A week In Vietnam (Day Two)

The second morning, after a delicious breakfast, I was whisked away to the second hotel, the  Hong Han, by the concierge and his henchmen.  There, mine host was a lovely lass called Kim who, it seems is quite famous around the world due to her friendly service and attention to detail.  It seemed that nothing was ever too much for Kim.

Kim
Mine Host at the Hong Han, Kim Nguyen(Courtesy of Kim)

Always happy to go that extra mile to make sure your stay is a great one, Kim can also help you to plan you holiday itinerary, not only around Saigon but also Cambodia, Thailand and Laos.  If you are planning a stay in Saigon then check out the Hong Han for a place to stay. Tell Kim you heard about it on this blog.

I settled in and then decided to go for a walk and so, without so much as a glance over my shoulder, I headed out.

Best Coffee
Coffee to die for. I spent a lot of time in cafes just like this making the most of the coffee served in Saigon

After my jaunt with a guide the previous day, I had decided the I would walk everywhere I could and see the city at a more leisurely pace.  This was both a good and bad decision: good because I saw so much more detail, but bad because it was hotter than that to which I am accustomed and the heat was quite draining. I supplemented my hydration with frequent stops at cafes to sample the Vietnamese style of coffee to which I had become addicted.

Called cà phê đá, it is made with a special filter that sits atop the coffee glass. The coffee is dripped over a teaspoon of sweetened condensed milk and when done, one can stir the milk, as little or as much as needed, to reach the level of sweetness desired.  All this occurs at the table and is as much a part of the experience as is the drinking.

If one desired a cold version, cà phê sữa đá, one could order a glass of ice and then simply pour the stirred coffee over the ice.  Either way the coffee was great.

I had seen many of the main tourist attractions with the guide but as I ventured further I discovered a wide boulevard without cars or bikes.  At the top end was the Ho Chi Minh City Hall.  This is a quite magnificent building was built during the first decade of the twentieth century in colonial French style.  It was renamed Ho Chi Minh City Hall in 1995 in honour of Ho Chi Minh who had led the peoples revolution during the early part of that century.Ho Chi Minh Town Hall

I walked down the boulevard watching the people.  There were many who were obvious visitors, cameras on their necks and that aimless, hopelessly lost look in their eyes.  Then there were the workers, each clipping their heals along the pavement as if they needed to be somewhere else right at that moment.  And then there was me…. in no hurry, totally lost but not bothered as I had all day in which to find my way home………

At the bottom end of the boulevard, an eight lane highway formed a tangible barrier to reaching the Saigon River on the other side.  The street was filled to overflowing with cars, trucks and of course, the pandemic motor cycles.

A Street To Cross
Crossing this street was a nightmare for those less than brave

I found a pedestrian crossing of sorts and decided to cross.  It had no lights but even when I stood right at the edge of the road, no-one showed even the slightest inclination to stop and let me cross.  After ten minutes or so a group of Vietnamese came along and simply walked across in front of the cars.  They managed to get to the other side without a hitch and so saying a silent prayer I boldly stepped into the street.  Each step followed the next and suddenly I found myself in the midst of a swirling mass of steel and glass.  I faltered…….  You should never falter…… Faltering makes things start to come undone.  The cars, that had happily been avoiding me, now had to deal with a rogue pedestrian who had no apparent direction or purpose. No one knew where I might go next and they started to swerve and panic.  Horns honked and tyres squealed but amazingly I stayed on my feet.  I heard a voice calling…”Keep Moving..Just keep moving”  and I did just that.  I made a bee line for the other side of the street and the safety of the footpath.  It only took a few seconds but each seemed like an eternity.

Saigon River
A tug boat hauls a barge of freight along the lazy waters of the Saigon River

Safely across, I wandered along the side of the river.  Wide and slow, these waters carry much fright on ever present ships that ply this waterway.  I watched a ferry that had come from Vung Tau, a city around two hours south of Saigon, unload.  People watching is such an interesting pastime. Each has a different look, a different purpose and their interactions with life can entertain me for hours.

Taxi
Peddling his Trike Taxi, I saw this guy all over the city during the week I was there

I sat for a while and chatted with a guy who owned a three-wheel cycle.  The two wheels were at the front and there was a double wide seat for passengers.  Old Mate sat at the back and peddled his customers around the city.  He had been doing this for around twenty years.  After learning that I was from Australia he became quite excited and proceeded to tell me about how he had been wounded while fighting alongside Australians during the Vietnam conflict.  I had the impression that, had I been American, he would have altered his story to reflect that. I saw this guy all over the city in the days that followed.

Right at that time, he was waiting out the traffic and I spent an enjoyable half hour or so chatting with him and some other folk who had sat down to rest at that spot.

Rush Hour
The street filled even beyound capacity as commuters headed home from work

As the evening drew the curtains on yet another day, I sat beside the road and watched the traffic that had, amazingly, grown even more voluminous. The end of the working day had people rushing home.  Like a swollen stream the flow of vehicles ran on into the night.  In the midst of all this traffic, one could also see the odd street trader, pushing their two wheeled and carts along paying no heed to the traffic rushing by.

Life In The Fast Lane
This lady wheels her hand cart down the middle of a multilane street seemingly paying little heed to the cars and bikes rushing by

 

Street lights came on as well as car lights and the scene changed yet again.  Opportunities for light trails became the only option as the city put on it’s evening wear and the duller colours of the day receded into nothingness

Light Trails
Light trails and stars make pretty patterns along the riverside in Saigon

 

It was well dark when I decided to head for home, and again I was forced to brave the busy street to reach the boulevard on the other side. Nothing had change, the traffic was if nothing else, worse than when I had crossed over earlier but this time I had it nailed.  Just step out and hope, never falter, never fail!!!

Nguyen Hue
City Hall contrasts the evening sky at the top of Nguyen Hue as folk gather to spend time in each others company

The name of this boulevard is Nguyen Hue, and now with the night fallen it had taken on a new life.  People seemed content to just loiter around in groups and as I made my way up the street I was taken by the colour of the lights on the buildings that lined the street.

Pretty In Blue
The lights playing over this building change in an animated choreograph bringing life to the drabness of the buildings.

Many of the buildings lights were animated playing a series of changing patterns that gave the whole area a festive feel.

 

Fun Things Vendor
This young chap had a myriad of fun toys to sell as evening fell across the city

There were the ever present street hawkers as well as some street performers, all looking to glean a dollar in a harsh world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I came across a space that was void of people.  Lights set into the pavement were constantly changing colour and security police were rushing to and fro waving people away.  There seemed an air of expectation and so I settled down to wait.

Ho Chi Minh Promenade
A patch of clear space on an otherwise busy promenade had me wondering. The lights inset into the pavement were constantly changing colour

On the dot of seven, great spouts of water burst from around the lights and for the next fifteen minutes we were treated to an amazing spectacle of light and water.  Then, just as suddenly as it started, it stopped, and, much as they do when a train goes by and the barrier arms come up, folk started to walk across the pavement again.  Save for the wet pavement, there was no sign that anything special had just occurred here.

Fountains
The reason for the clear space became suddenly clear. On the stroke of 7pm the lights suddenly turned in to colourful fountains.

 

At the top of the boulevard the scene had also changed.  The lights had come on at City Hall and it stood out from the city night in awesome contrast.

Ho Chi Minh City Hall
The imposing seven metre tall statue of Ho Chi Minh stands in front of the City hall named in his honour

On the approach there is a statue of Ho Chi Minh standing seven metres high and looking down towards the river.  Made of bronze, this statue is even more imposing under lights than during the day.  Many folk were taking selfies in front of it with the city hall as a back drop.  I spent some time getting a few shots before heading back towards the street where I lived.

Looking Back
Nguyen Hue becomes a dazzling light display as night transcends day. The blue building is an animated light show

Nearer home, a street that had been full of vehicles when I walked through earlier in the day, was now a bustling street market. Marquees stood where cars had driven and folk were sitting down to eat their evening meals in any of the myriad of temporary restaurants that had appeared as if from nowhere. Clothing,souvenirs and almost everything else that one could want were on display as I walked the length of this momentary shopping mall.

Tent Restaurant
The street became a temporary canvas restaurant as folk gathered for an evening meal

 

My walk had taken me as far as the Saigon River and it was well into the night before I found myself heading back to the street where I thought the hotel was.

It was only then that I realised I had no clue as to where the hotel actually was or even what it looked like…………….  But that is for another story

Hidden Village

Hidden away on the shores of Lake Cootharaba on Noosa’a North Shore is a quaint little village called Boreen Point…

Having escaped from the shackles of work, if only for a day, I headed north to check out a little village on Lake Cootharaba, which forms part of the Noosa River System. As I had to pass close to Noosaville I decided to call in and pick up a coffee from my favourite coffee spot in Noosa, Old Salt Coffee.  Coffee here is always best standard and served by the very lovely, Rhian. Today was to be no different and I spent a few minutes chatting about how things were going.

Jetty 17 And Old Salt CoffeeOld Salt is tucked in at the end of Jetty 17 right on the river and you will find a brew every day until shortly after midday but never on a Wednesday.  That day is Rhian’s recovery day which she tells me is reserved for such serious things as sleeping in.

Boat HireBehind Old Salt is Jetty 17 Boat Hire where you can arrange to hire a pontoon boat or Kayak or even a Hydrobike.  New owners Matt and Bar are only too happy to help you enjoy your day on the river at Noosaville.  Easy to find just look for the Orange Shed with all the boats and kayaks outside.

You can check them out at https://www.facebook.com/Noosa-kayak-and-Boat-Hire-Jetty-17-106084929584613/…

Remember to treat yourself to a coffee from Rhian while you are there.

While I was there I grabbed a packet of Old Salt Blend beans for home use.

The river was busy today with the winter sun doing its best to pretend to be summer. It is a veritable playground both on the water and along the walkways on the edgeNoosa River Playground

Heading up through Tewantin, I was of a mind to call in at the Marina Markets but parking was impossible to find as these markets are very popular of a Sunday morning, so I decided to give them a miss today.

Just north of Tewantin the road turns off to Boreen Point. It carves a path through stands of native bush and runs alongside forestry plantations.  Here and there One catches a glimpse of a property hidden from the road by the bush.  One gets the impression that behind this facade of bushland is a thriving community and indeed there is much evidence of stables and horse fencing.

Beach Village StreetDriving into Boreen Point has the feeling of stepping back in time.  The road has no foot path and the houses are of an era more in keeping with holiday homes.  Down near the lake there are quite a few that have clearly been renovated and sport trendy corrugated iron cladding or large glass frontages.Beach House

The road takes you down to the beach front where it was club day for the local watch club.  By the number of craft pulled up on the beach or out on the lake, I would say that this is a strong club with an active membership.  I had to drive well passed the town centre to find a park but eventually managed a nice shaded spot. The road here was quite narrow and as there were no footpaths I shared it with passing cars as I headed back to the one store in town to get a feed.Boreen Pt Store

They were doing a great trade and I had to fill in fifteen minutes while I waited for my order.  I spent the time pleasantly watching the world go by, amazed at how busy it was. They had run out of bread and so I compromised my toasted sandwich with a toasted wrap. I believe I was all the better for it as the food was really good and I may just be asking for my Ham, Cheese and Tomato toasties to be made with flat bread in the future

Sail Boats On The ShoreWith time on my hand’s I wandered about the village and along the lake shore.  The lake itself is a really a bulge in the river about 10 kilometres long and five wide.  It is fairly shallow, with an average depth of only a couple of metres, if that.  Deep enough to sail boat and catch a fish.Pelican Jetty

This is a great little village to take a picnic lunch to and enjoy the drive in the country.  The old world charm of the village takes you back a pace and life seems very easy here.Boreen Pt Bay

As I returned down the coast I stopped in at the Coolum Beach Hotel to quench my thirst.  I had heard that Nadia Colbourn was entertaining and so I thought to catch her performance. She has a great voice and a relaxed style that is easy on the ears so I spent a while soaking up the atmosphere.  Feeling

Interlude programming
Setting up some sound for the interlude

 

 

 

Soon after I arrived, Nadia went to a break and I had a bit of a chat with her.  She is, as a person, just as she is as a singer, down to earth and easy to talk to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IntrospectiveAfter the break she was joined by Justin who accompanied her on Guitar.  They have an easy way about them that helps one to relax and just enjoy the music. If you ever get the chance take some time to her Nadia at one of the many gigs she has around the coastBonny & Clyde

As always, time passes and soon enough it was time to head home to sort through the days photos and write the journal.  Noosa has some great little hide-a-ways that are worth exploring when you visit here.  There is a huge variety of entertainment, both day and night and of course there is alway the river systems to explore….. remember Jetty 17 when you are looking to play on the river