VIETNAM   -   16,000 dong = $1US 

Feb. 20 & 21, 2008 – Wednesday & Thursday

               Feb 20th - Arrive HCMC  (Saigon) Vietnam

 Hotel: An An Hotel #2  in Saigon Vietnam
              216 De Tham Rd. District 1, HCMC  
              PH: +84 4 923 3278/0898  

                 Cost: $32US

    Sinh Café: 
          Few doors down from the An An Hotel

      Restaurant: Quan An Ngon  for Vietnamese food

      To See: The Cu Chi Tunnels
          Cost: $9
      Booked at Sinh Café for tour, guide and transport


 *The continuation of the bus/boat tour ended in a small dirty local mini bus on bumpy crowded road with locals squeezing into the bus coming into Saigon.  This verified our decision in the future to book through Sinh Cafes ( in Viet Nam) where buses are first class, fast, reliable and cheap with drop off and pick up. Our hotel was only doors away from the Sinh Café  and by the amount of ‘traveler’s’ boarding buses we never checked on any ‘local buses’ for the rest of our trip and used the Sinh Café tours, buses (not expensive) and even some hotels which we found clean, convenient and in the best situated areas.   We were now in the Sinh Café’s great connection system. The An An has a choice we made from other cruisers who stayed here but found others in the area cheaper and look fine.

With three million registered motorcycles in Saigon we opted for the rickshaw

 Typical street scenes around Saigon or Ho Chi Min City.  (HCMC)

                                                         CU CHI TUNNELS

Feb 21st  -  in HCMC (Saigon)

* The Cu Chi tunnels are fascinating.   We had only one day so found them worth the 30km trip out of Saigon. Started in 1948, then with civil unrest in 1966-1975, 200km of tunnels were dug in three layers under a farm area of orchards.  During the ‘American War’ 16,000 people lived under ground and by the end only 4,000 survived.   You can enter the tunnel system and crawl through and see how they lived.  Above ground are exhibits and explanations of the booby traps, many made from left over armament from the enemy, as well as a shooting range where you can shoot an AK47 rifle.  ($ extra)


Steve proves otherwise

The Cu Chi tunnel system where 16,000 people lived during the   'American War'

An entrance to the tunnels, too small for an American to enter


There was an American camp 5km from the tunnels.   A propaganda movie shown here tells of how the Americans dropped Agent Orange however none was dropped here due to being so close to the camp.  However, there is recognition of a Vietnamese women hero for killing 30 to 40 of the enemy.  

  Much of the armament used was confiscated and made into landmines and other torturous traps and placed all around the field above the tunnels.   The Vietnamese people were  as cunning and sharp  as their traps



American M41 tank destroyed by landmine  near the tunnels in 1970

USA bombs used to make landmines

It was difficult to tell the N. Vietnamese from the south,  hard to know who were the enemy.  Many of the north Vietnamese changed into different clothes and walked right into the villages.  One way to tell the enemy was by the tan lines on their feet from the sandals they wore made of rubber tires.

                                              Cement buildings in vacated American camp near DaNang

The people of Vietnam are coming back strong with an 8% increase in their economy as of 2008


 Feb. 22, 2008 – Friday- travel day

              Bus to Dalat from HCMC (Saigon)

              Cost: $5 thru Sinh Café  8 hours

 Hotel: Trung Cang Hotel in Dalat

              Booked in Saigon thru the Sinh Café

              Email or

              Cost: $26 

Restaurants:Café Tung 6  Hoa Binh Sq.
                           (hangout of Saigon intellectuals in 1950’s)
                        V Café - across from hotel

                           (cute serving western & chocolate or lemon pie)     

*Our hotel the Trung Cang Hotel had us on the 3rd floor and almost a suite with private bath, three big double beds.  We think for less we could have requested a cheaper room and there were many hotels in the area but it was rainy and cold and it was just too nice to give up.  After all we are on vacation.  



Across the street was the fabulous V Café with good food and wonderful atmosphere on a drizzly night. Also next to the internet.


Walking down around the corner up over the hill and down some steps we were in the middle of the most awesome market.  Buckets of wringing wiggly things were too tempting not to video.  All in the fish area but the market was fascinating as were the people.  A street market was laid out in the evening selling piles of clothing. 


Main Market Place

 Chicken Feet  Yumm!

Feb. 23, 2008 – Saturday in Dalat

   To See: The Sinh Café Landscape Sightseeing Tour

                 (There are six tours to choose from)

                 Cost  $13 each includes lunch, guide and entrance fees.

* Dalat is in the cool mountains where the elite would go to escape the heat of Saigon. The Sinh Café is part of the hotel where we booked our tour. It was a packed full day on a nice bus with stops at Prenn Waterfall, a Buddhist meditation monastery and Paradise Lake, a ride on a cable car, visit to a Chicken village a poor Cham minority people with weavings to sell and Boa Dai’s Summer Palace in art deco style.   


Prenn Waterfall

  Paradise Lake          

Cable car across agricultural

                                               BUDDHIST MEDITATION MONASTERY 

Outsiders can stay up to 1 month with room and board.  They meditate 3 times a day and start at 3 AM

Evening meal is only a glass of soy milk



The Cham are the poor minority people who live as  farmers in the agricultural valleys and grow eggplant and flowers for a living

10 people live in this house

Curious children

                              The village women also make a living by selling weavings to tourists


Bao Dai was the French puppet king of Vietnam whose palace was in art deco style

Boa Dai was the13th and last Emperor who abdicated in 1945 to HCMC and established a communist government in Hanoi in defiance of the occupied French colonial authority
After a free lunch we were off to the Crazy House which is also a hotel although being renovated at this time.  Its architecture, by an eccentric female relative of a past president with much cosmetic face surgery, is on the premises and is as bizarre as her work.  

On to the Valley of Love (waste of time) then to a Traditional Embroidery work/show room that is pretty spectacular.  Pieces can be bought and are beautifully done some taking months to make.    Tour does not include a stop to see the Crazy Monk at the Lam Ty Ni Pagoda but he is not always in. 

Amazingly intricate  are beautiful pieces of embroidery all hand done with reasonable prices


The Embroidery showroom was an amazing historical trip by depicting Vietnamese  life in many of the pieces. 

This piece shows the elders training the young girl at an early age and all is done in embroidery at it finest

We did see a bear on a truck in a pink tutu riding around advertising something.  Dalat is a bit strange but interesting.  There is a Dalat wine which is not bad. Lots to see in the vicinity outside of Dalat.

Black bear in pink TuTu

Stuffed baby white tigers


Bottled cobras and scorpions



Feb. 24, 2008 – Sunday- travel day
                  Bus to Nha Thong from Dalat
                  Booked through the Sinh Cafe 

                  Cost: $4US  6-7hrs

  Hotel: Perfume Grass Inn  4A Biet Thu St.
                 PH: 524-286
                 Around the corner from where bus stops in Na Trang

                  Cost $30

        Restaurant: Café de Paris – few blocks from hotel on a
                               corner.  Good Pizza


*The bus ride was interesting coming out of pine forests dropping down 7000 feet past small market communities to the beach on the coast. Stopped at an 800 year old Cham Tower and passed on the Bird’s Nest drink in cooler made with white fungus, sugar and birds nests.  Didn’t try the wine with seahorses or roasted sparrows either. 

Birds Nest Drink made with white fungus, sugar and birds nests.

800 year old  Cham Towers


We did not book a hotel but had heard the Perfume Grass was nice with wooden walls and Chinese décor so when the bus stopped around the corner from it, we got a room and were not disappointed proving you can find your own hotels and they are always near the Sinh Café stops or offices.   Breakfast room, and internet in lobby.


Na Trang is a beach resort so only 2 blocks from the beach with beach umbrellas and seafood hawkers. Na Trang comes alive at night.  Can hire an ‘Easy Rider’ on his historical motorcycle to get around, they find you.   Our purpose to come here was to catch a flight on north to Danang and Hoi An but an overnight train is available following the coast north clear to Hanoi.   We heard it was difficult to sleep on the train so took Vietnam Air to have more time in HoiAn.

Na Trang seaside resort town

Hawker selling lobster on the beach

     An 'Easy Rider' will seek you out for a ride on his historical cycles or rent a tricked out scooter
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