On Monday, we’re up early, bags out at 7:30, breakfast at 8:00 and disembark/transfer at 10:00. By 11:00 we’re nearing the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon and the largest city in Vietnam.
To Americans, Saigon means the Vietnam war – the capital of the Republic of South Vietnam, the capitalist and anti-communist state that fought with the assistance of the US against the communist North Vietnam. The war efforts ravaged this now unified country for nearly 20 years before the US withdrawal forced the fall of Saigon in 1975 with a Communist victory. After reunification with the north the city was renamed Ho Chi Minh City in honor of the late North Vietnamese leader.
We’re headed for the Sheraton Saigon Hotel, located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, only a few blocks from the Saigon River and steps from the Opera House and the famous Rex Hotel. On our way across town we visit the former Presidential Palace, the Central Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral before having lunch at the Ly Club and then checking into the hotel. This evening we’ve been invited to attend the AO Show at the Saigon Opera House. The show is somewhat Cirque du Soleil like, an interesting fusion of dance, circus and music. It’s a great show – if you have an opportunity to see it – go!
It’s Tuesday, October 29th and it’s been 18 days since we landed in Tokyo to begin our Asia adventure. We make a quick dash to the Saigon central market for a few last minute items including a small luggage tote. We’ve acquired enough silk, artwork, coffee and spices that we’re over our weight limits without an additional bag. Returning to the hotel, we finish packing, enjoy a relaxing swim at the 5th story pool and then join friends for a snack at the 23rd floor outdoor lounge. Our transfer to the airport is waiting in the lobby at 9PM and we’re through luggage check-in and passport control by 11PM. Our midnight flight to Tokyo is on time as is our next flight to LAX and our final leg to Denver. It’s been a long, amazing and inspiring trip. Cambodia and Vietnam are some of the most interesting places we’ve been and there’s no doubt that we’ll return again.