This is the last instalment from our Vietnam trip and it’s taken me a while to get my head around what was an interesting last few days including the very sad death of food traveller and life journeys -Anthony Bourdain. Our food tour through Vietnam was inspired by him and we are all just so shocked as is the whole world.
We flew from Hoi An to Ho Chi Min City- or Saigon as the locals still call it on a flight that lasts just under 1 hour.
As their summer humidity and storms season has started a little early it was a little turbulent. The day is extremely hot at 11.00am a balmy 35 degrees and humidity is out of control.
The best thing about Saigon ?
The phood! Pun intended – Pho is the bomb here, the local signature dish to this city. Our local guide takes us to a cafe that serves their version of the famous pho. It’s a style of soup noodles with your choice of meat.
At Cafe Pho 2000, we had a choice of chicken or beef…. as we have been having so much pork and seafood it was a nice change! The cafe has awesome food, lovely artwork and aircon. To be honest it’s the air con we all need oh and a local beer. I love the way the meal comes fairly plain and you get to add fresh green asian herbs, the right amount of spice or fish sauce you like and the crunchiest bean sprouts ever.
Next up it’s our city tour, and what a huge city it is.
With our local guide from Wide eyed Tours, our group heads off to view the un-used Reunification Palace that is now known as the Independence Palace…… Time warp of the 60’s and the secret bunkers from the war. It’s like they just walked out and never returned…. The grounds are lovely with great views.
It was first built for the French governor, and when the war time era started – 1962 it was badly damaged and re built. When it last built, there was a bomb shelter built underneath However the then Vietnamese president was murdered by his own troops, which allegedly created bad Feng shui so it was never really used after being re built- just left for general public use.
Below in the bunkers, it’s a bit M.A.S.H-4077 meets Get Smart ! we were waiting for 99 to just appear! The bunker rooms had big doors and rooms filled with maps and telecommunications rooms etc. Of course all abandoned and left as they were.
Next it’s Notre Dame Cathedral and unfortunately we aren’t allowed inside due to repairs it’s like any other ancient beautiful church just currently boarded up, and right behind the church is the famous old post office. This area is called the Governments Quarter. Beautiful open park lands. There are lovely maps and Art Deco flooring and t now houses kitschy shops and the old phone booths are used for ATM’s.
Next up it’s the VERY one sided War Remnants Museum of Chinese and American War crimes. It’s wicked traffic and so moving. It is so one side that guides are not allowed to enter with their groups.
No Mention of the VC here – it’s an eye opener and creates lots of discussions between us and also other groups all trying to get our heads around. It’s now 10 degrees thanks to a wonderful cool breeze and with a change in the weather we head back to our hotel, a little let down with our city tour and the bizzar war remnants, beautiful parks and a city that is crazy busy and views as far as the ye can see of building that seem to roll on forever.
Our Hotel – one of the Silverland Hotels is fabulous smack bang in the middle of the city…….. actually the city is so frigging huge it’s hard to know where we are but in all honesty the tall skyscrapers from the roof of our hotel just go on and on and on…..
The hotel has an amazing restaurant that offers fabulous food including high tea every afternoon – Marvellous darling all with a sing song piano performance. The hotels are quite narrow in width with amazingly set out space, including a pool area that consist of 4 small levels so you don’t feel like you are totally on top of each other.
We enjoy a couple of quick cocktails on the rooftop as the sunsets before our special dinner tonight at an amazing restaurant called Noir-Dining in the Dark.
A totally unique experience! We arrive and are seated in a lounge area and are given a yummy welcome drink with no idea what is in it. We also choose our drinks of choice for our evening. We are then introduced to our waiter who is a deaf mute. She is absolutely gorgeous and as we know limited sign language ( I really must go home and re learn the basics again), she is quite dramatic in her miming and charades of the menu etc.
The first thing she has us do as part of helping getting our sensory of ‘no sight’ ready, is to play with a puzzle set whilst we all wear a blind fold, as technically this is how we will eat dinner. Completely in the dark.
We had approx 10 small shapes to places and then once completed she tapped you on the shoulder and gave you the thumbs up . It was not that easy as you have to get your head to help recognise the shapes as your eyes can’t.
I don’t want to spoil the rest for anyone wishing to attend this, so I’m won’t completely tell you what happens however you eat small bowls of absolutely stunning food, that are set out on a board, just like the puzzles we had done. You are completely in the dark and your senses of smell and hearing are heightened. there was probably 50 other people dining at the same time and to be really honest when they said we re here for an hour and a half we thought that isn’t long, but the experience is actually fabulous amazing and exhausting.
At the end of the meal we are escorted back to the lounge and we meet the owner of the restaurant who goes through the actual food we ate. I’d put the food up there with 5 star dining.
We head back tot the hotel for a night cap and then its lights out a tomorrow is our trip to the Mekong.