Day 73: Greg Smash!

Our room was very bright in the morning, which may have been the reason for me waking up at 7:30am. That or my body clock was out of sync, either way I wasn’t happy. Somehow I managed to get another hour before being rudely disturbed by the blonde nuisance beside me. We lazed around until half past nine until we finally decided to climb the stairs to get breakfast. It was a very nice meal for the start of the day, and it was a nice change to get sausages. When we returned to our room, we packed our bags and left them there. We then headed out with the intention of finding a new hotel. Before we could even leave the building the lady behind reception told us she had dorms for $8 a night. Seeing as Jamie was coming we decided to move there instead. We then had a quick look around town to get our bearings (now that it was light out) but had to return by twelve to move out of our room. When we got our bags up the three extra floors, the dorm was empty. We dropped off our bags and went to a local supermarket. Everything is cheaper in the supermarkets compared to that of the streets, so I was more than happy when it came to buying some fruit and drinks. With my new purchases in tow, the pair of us went off in search of some more bloody markets for Sarah.

On the way we stopped in a nearby coffee shop, because 1. I needed a bathroom break, and 2. We needed to use the Internet to write Jamie a message for his arrival. I also wrote to my friend from home, Greg Charlton. He too was in Vietnam for a 3 week holiday with his girlfriend. With all the tasks achieved we continued on our journey until we reached the first of 2 markets. Each one was terrible and nobody wanted to barter with the prices of their merchandise. The second market wasn’t so bad, it was called Saigon Square. Much like the last place, it sold clothes from shops back home (well, duplicates at least) as well as the occasional electronics stand, pirate DVD shop, and handbag stalls. Sarah’s only purchase was that of a Burberry handbag, but was saddened when she couldn’t by any clothes on accounts of each article only fitting the tiny Vietnamese people. During our time at the market I managed to keep myself entertained by chatting with Jamie on Facebook. By then he had arrived in Ho Chi Minh and found wifi, I then gave him directions to our hostel. We left soon after that and returned to the main strip to find somewhere to eat.

I let Sarah make the decision for where we’d eat, she settled on a place around the corner from the hostel. They sold fine Vietnamese food. The restaurant had wifi luckily, so we told Jamie where we were and asked if he wanted to join us. Due to Sarah complaining that I never eat anything other than pizza and burgers, I asked the staff which was a good option. All the while worrying they’d choose the most expensive. They recommended a good beef dish, and when it came I was delighted, the only bad ingredient was the atrocious coriander. Not long after we finished our meals Jamie came wandering in, and not long after that so did a sunglasses salesman. Sarah bought a cheap knock off pair of Ray Bans, and I couldn’t help wondering if that was the definition of a business lunch. As soon as we left the building the heavens opened. We ended up stranded at a nearby tourist shop. We were there for a few minutes while Sarah enquired about prices for different trips, then the three of us made another food stop at an ice cream store when the rain died off. With our stomachs sated for the time being, we decided to go back to our hostel to use the Internet and get in touch with our friends from Mui Ne. On the way that idea became obsolete, as our little friend Jenny came rushing across the street to say hello. We made a plan to meet at the Buffalo Bar at 7:30pm, then continued on our way.

Jamie, still being on the search for new clothes, stopped in a few stores on the way. This was lucky for me, as in one store I managed to locate a nice pair of board shorts, now that Sarah had a handbag it meant I wasn’t ladened down with all our things. The shorts were a copy of a more expensive make back home but a fifth of the price. Seeing as they were made of a thin material I snatched them up straight away. They only cost £6 equivalent, so I was extremely happy. When we finally got back to our room we met a few new people. The first guy was named Chris, he was from California originally but had been in china teaching English for a while. I could tell he was a decent fellow as he too shared a passion for comics. The other was an australian chap, i still don’t know his name. We chatted for a while before getting ready to go out and meet everyone else. We invited the new guys along as well, which was handy as they informed us of a cheap tourist shop where they booked up the Chu Chi Tunnels trip we wanted to do. So, before going to the Buffalo Bar we headed there first. The time was creeping around to half seven by that point and I was sent on ahead while Jamie and Sarah finalised the details.

I darted through the streets, doing my best to avoid the rude people who’d walk in your path without looking, until I reached the bar. The only person standing there was an Argentinian girl named Maria, we had just met her back in the room before leaving. The pair of us got a table, informing the staff more people would be coming. One by one everybody showed up and we soon filled the three tables which had been moved to accommodate us. The place was very expensive for Vietnam, costing us nearly £1.50 for a bottle of beer (I know, it’s extortionate isn’t it). In using the bars wifi I was able to send Greg a message explaining where he could find us, and 20 minutes later the big guy arrived with his girlfriend Sam. We all stayed for one drink before moving on to a restaurant our Vermelian friend Jenny recommended. I call Jenny Vermelian as she has many different roots. She was born in France, has Vietnamese parents and has been living in Australia for a while, put all three countries together and that’s the name you end up with. The reason we went to that particular place for food, you could buy a vase (yes, a vase) of alcohol for 100,000 dong, £3.

The dishes were the best yet, by the time we had finished it was around midnight. During dinner we were constantly bothered by all the pedlars trying to flog us rubbish, at one point I even had a guy attempt to massage my back. Even when I said no he still continued while laughing away. The best person to visit the table with their offerings came in the form of a fortune teller. I couldn’t help thinking, if she really could see the future why would she waste her time coming to a table that was going to say no? During the meal I mostly spoke to Greg about what to expect in Vietnam as well as what to look out for, and he in turn told me stories of his previous travels. One main thing that I couldn’t help but notice, was the sheer dimensions of Greg’s arms. He was always a big guy when we were back home, some 2 and a half months ago, but now he looked like a white Incredible Hulk. As time went by people grew tired and returned to their hotels, including Greg and Sam. The poor guys hadn’t really slept and the jet lag was beginning to catch up to them. We left the table not long after, we said goodbye to Vicky and Jenny, then returned to our hostel. Inside we had to tiptoe around to prevent waking everyone up. It was then straight to bed ready for the annoying alarm first thing bright and early at 7am.

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