, clean, friendly playroom, well, it’s truly exciting.
‘The boy’ wasn’t quite sure what to do at first, surrounded by books, balls, building blocks and cuddly toys. To my surprise, after surveying his options, he chose to pick out the cylindrical building blocks and roll them around the playmat, something he normally does with our water bottles. One hour later and fully settled in this new environment he was running around throwing plastic balls around the room having a great time. It was lovely to watch.
Ho Chi Minh was also the point in our Vietnam experience when we began to tire of the constant hassle and scamming. Unlike other Asian countries where a taxi driver or local shop might try to increase their prices to the tourist market, in Vietnam, the scale at which it is done means you’re always on your guard. In one week we’d had to deal with taxis with faulty metres charging over four times the rate it should be, inflated bus tickets, numerous occasions where no change was given or the wrong change, menus showing one price outside the cafe and a completely different higher price on the menus you order from, ridiculous prices for water or basic items and the constant hassle of people trying to sell you something you’re not interested in. It can become very tiring, particularly when you’re travelling with a baby and you’re already more tired than the average backpacker.
Our next stop is the beach, so hopefully we can re-charge our batteries and view Vietnam in a more positive light.
Top tip of the day:
Even if you’re not interested in visiting the war museum, the playroom is certainly worth a visit. It’s away from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets and with an entry cost of only $1.50 (circa a £1) per adult (free for babies) it’s very good value.
War Museum, 28 Vo Van Tan, in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.