Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ho Chi Minh City 1 Orientation (1/1/2013)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Happy New Year! This morning we arrived in My Tho, the Mekong River port close to Ho Chi Minh City.
Here is the Rach Mieu Bridge (completed 2008), one of the few bridges to cross the Mekong:
We are leaving the RV Indochina, and going by motorcoach to Ho Chi Minh City. Ho Chi Minh City is now the official name of what was Saigon. However, the inhabitants still call it Saigon. I will stick to Ho Chi Minh City for the blog.
Thien checks our luggage before they take off in a truck:
The freeway to Ho Chi Minh City is not free:
The custom is to bury family on your land, specifically in the rice fields:
Arriving in Ho Chi Minh City, we passed the statue of 14th century General Tran Nguyen Hai:
Checked into the Sofitel Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon Plaza Hotel, with its lobby Christmas tree:
By 10:00 we were off on a tour. First stop was the square in front of the People's Committee Hall, with a statue of Ho Chi Minh, who they call Uncle Ho:
The People's Committee Hall is the former City Hall:
Completed in 1908 in French colonial style.
This is a pruned jasmine:
On the west side of the square is the Rex Hotel with its rooftop garden:
Built in 1927 as an auto dealership. It was renovated as a hotel beginning in 1959.
On the east side of the square, facing another square on its south side is the Vincom Center A, decorated for Christmas:
This second square faces the Opera House:
A photo exhibit on the Vietnam military:
The oldest rickshaw driver in Ho Chi Minh City:
The Opera House:
Completed in 1911 and modeled after Opéra Garnier in Paris with a facade like the Petit Palais.
To the south of the Opera House is the Caravelle Hotel:
The original 10-story section opened in 1959, and it was designed by Vietnamese architect Nguyen Van Hoa. The hotel was home to the Saigon bureaus of NBC, ABC and CBS during the Vietnam War.
On the north side of the Opera House is the Hotel Continental:
 Built in 1880, it was featured in the movies "The Quiet American" and "Indochine."
The motorcoaches took us to Chinatown to see the Chùa Bà Thiên Hậu/Temple of the Sea Goddess:
Detailed porcelain decoration along the roofline:
Unique spiral incense coils:
There are three figures of Lady Thiên Hậu; one can be carried in processions:
It seems the Chinese temples are even more ornate when built abroad.
Quote from the wrapper of the moist towel:
Our next stop was Chợ Bến Thành, the market:
Lots of silk clothing:
Piles of sandals:
Bejeweled trinkets:
Oh, my! Faberge eggs:
Dried beans and things:
Velvet and bling ponytail scrunchies:
Sea cucumbers:
The luncheonette:
Colorful wallets:
Patterned scarves:
Vietnam Coffee t-shirt:
There were even portable stalls, for wallets:
Bobblehead animals:
Family scooter:
Our group all agreed to go to lunch at the famous Phở Hòa Restaurant for phở noodles:
If you are not using the proper intonation of phở, you may be ordering something entirely different.
Next, Cu Chi Tunnels.

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