We landed in Ho Chi Minh City late on our first day, so we didn’t do anything. We stayed at a hotel in the tourist district. HCMC was hot and I needed to run the AC every night. The heat and the jet lag made me not fall in love with HCMC.
On our first day we did a walking tour of old city that we found in the lonely planet. This got us to the Reunification Palace, which was one of the few museum we visited on this trip. This is the former presidential palace of South Vietnam. It’s a beautiful building, but a run in with a stalker spoiled the visit.
Let me explain.
While we were walking through the park near the palace, Spencer noticed a guy in a red shirt following us. We’ll call him Red for the rest of this tale. I didn’t think much of it as we were a block from the Reunification Palace and we had to buy tickets to get in. We went into the museum and started touring. Unbeknownst to me, but not to Spencer, Red entered behind us and followed us through the museum.
I didn’t notice the guy until we were in the bunker of the palace. Red was following us from room to room, flashing a weird smile. I mentioned it to the group and everyone but me had seen him for the last hour.
We walked outside the building (but not off the grounds) and I asked him what he wanted. He feigned knowledge of English and then said “get out of here.” We started to walk another way and he continued to follow us. We walked toward a security officer, and he went and started talking to a man in a blue shirt. While we were explaining the problem to the officer, our guy and the blue shirted guy exited the grounds.
We pointed him out to the officers, and 3 palace personnel started to follow him, but we did not stick around to hear the results. We exited the grounds and jumped in a taxi to regroup at our hotel. I’ve traveled a lot and know of crimes that happen to travelers. I acknowledge and accept the risks, but this made me nervous. The guy was a total creep.
We had lunch at the Ben Thanh market then went to check out the Vietnam History Museum. It’s a great museum that walks you through ancient Vietnam to the present day. It made me dig deep for some of my religious studies studies training. Lingas? Yonis? It’s been 15 years since I thought about those things. It made we want to flip through my old text book on this stuff.
We exited the museum to go to the Botanical Gardens and Zoo. Holly and I called it “Rat Park” after we saw at least 2 rats roaming the grounds. I do not like zoos and I did not like this one. Samer enjoyed seeing the white tiger, but rats+heat+imprisoned animals made we want to get out of there. It was a rough day for me.
HCMC has a pretty big rooftop bar scene, so we checked out 2 different ones for evening drinks. It’s a great way to get away from the heat and enjoy the lights of the city. Sky bar was very hip with terrible drinks, but the view was amazing. The rooftop of the Majestic was much quieter, but they made great drinks. We ended the night at a pretty cool micro-brewery near our hotel.