Ho Chi Minh City Street Life


Ho Chi Minh Street Scenes

On our second day here we are really getting to know the lie of the land and are finding our feet.

After another excellent breakfast, we headed up to the main undercover markets where we had seen a good looking espresso place the day before. At Phuc Long tea and coffee house we ordered a couple of excellent espresso/espressi (15,000d/$1 each) and water, and enjoyed it so much we had the same again.

Wandering past the busy. busy, busy Saigon Bus station, we came across a great collection of people and the very sorry, very burnt remains of a scooter. A little further along was the tell tale signs of a street market in the making, and we diverted as rows of tarpaulin covered stalls set up their stands of fruit, vegetables, hunks of meat, baskets of pippies and shellfish and a dazzling away of miscellaneous dry goods. We were getting pretty excited.

As we came to the end of the street and made our way back, the start of street food stands were being set up in the narrow gap between the shop fronts and the back of the stalls, creating a labyrinthine alley of tiny plastic stools and battered tables for a range of noodle soups and other treats. We knew where we were going to have lunch!

Backtracking through the street market, we joined the main drag again and made our way down to the river. There was much construction work going on, so one could only walk along the riverfront for a short distance, but at a main junction we came to a small area of bonsai and heavily pruned potted trees.

{to be continued}

Good Evening, Vietnam


OK, so I know that it's clichéd, but what else is a girl to do?

Sorry to post a truncated blog last night, but it was very late by the time we got in to the hotel, and finding I had WiFi access, I thought that I should post now, as tomorrow I may sleep. Bob did a magnificent job in getting our taxi to the city soon after clearing customs, and the hotel, although in a touristy area, is very good and central.

This morning, we woke relatively early and headed down to breakfast in the foyer where a crowd of locals and tourists were tucking in to their choice of bacon and eggs, omelettes in various guises, and beef or chicken noodle soup, with french bread and fresh fruit. I opted for the light soup (good choice, Carolyne), while Bob chose the Tomato Omelette.

This was included in our room rate.

We then headed off on foot to do some errands and exploring. The temperature was around 30 when we stepped outside before 9:00am, and while Bob's Gamin found the satellites readily, mine took somewhat longer. We found an excellent bookshop around 2 blocks away, and restricted ourselves on this occasion to a map of HCMC (8,500D/60c). We came across an office for Vietnam airlines which took us to the next item on our To Do list. We took a ticket and waited for our time to come up in air conditioned comfort, where we confirmed our onward flight to Ha Noi on Saturday, and that we only required the e-ticket. We also got some prices for some flights from Ha Noi to Dien Bien Phu (830,000D/AUD$55), Siem Riep (3,716,000/AUD$250) and Dalat (1,680,000D/AUD$112).

The search for espresso coffee and mobile phone cards was then on with some earnest intent. This led us to the markets, where we found a few 'fancy' looking places for espresso, however the 29,000 Dong ($2) price seemed excessive to us and we kept looking.

We went inside an interesting oasis ("The Blue Cafe") where one walked on stepping stones set in loose river pebbles across the floor in icy air conditioning. Service was attentive, although we were discover that they did not have espresso, and reluctantly did not stay for there was a table of two men smoking which upset the ambience. We did find a local place on another corner and ordered espresso (15,000D/$1), although are quite unsure of what we actually drank. It certainly had some sweetened condensed milk added to it (Ca Phe Da - Black Coffee - is what we must order in future), but it was a wonderfully vibrant and busy place with friendly service by a 13 year old (best estimate), endless iced tea and spirited games of checkers at nearby tables. We enjoyed the atmosphere and it picked us up before we searched a collection of holes in the wall selling phone cards for one by the Vina phone company.

We eventually found a seller, and set up our phones.

Bob's number is: +84 1234 98 15 62

and Carolyne's: +84 1234 98 15 60

This left us free to wander the smells and sights of the early lunchtime hubbub of the central markets where we found stall selling soda water (10,000D/75c). This picked us up, and we went in search of parks and alleys where we might find good local food.

We found both, and Bob had his cheeks pinched by an enthusiastic woman in the park to boot! We found a popular local place and had rice, spicy fish and chinese green vegetable. We had to convince the owner that despite being westerners we didn't want fried rice (everyone else was eating boiled). It was incrediably delicious, although we didn't leave our battered stainless steel table in anything like the condition that everyone else did.

I was starting to tire rapidly so we headed back to the hotel. In the words of someone famous (Robert Harlow, Port Macquarie Public School c.1955, "What I did on my holidays") - Tired, but Happy.


Well, we’ve made it this far, and so far, so good.

Everything went relatively smoothly this morning doing the airport shuffle – driving out and checking in with our overweight luggage in our Subaru, before driving home and tidying up the house a bit at the last minute while waiting for the wonderful Rad to come and take us out to the airport in his (littiler) car.

We weren’t charged for the extra luggage, and the only hassle was having to remove the contents of my daypack (ha! Daypack? It’s more than enough for an eight week trip on it’s own and weighs a ton – probably around 15kgs), when going through the screening as the various electronic and camera equipment were packed so closely the X_Ray machine couldn’t determine what bomb was what.

For some unknown reason, we had to check in again in Sydney, and by the time we were stuck at the end of the Customs line, tried to squash the cameras, lenses, radios, binoculars,multiple GPS devices and heart rate monitors, adaptor plugs, chargers, phone and computer accessories into a space that had definitely shrunk since it went through the scanner on each occasion.

We didn’t even have time to get up to Qantas Club at the international terminal this time, and managed to look strong and as though “our bags aren’t heavy, it’s just my handbag” as we smuggled on board three computers and enough electronica to power a Pacific Island nation for a year.

No problema. Phew!

Thankfully, the flight had an unusual number of vacant seats for today’s international flights, so whilst far from empty, we were each able to stretch out to have a couple of seats each.

This is (almost) my first time on a budget airline, and I must admit, I’m not impressed. While we did take a Thai Air Asia flight between Hanoi and Bangkok in 2006 ($25 buckeroonies each), it was great for the 2 hour flight, and food, drinks and ‘comfort’ items like blankets and pillows weren’t an issue. Even a short time into this journey, I am finding that I really miss the little things that make such a difference. It is an interesting experience, and the staff are helpful and distractingly beautiful, but I certainly wouldn’t rush to use them in future, certainly not for international travel (surely NZ doesn’t really count as international though does it? I digress).

We are both feeling more comfortable, although still have to negotiate the airport with the unwieldy bike box and diving bag, backpacks and computers to find a taxi big enough which won’t rip us off on the journey into Central Ho Chi Minh City. After Budapest I'm a tad weary for the first time in my life about such things.

This Blog shall resume shortly . . . .


I have been slack, but I have also been quite unwell.

Despite this, Thunderbirds are Go! for the planned departure of Bob and Carolyne to Ha Noi tomorrow morning via Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) for a couple of days. We plan to get an apartment in Ha Noi for three months as soon as we arrive, and while I am a little nervous of how easy this will be for such a period, especially at a reasonable rental, in a non-ex pat building and in a central area of the old city, I'm sure that it will all work out in the end! (Or so Bob assures me).

Once settled in Ha Noi, I plan to get well ~ the delicious northern hemisphere heat and humidity will almost certainly help, as will a diet of spicy Pho and Vietnamese street food. It will be a bit stressful until we are on the plane from Sydney, as we had been counting on using our Qantas Club weight limit of 30kgs each. However, having made the silly mistake of booking through to HCMC on JetStar we are limited to 40kgs between us. This wouldn't be a problem if it weren't for the dual weighty items we are taking including Bob's Mountain Bike and accessories (around 21kgs boxed), and nearly four months supply of my medical requirements - whilst individually not especially heavy, the sheer volume is mind bogling, and certainly adds up to a fair weight.

Add in a few long trip essentials such as a shortwave radio, binoculars, DSLR and lenses, laptop computers and headsets for Skype (you've gotta love Skype), we are flying close to the wire and our hand luggage will be very weighed down.

So ~ Please check back from around Thursday (I'm not sure about internet access in HCMC and am still sleeping around 16 hours a day, and feeling pretty poorly) for the South East Asia Travel Blog (part ii). It should be rather interesting, and we plan to make trips into Southern China (maybe Tibet?), Cambodia and hopefully Burma while we are there, as well as exploring more fully the Northern Vietnamese regions.

Most of all, I want to be part of the Ha Noi streetscape, find excellent places for Coffee, and be a regular part of the milling throngs in their pyjamas, plimsoles and walking frames around Hoam Kiem Lake in the cool of the morning as the City to Surf size crowd walk, jog, do Tai Chi, Aerobics, play Badminton, lift weights and enjoy being active to whatever level of their capacity.

Bon Voyage!

News of my health were slightly exagerated.


Countdown to Vietnam: 10 Days to go.


So the sinus infection is continuing apace and yet another antibiotic regime is called for. There are good (half) days and bad days, but my GP, Bob and I all agree that the heat and humidity will only help.

I thought that it was already a bit excessive that I had been the the doctor twice this week and spent around $370 at the chemist for medications and vaccines. Aahh - vaccines, or the oral cholera vaccine Dukoral, in particular. Easy to take; add buffering solution to glass of water, add 3ml vial of guff, stir, drink. Not at all unpleasant.

Four hours later I found that I was really sore under my right arm. Ouch! This got worse and worse as the evning wore on, and I thought that I could feel a now not-inconsiderable lump.
[Must be just imagining it]
My glands under my jaw and groin also seemed tender, but I thought that I was really making a mountain out of a molehill and my imagination was starting to run away with me. When I went to bed at night though, it did seem that there was a long lump the size of a small fist under my right arm. It hurt - a lot - and I made sure that Bob checked it to confirm that I wasn't going completely gaga.

On this occasion I wasn't.

It took a while to sleep and with considerable discomfort; some stronger painkillers helped to calm the thoughts that I perhaps should have to go to the doctor tomorrow, and knowing what a hassle it is when something flairs up on the weekend.

In the morning, although still painful, the lump had greatly reduced in size. I had to decide whether to attempt to join the 8:30am lottery for a same day appointment with my doctor quickly - knowing that it would likely disappear by the time I saw him, with my complicated medical history saying that it happened three weeks later isn't of much value.

I got in at 2:30pm, and felt really shocking. I was later to discover that the Dukoral had most likely caused me a dramatic immune response (yay, an over active auto immune system comes into it own again), and that, while typically the lump was almost invisible to me by the time my appointment came around, general poking and prodding revealed significant systemic lymphatic system infection. We agreed on watchful waiting and see what happens when I take the second dose in a weeks time.

I slept most of the afternoon, feeling generally unwell with aches and pains and a huge headache and nausea.

So - no Customs today! Maybe, next week?

Has it really been that long?


Yes, I'm slack.

But I am alive, and Bob has returned from the wilds of the Himalayas in one piece and without too much weight loss.

He developed a cold, and has kindly passed it on to me and a few others. Coupled with having to prepare dinner for a hungry yeti rather keen to eat something other than daahl and rice I have barley had the energy to do anything else.

I also had to discuss with Bob the prospects of me travelling with him to Hanoi on our planned three and a bit month trip to Vietnam. We have come down on the side of deciding that the hot, humid weather of a Vietnamese wet season will probably do me the world of good, and if I'm going to be lying around home not doing too much, I may as well do it over there.

So, the principle of the decision out of the way, all that is left is the rapidly approaching countdown, and the guilt inducing rush of getting things 'ready' in time. Guilt, as I find that I am still not able to do much at all.

Que Sera Sera. It will happen.

Click for Hanoi, Viet Nam Forecast

About me

  • I'm Carolyne
  • From Canberra, Australia
  • I love to run! Staying in Weymouth, Dorset on the South West Coast of England until October. I'm 46, live in Canberra with Bob and have been running since 1990. This has been interrupted by long periods of illness, however I am extremely stubborn! I'll never be a fast runner, however I give it everything, and am slowly learning to read my body better and adjust my training and expectations accordingly. Or rather I would, if running were possible at the moment - I will retuyrn soon.
  • My profile

  • <>Vietname vs Brazil Olympic Football Friendly 8PM 1 aAugust 2008
  • A Hot time in the Old Town tonight
  • <>Trip to Nha Trang and Da Lat 4 August to  August 2008
  • Flights Booked
  • <>Scooter Trip to Ninh Binh  aAugust 2008
  • Planned
  • <>Trip to Cambodia and Siem Riep 17 August to 24 August 2008
  • Flights Booked & 2 Nights accomodation

  • Long Course Tri 2k/83k/20k 12 February 2006
  • Sri Chinmoy Long Course Tri 2.2k/80k/20k 6 March
  • Backpacking Laos & Vietnam 14 March to 26 April 2006
  • Thailand Temple Run 21k 19 March 2006

  • Customs 5k Fridays
  • BBQ Stakes  6k Wednesdays
  • Tour de Mountain 19k 18 December
  • 1:55:02 Results
  • Cross Country Summer Series 5k Tuesdays in November
  • Cool Runners Six Foot Track Slow Jog/Walk 46k 25-27 November
  • Wonderful!!
  • Sri Chimnoy Triple Tri Relay 20 November
  • 1:55:38 1:04:53 1:22:55 Results Report Photos
  • Tour de Femme 20k Fun Ride 13 November
  • 40:40ish
  • Bonshaw Cup 6.4k 16 November
  • 30:30ish
  • Hartley Lifecare Fun Run 5k 17 November
  • Belconnen Fun Run 6k 12 November
  • 28:38ish
  • Mt Majura Vineyard Two Peaks Classic 26k 5 November
  • Last! 3:08:00 Results Report
  • Wagga Tri-ants Duathlon 10k/40k/5k 30 October
  • Scratching
  • Bulls Head Challenge 27k 23 October
  • 2:20:49 Results
  • Weston Creek Fun Run 6k 16 October
  • 32:02 Results Results
  • Fitzroy Falls 42k & 10k 15 October
  • Results
  • Orroral Valley 20k 9 October
  • 1:52:44 Results
  • Sri Chinmoy 10k 3 October
  • 0:50:14 Results
  • Duathlon Championships 10k/40k/5k 23 September
  • 3:09:07 Results
  • Canberra Times 10k 18 September
  • 0:45:30 CR TE AM!
  • Sydney Marathon 11 September 3:47:13
  • ACTVAC Half Marathon 21.1k 28 August
  • Entered DNS
  • Black Mtn UpDown GutBuster 5.2k 16 August 0:33:38
  • Results
  • Mt Wilson to Bilpin Bush Run 35k 20 August 3:15:14
  • Results
  • City to Surf 14k 14 August 64:17
  • Bush Capital Mtn Runs 25k 30 July  
  • 2:17:09 Results
  • Shoalhaven King of the Mtn 32k 17 July
  • 2:53:15 Results
  • Sri Chinmoy Off Road Duathlon 3.3k/23k/7.7k 2 July 2:40:29
  • Results
  • Woodford to Glenbrook  25k 26 June DNF Injured Results
  • Terry Fox 10k 19 June 46:59
  • Results
  • Aust Mtn Running Champs9k 18 June 1:06:33
  • Results
  • ACTVAC Monthly Handicap 9k Farrer Ridge 29 May 0:46:05
  • ACT Mtn Running Champs  9k 28 May 1:06:50
  • Results
  • SMH Half Marathon 22 May 1:41:56 (1:40:50)
  • Results
  • ABS Fun Run 7.3k 19 May 0:34:45
  • Results
  • Canberra Half Marathon 15 May injured Results
  • Sri Chimnoy 10k 8 May 0:47:55
  • Results
  • Nail Can Hill Run  1 May 56:23
  • Results
  • Newcastle Duathlon  24 April 2:45:39.2
  • Results
  • Canberra Marathon  10 April 3:47:56
  • Results
  • Women & Girls 5k 3 April 22:53
  • Results
  • Sri Chimnoy 10k 28 March 47:56
  • Results
  • Weston Creek Half Marathon 13 March 1:43:23
  • Results
  • Sri Chimnoy Long Course Tri 6 March 5:30:35
  • Results
  • Hobart International Triathlon 20 February 2:52:05

  • Canberra Capital Triathlon 30 January 3:01:43
  • Results
  • Medibank Private Australia Day8k 26 January 38:39
  • Results
  • Lorne Pier to Pub Swim 1.2k 8 January 22:12
  • Results
  • Lorne Mountain to Surf 8k 7 January 0:37.56
  • Results

    moon phases

  • 5k 20:11 Cairns 2000
  • 10k 43:49 Moruya
  • City to Surf 1:02:57 2000
  • Half Marathon 1:33:50 Steamboat 2000
  • Marathon 3:47:56 Canberra 2005
    Chip Time (3:47:13) Sydney 2005

  • Kilometres Run
    January 212
    February 199
    March 214
    April 201
    May 188
    June 182
    July 255
    August 246
    September 155
    October 159
    November 200
    December 62
    Year to Date 2,267

    Last posts

  • New Blog Address
  • After having been largely blocked from posting on ...
  • Back in Canberra, Blogging Service (hopefully) Res...
  • Kama, Krama, Kramar Chameleon
  • Restaurant Review - Siem Reab
  • Back from Angkor Wat
  • Update
  • Notes from a Rainy Da Lat
  • Overnight Scoot to Tam Dao Hill Station
  • Viet Nam Plans

  • Days Sick
    January 10
    February 10
    March 10
    April 4
    May 7
    June 8
    July 9
    August 11
    September 11
    October 11
    November 9
    December Lots. ?15

    Distance Swum
    February 17,400m
    October 3,800m
    November 4,150m
    December .
    Distance Cycled
    November 120km
    December 297 km