Day 2 – Istanbul to Saigon (HCMC)

15 04 2012

It’s Day Two in the Big Brother House…

Turkish Airlines came up trumps again, by taking off an hour late. It seems to be par for the course with them. Another minor point that they failed to mention was the flight was actually going to Bangkok. Wait…what, did I miss something ? The Captain then muttered something in “Turglish” about Saigon, and I felt mildly reassured.

So the 9 1/2 hour flight came and went. I was lucky enough to have slept for the majority of the uneventful flight. After what felt like four straight years of air travel, I arrived into Saigon.

The first thing that struck me about the place was how green it is. I also noticed that people seemed to be stealing bits of the airport as farmland ! Cultivated crops opposite the runway, not what you expect to see. Soviet era block buildings abound, the red star everywhere. Bare in mind, I haven’t even got off the aircraft yet !

It’s always interesting to see how countries organize their borders. These are the first “officials” that you see, and the range of their attitudes vary greatly. American’s are generally the most sociable, ranging to gruff Chinese officials. In Saigon, the official said not a single word to me, simply taking my passport…scowling at me and then handing it back.

You know…the one aspect of this trip that has been stressing me ? The taxi journey from the airport to the Tan Son Nhat Hotel. Internet forums are wonderful sources of information, both wanted and unwanted. They warned about the hassle that is guaranteed from hustling taxi drivers outside. The forums were correct. No less than 10 seconds outside…Sir…Sir…Sir. I will admit that I fell foul of one, but the price to the hotel was correct.
Reading
In the taxi, and the driver asks for a tip straight away ! You have to admire the audacity of him. Or rather the bare faced cheek of the fooker. I was simply shocked at how busy Saigon is. How the hell I am going to ride in this quagmire tomorrow I have no idea ! It is simply bedlam, with seemingly no rules of the road.

The Tan Son Nhat Hotel is an impressive building. It used to be the office for the President up until a few years ago. It’s military heritage is quite obvious, as the bell hop had a Kubaton !

Reading the hotel booklet, it has a few interesting do’s and don’t :

Should not concern yourselves with invited motions of stranger women or you will be in troubles

Be careful to those who want to get extremely acquainted to with you.

Should not go for a walk alone at night

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Early start tomorrow…

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