Saturday, October 6, 2018

Saigon, very nice to return

We headed down to Saigon for the weekend, go down Saturday, come back Monday.  A short break, but we managed to pack quite a bit in without running ourselves ragged.

We took the airport bus into the city centre.  At 20,000 VND each (under USD1) we were on an uncrowded air-conditioned bus, a shutter bus according to the signage. 
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It dropped us off around the corner from our hotel Little Saigon Boutique.  It was an excellent location for us.

We headed off to drinks on the rooftop of Anan restaurant.  We enjoyed happy hour watching the street activity.  There was no obvious sunset as the rain clouds grew thicker and darker.  And inevitably the heavens opened and we retreated downstairs for an early dinner. 
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We had a 7 course tasting menu, modern Vietnamese fusion style food.  The meal was fantastic with 5 savoury courses and 2 sweet.Every dish was full of flavour and portions generous.  We didn’t finish our bottle of wine, so they put the cork back in and Andrew carried it back to the hotel
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The next morning we wandered around the area, meandering our way to the War Remnants museum for a return visit.  It was interesting skimming the extensive displays, but equally interesting was watching the other tourists reaction to some quite confronting images and information about the consequences of modern warfare.

It was hot and humid so we stopped for a cold drink at a bright little coffee shop – Thuc Coffee.  Refreshed and having been to the toilet we stepped back outside only for it to start raining.  By the time we found a spot to shelter it was full monsoon, and we waited for a good 10 minutes under the eaves under our umbrellas.
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For lunch we went to L’Usine, a concept store with a highly rated café.  It was a slick machine with good service and very good food.
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After a bit of a quiet afternoon we left the hotel at 5:20pm to meet our motorcycle drivers for the evening.  We were off on the XO Foodie motorcycle tour.  All the drivers were females (wearing traditional costume) and they proceeded to race us around the suburbs at speed from venue  to venue. 


It started with very good Bun Bo Hué (noodle soup with a aromatic lemongrass) Here all the participants were brought in from our respective hotels.  We introduced ourselves to the people sitting opposite us, who turned out to be New Zealanders also: being an ex-All Black and an ex-60 minutes presenter.
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Andrew took a little bit to warm up to being on the back of a bike and putting his trust in a tiny Vietnamese girl.  At the beginning he looked petrified, but by the end much more relaxed, but that may have been because he had consumed a few beers over the 3.5 hours. 

And while Andrew likes to think he could drive a motorbike in Ho Chi Minh City, the picture below is posed.  We did not drive!
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We visited a Vietnamese BBQ where we ate beef and goat,   a seafood specialty restaurant where we ate scallops and crab. And Andrew was ‘that’ person, the only one who was brave enough to eat the local delicacy of Balut (Baby Bird embryo).

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The next morning we checked out a couple of shops and then headed for the highly recommended chocolate café Marou.  Here with our coffee we had a brownie each.  Andrew describes it as the best brownie he has ever had. Ever.  It was fantastic.  

We purchased a block of chocolate, locally grown cocoa and locally sourced ingredients.  Dark Cocoa and ginger: It was good stuff, but the memory of that brownie will take a lot of beating. 

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A bit more walking and then we found our lunch spot.   We were dining and imbibing at the Pasteur Street Brewing Company https://pasteurstreet.com/ where we had some nice beers and lunch.  Andrew spotted the brewery before me and proceeded to do a bit of posing.
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Then it was down the stairs, back to Andrew’s bus stop to pick up the bus for the return to the airport.  2 flights under an hour each, with 30 minutes stopover on the runway at Phnom Penh and we were back in Vientiane. 



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