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Cyclo ride to Cholon

is it too late to buy that travel insurance?

I'm still in Saigon, and after 2 days, it feels like home. I live in the Pham Ngu Lao, or Foreign Town, where all the backpacker hotels are - a 24 hour place of commerce and hard drinking. It's crowded and not too pretty, so I was glad to get out and see more of town today. I was on my way to the docks of the Saigon River to buy my boat ticket for Tues when I was approached by a cyclo driver (Viet version of a rickshaw only with bicycle). He wanted 100,000 Dong to go to the dock, I was a little tired, so I talked him down to 70K (VN Dong @ 16,000 to the Dollar). He was a little older than most Vietnamese (52), and we got along well - his English was good - this was Thanh. After getting the ticket, and my first experience riding in this little cyclo in heavy Saigon traffic (Sunday here is almost the same as a weekday for traffic - 6 million Saigonese all seem to be on Honda scooters at the same time + a few thousand city buses + taxis), we struck a deal to tour Cholon (Chinatown) for another 150,000 Dong. Sidewalks are seldom used for walking - there is damn little room with all the commerce that goes on there, so most walk at the side of the street. It all turned out quite well, and I saw much of the town (Saigon outside of the Pham is actually very interesting and much better looking). Stopped to look at fruit sellers at the Cholon market - they pile all the fruit up in perfect pyramid shaped piles, and much of the fruit is brand new to me. Talked with a couple from Amsterdam, bought Thanh a fresh coconut juice, and sat down for a Tiger beer (Singapore) myself. On the return trip to the Pham, Thanh passed his wife selling cut fruit on the street, and grabbed a slice of ripe watermelon. I came back to my hotel for a siesta and cold shower.

Posted by Daawgon 12:29 Archived in Vietnam

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