I could not sleep. It is impossible to get to sleep when you go to bed at 10-11 am by your biological time. I got in the room at Tuan An Guest house around 10pm and after a shower I got in bed. It was relaxing to lay down after so many hours in the plane but I could not sleep, just relax, so at 6:00 am I was up and leaving the place with my luggage because I did not like it. It was not very clean and very expensive for nothing. I moved across the street at Ngoc Diem Hotel in a room at the fourth floor with fan for $9 or AC for $13, with nice bathroom and fridge loaded with drinks and snacks. It is clean and very nice with some kind of view no matter that I did not take advantage of it. At 7:00am I was at Kim Cafe and I booked the tour for the tunnels, had a breakfast with eggs and good crispy French bread and chocolate croissant, well there were the French here, and I bummed on the streets and called home till 8:30 when the bus was coming. Saigon is major tourist hub. I did not see so many tourists in Cambodia., but here you feel that everybody comes. Young and old, on short hauls or long time traveling guys you see all of them. The bus was full of them from all over the world: USA, Canada, England, Israel, France, Germany, Sweden to name just a few. The guide used to work for the Americans in the war as translator at a very high level, because he met several times McNamarra, during the war, and talked a lot and very sensitive about the entire conflict. He looked like he spent many years in reeducation camps after 1975, but he had a common sense and a joy of life that you can see only in few people, mainly those who pass through ordeals of this nature. Unfortunately it was not easy to understand his pronunciation.
We left to visit Gaodai temple, that is the core temple for a separate religion widespread in South Vietnam, a concoction of several religions. They accept all the religions’ patriarchs on their church with equal rights, and are based on seance sessions the core believes being established in some seance sessions from the 1920s. It was established by a mystic in the second part of the 19th century. Quite interesting and colorful, the temple being super garish, with the large symbol of the eye everywhere and lots of deities that adorn the temple like on the temples in Rajasthan. We attended the mass that is impressive, the tour arriving there at the mass time, 12:00, and I shot a lot of video from the top galleries. The main spirit/soul that keep visiting them is Victor Hugo and his spirit plays an important role in the church. From there we stop to eat, typical touristy stuff, and I met a guy from Inwood, NY, Brandon, who works for a German bank in NY in midtown and a girl from London, a Cambridge graduate, Sarah, who just quit a job with P&G to travel the world and now she got in Vietnam after 2.5 month in New Zealand and Australia and will continue to Laos , Cambodia, HK and Japan before going back to London. Another 2 months.
We arrived at the highlight of the tour, the Cu Chi tunnels, built by Vieth Minh south of Saigon to be able to penetrate the American front. I did not like the tour and the tunnels but I do understand both the propagandist aspect and the obsession with the wars that preoccupied the locals relentlessly for a long time. I got in one of the tunnels but the experience is not pleasant and I have to go down on all four to fit. They built the tunnels for the smaller Viet Minh guys, and for sure Americans did not fit inside. The networks is very large but now the entire exhibit is just thatched roof holes that show how the Viet Minh where operating inside the jungle. When we got back to the bus the trip and the lack of sleep got a toll on me and I was dozing in and out of sleep the entire way, so when I got in Saigon I was barely able to walk. Also it was a very hot day 37-38C and the only thing that I was able to do is take a quick shower in my 4th floor room and get back down to eat something. After dinner I went to an internet cafe to write in the blog but the only thing I was able to do was to answer to a Claire’s email and after that super reluctantly I got back inside the room at 8:00pm because I could not stand anymore. I got in bed and got asleep instantaneously at 8:10pm , after about 50 hours of being awake. I woke in the night around 2:00am fresh and start reading the “Sacred Willow” and waited for the day light to get in city and call home.