Today is our last day in Vietnam. We saw this building and had to blink!
We took our time this morning then walked over to the covered market. It’s a huge building filled with everything from staples to souvenirs. There are food stalls with runners delivering meals to people working in the market and stalls with clothes and linens.
We bought a few little items, (I paid too much), then went in search of the Ho Chi Minh Museum of Fine Arts. It was where we figured it was, a few blocks from the market.
Crossing streets here is the biggest challenge. The streets are very wide and main intersections are huge, loosely organized roundabouts. As in other cities in Vietnam, you walk with conviction and it works! We found that if we attached ourselves to someone else crossing, it was a bit easier… Maybe there is safety in numbers. We followed one man across a street and he seemed eager to talk to us. We thought he was a local, and he turned out to be – a local Southern Californian! He lives in Santa Ana.
The museum is in a beautiful french Colonial building in the center of town. We stopped for a Vietnamese coffee (I will surely miss it. It does not even come close in LA) then spent a few hours in the museum.
Much of the contemporary collection is heavily influenced by conflict. Seeing so much war-related art makes a powerful statement, as artists very clearly expressed anti-American sentiments during and immediately after the war.
I also loved the ceramic collection, ancient and 20th Century, religious, utilitarian and decorative. Took lots of pics there today.
We walked back to the hotel just in time to meet our two guides for our motorbike city food tour. Their names were Julia and Coffee Bean!!
Rachelle went on the Honda motorcycle with Coffee Bean and I went with Julia on a Honda motor scooter. We left district one and went to district two, for grilled BBQ. We got there early, so hung out for a half hour or so until they opened. Then we had grilled okra, two dishes of meat wrapped in leaves and grilled, and a vegetable we never heard of, also grilled. Everything was served with mild pickled vegetables and fresh herbs. Then back on the bikes to stop for a view of the skyline as we stood overlooking the Saigon River.
And as this was an eating tour, we were taken to the best banh mi place in town back in district one. FYI, we split a small one – we were already full. Out of the 4 we had during our stay, this was the cleanest tasting, but my favorite was the one on our corner in Hoi An. Next we had little rice cups filled with shrimp, and eaten in lettuce packages, then one last pancake and a fresh coconut juice. Stuffed, we stopped for fresh juices, I gave mine away, then we were off across town to Chinatown where we managed to get down 1 of 2 typical desserts, both with water chestnuts, one hot and one cold.
We raced back across the city on the backs of the motorbikes in time to shower and check out. Our flight leaves tonight around midnight. The motorbike tour was a wonderful way to end out trip. Even though we were on a time constraint, our guides made sure we did not miss one single stop, one single food. They were great drivers and we were very comfortable with them. It was just the 4 of us, so we had a chance to ask them about health care, their other jobs, and their living situations. Coffee Bean lives with 4 other guys, he does the cooking. Julia lives with her parents and is also a travel agent. Her favorite TV show is How I Met Your Mother. She also loves the first 3 seasons of Glee.
Over the course of the trip, we got different answers about health care. It seems to depend on where you live, what insurance and deductible you have, and with what hospital you register. One thing everyone we spoke with agrees on, it is not an effective or affordable system.