We arrived in Ho Chi Minh City mid day and took a taxi to our hotel, the Ruby Asian
3 right in the center of town - district 2. Ho Chi Minh City consists of 12 districts (made us think of the Hunger Games), 5 letter districts, 5 rural districts. Depending on who you ask, the population varies from 7mil to 10 million. It feels like every one has a motorbike.
Our hotel was about $35cnd a night and includes a buffet breakfast. The rooms are clean but worn. The lobby is quite nice. Right across from the hotel is a park that appears to run about 4 blocks. Small Vietnamese shops are all around the hotel and on the other side of the park. A block behind the hotel has expensive shops and the first Starbucks in Vietnam.
The first day we walked around our area. The traffic is even busier - or at least faster than Hanoi. People don't seem as friendly as they were in Hanoi.
We arrived at a great time, the park across from the hotel is hosting an amazing flower/plant show. Bonzai trees, cherry trees, orchids, sunflowers, and lots more. I intend on having a separate blog entry for just flowers during this trip. Local entertainment was occurring at two different stages in the park. Street vendors were all over. We bought some coconut candy, being made on the street. Clowns were making balloon animals. It was very festive.
The following two days we attended day tours to the Mekong Delta and the Cu Chi tunnels. I have posted those items on separate blog entries.
After Ho Chi Minh City we traveled to Phan Thiet. I returned to Ho Chi Minh City on February 8th to take a flight to Cambodia.
Luckily my sleeper bus arrived early. I took my backpack to the Asian Ruby and went walking. Not much was open as it is the Lunar New year. Given many people live in the back of their shops -the sidewalk is thier front yard. Some families were lounging in chairs, sleeping in lounge chairs and enjoying their day off people watching. On the way to the airport I saw many small parks and community areas holding celebrations.
Two blocks away from the Ruby Asian another hotel was hosting a New Years Celebration. I arrived at the right time and got to watch the hour long show. Other smaller groups were walking around town celebrating. Small children were dressed up in traditional clothing and carrying around red envelopes of lucky money.
The show I watched had drums, tambourines and gongs. Dragon costumes were in reds,oranges, green, yellows and a white with lights. One dragon dance (green dragon) ceremonially knocked down a gate to let the new year enter a home, then danced on a table, ate some food and left by knocking down last year's fences. A white dragon danced on pillars reaching the second floor of the hotel where he was offered food by the hotel chef's. An elaborate dance was performed by several young men holding a paper dragon on sticks. They weaved the dance and it appeared like the dragon was floating around them. The music was entrancing. I feel very fortunate to have seen this.