OK, disclaimer aside, we spent 10 days in Saigon, waiting for some Visas, eating, drinking, playing games and dodging motorbikes. Actually, we were dodging, jumping, side stepping, skipping past, brushing against and pushing away various types of motorbikes for at least half of our time there. Footpaths are shortcuts, thoroughfares, parking lots and service stations for bikes in Saigon so they are no refuge. Side streets and alleys are usually quieter but certainly not a place to let your guard down!
It didn’t stop us but we did decide that most of our eating and drinking would be done within one street block of our hotel to limit road crossings. The great thing was we were close to some good restaurants and lots of hotels so we got to eat well and meet some great people!
Firstly, let me say that the above photo is not a guarantee but if you are as tight as the Welsh and want a free drink next time you are in Grafton, give it a go – just print this page, cut out the photo and don’t mention you know us!! But do give Margaret a hug and maybe pass comment on how smashing Stephen’s shoes are! They own the pub and are a great laugh and we enjoyed several chats with them, most memorably sitting in the street outside the central markets where beers are about .60 cents and the management is warm and friendly (I expect just like the Walkers Marina Hotel!!?).
As well as Margaret and Stephen we met John from Wangaratta, bringing people together, sharing his experiences and generally being a good bloke whilst relaxing in Saigon. Through John we met an English couple, Tony and Jane, who basically spend 3 months in Asia as soon as they can afford it and then go home to the UK and save again until the next opportunity comes along.
Consulate General visits in Saigon were interesting – the process for China was orderly but they wouldn’t let me submit Molly and Julia’s applications without proof that I was related – apparently the names in the passports and the fact that I have the passports aren’t clear indicators that I know these people!? And why would I get some stranger a Visa for China? They ain’t cheap!! The Russian guy in front of me had the same problem and was told he could submit the applications if they included birth certificates and marriage certificates showing his relationship to his family. He suggested that was an interesting concept but given that probably no-one at the Chinese Consul could read the Russian document he failed to see the logic of the request. No change on the policy so I raced back to get Julia and Molly as it was Friday and of course we had only 40 minutes left before the embassy closed up for the weekend!
The visit to the Russian consul lacked the logic of the Russian gentleman in front of me at the Chinese Consul – as we haven’t yet solved our Visa situation for Russia I will leave that story for another day!
Fortunately the Laos Consul was a very easy and pleasant experience, taking all of 20 minutes for all 3 Visas. Unfortunately the promise of a 90 day Visa (which we need to assist in processing our Russian Visa app in Vientiane) was a bit of an Asian “yes, yes” situation, where in fact the answer should have been “no, probably not, but who knows eh!?”.
Overall our time in Saigon was a bit lazy, spent waiting mostly for Visas but we still saw all the famous sites, played some ten-pin bowling and met some great people. We enjoyed Saigon but lamented the lack of pedestrian overpasses and wider footpaths.