Days 222, 223… Ho Chi Minh City
It’s a long journey by local bus to Ho Chi Minh City (approx 6-7 hrs) and my last trip with Jo. But we will leap across the border into Vietnam shortly for the next leg. Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is characterised by a vast array of sights and sounds, and is a fascinating blend of old and new, East and West. The huge number of people rushing about their daily lives in Vietnam’s largest city gives it a dynamic atmosphere and the French influence is evident in the excellent baguettes and coffee on offer. Much of city life takes place on the busy streets lined with shops, stalls and vendors, who have their wares spread out on the footpath and sell everything from soup to sophisticated electronics. Not to mention in this city of 14 million people, there are 7 million mopeds and motorcycles… making the roads somewhat chaotic and adventurous indeed!
After check in we all do our final adventure (mostly) together… the Cu Chi Tunnels where the Vietcong fought the allies in the infamous Vietnam War. Here we get to experience the incredible smallness of these tunnels, the devious and lethal low-tech traps they employed, and the brilliant cunning they used to overcome defeat. From upcycled tyre sandals made backwards so the your footprints faced the wrong way, to underground cooking funnelling the smoke hundreds of yards away and only in the morning to blend with the morning fogs… the ideas they employed were very clever regardless of your position on the war itself.
While there we also see a workshop where disabled employees help to create some truly beautiful works of lacquerwork art and the delicate skills used to do so. Later, after our new meeting where we say goodbye to 5 of our Team Sticky Rice (including Jo) & meeting our singular new member, 8 of us head off to Noir… a restaurant staffed by the blind or visually impaired and you eat in utter… deepest… pitch darkness. All your other senses are heightened as you experience not only how the blind live and rely on others… but experience food and drink in an entirely new way… a truly amazing and inspiring experience. After you finish, the owners show you what you ate and we guessed close… but never dead on.