July 14, 2005
Today we did our small tour of Saigon. This included a trip to the American War Museum. First thing we did was call our parents about 9:00 am our time, 9:00 pm their time using an Internet phone. The last time Tina was able to talk to her parents was for only two minutes the day we left Australia. I was able to chat with my parents using a web cam, headphones, a microphone and MSN Messenger when we were in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It was nice being able to call home. Our half hour limit we decided on before the calls went over an hour a piece, but it was nice to talk to our parents. Why is it you always feel more homesick after calling home?
After visiting several tourist companies to compare the prices for a bus trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, we found one for $4 a piece and this included a free breakfast. We also found out we needed two passport photos for our Cambodia Visa’s, so we headed across the street had our mug shots taken for 4000 dong.
Next, we had to go to the bank to get some US Dollars since this is the main currency used in Cambodia and there are no ATM machines in the country. It cost us a 3% charge to use the credit card and a 2% charge to use our travelers checks to get US Dollars. She tried giving us some $50 bills and since we have not used the Dollar for four months, they looked fake to us. We decided to have her give us 20’s, and 10’s instead. Also, when she gave us the money she was over a hundred dollars off on her count. Good thing we counted the money right there.
We dropped off our greenbacks at our guest house and hit the street to find a cyclo driver to take us to the American War Museum and to one of the local markets to look for souvenirs. We had to haggle for about 30 minutes but got two different cyclo drivers to drive us around for 60,000 dong each. Better than the 150,000 dong price they started at. They all try to shoot for the moon here when haggling.
The cyclo ride through the city was actually peaceful even though the streets are packed with motorbikes, cars, bicycles and other cyclos.
Our cyclo drivers waited outside for us while we visited The American War Museum. The museum was interesting to see from the point of view of the Vietnamese. They had some very strong words describing how the Americans acted during the war. They also showed many disturbing pictures of the effects of agent orange on the Vietnamese and their children. We walked out of the museum in a very somber mood and we both decided we did not want to visit the Killing Fields museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We think this is one museum every traveler should visit while in Saigon.
Next, our cyclo drivers took us a market where we wanted to find visit a specific store where the sold embroidered art pieces. We first saw these embroidered pieces on an art walk in Denver last year and the gentleman told us he got them from Vietnam. The prices were much better in Vietnam than the ones being sold in Denver so we bought one and headed back to our hotel.
We spent the rest of the night picking up some more Vietnam souvenirs and packed our bags for Cambodia.
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