Try as I might, it seemed no photo could capture the sheer volume of traffic. Also, up to this point when crossing the road the rule has been "just walk out at a steady pace, the traffic will not hit you" but it looked like this would not work here!
That evening we ate in Pho 2000, quite a basic restaurant serving mainly...you guessed it, Pho! Its claim to fame was that Bill Clinton had visited in 2000, and they had plenty photos on the wall to prove it. After that our tour leader Pooky took us for ice cream - here the hilarity begins. As we turned the corner, we see the place is called "Fanny Ice Cream" which reduced our group of primarily British travellers to immature giggles which was not helped by the various slogans of the place. The ice cream itself was delicious, I had an extremely hard time choosing but in the end went for a berry-flavoured sundae which came served in a cute cocktail glass.
As it turns out, it was quite good that we'd had such a night of laughs as a good proportion of the next day had a much more sombre mood, as we headed to the Cu Chi tunnels where we learnt a bit about the Vietnam war. I have to admit, my knowledge of the Vietnam war was pretty basic so I'm glad to know more now.
The Cu Chi tunnels have been set up for tourists, over part of the area where the rebel forces in the south of Vietnam, the Viet Kong, lived and fought the South Vietnam Army and allies. The tunnels themselves were used for the Viet Kong to hide in when the opposition was in the area. These days, they have opened one section of tunnels up for tourists and apparently have even been widened for that purpose but I was told they were still a pretty tight squeeze, and you have to go through them on your hands and knees. I am a little bit claustrophobic so decided not to go in, but did have a go in an old entrance/exit to the tunnels which has been blocked up at the bottom. We also got to see some pretty terrifying examples of booby traps the Viet Kong soldiers would have used.
We also got to try some tapioca, which is not the same as the dessert you may have been served in school, but is a root vegetable which was the staple food of the Viet Kong during the war. I was prepared for it to be pretty gross, but it was just fairly tasteless. It was alright, but I wouldn't have wanted to eat it solely for several years on the trot!
Our tour guide for the day was Hai, who was amazing. He fought for the South Vietnam side and with the Americans as a young man during the war and told us stories about his time that could honestly be made into a Hollywood movie today. Mostly, it was just nice to see someone who's been through something as awful as that and still be so positive - he talked about how he shares a drink every night with his neighbour, who was a Viet Kong solider during the war.
We then spent some time in the War Remnants Museum, which was pretty hard to take as it was filled predominately with photographs of people injured during the war or who have been victims of the chemical agents used including many babies and children who were born with deformities. I thought the number of photographs was just going overboard and it seemed like they were there for the shock value.
For some light relief and a pick-me-up, a few of us girls headed back to Fanny's! This time I went for passionfruit and pineapple sorbets - yum.
In the evening, we went for a group dinner followed by some cocktails on the roof terrace, where I enjoyed a Miss Saigon cocktail. When in Rome..!
The following morning we were back on the bus again for day trip to the Mekong Delta, where the Mekong river meets the sea. Here we saw local life (if slightly set up so it was suitable for tourist visits) - from a local group of musicians to coconut being manufactured into various different forms such as candy (mmm!) to a ride on a small river boat. It was a good day and a hot one, so when the traditional Vietnamese hats were on offer in our various forms of transport I jumped at the chance to wear them, more for the fact that they'd keep the sun off my head than for any photo opportunity!
The next morning, two of our group were leaving us (and two new joining) as we headed off to Cambodia. So of course, for their last night we managed to find another bar with Happy Hour (can you tell I love being in a country where Happy Hour is allowed, unlike in Scotland?!). We only arrived for the last 15 minutes of it so hastily ordered a couple of drinks each. It also had a pretty nifty logo (I'm not even sure of its name, I was just referring to it as Moustache Bar).
It was really quite sad saying goodbye to two of our new travelling friends! You forget how quickly you can become fond of people when you are spending all of your time together - I guess that's one of my favourite things about travelling.
So that's you all caught up on my Vietnam adventures. Well, apart from one last picture which I took the next morning at the bus station:
I mean, a bargain at 6p and 10p respectively but...how is this policed?!