Sunday, November 15, 2009

Just a Good Stretch of the Legs- Saigon Part 4

The Vanilla Gorilla and I took a page out of the Lonely Planet guidebook and took a walking tour of Saigon.  It starts off at Pham Ngu Lao park which is right on the border of the backpacker area and ends at the Jade  Emperor Pagoda, which is situated in the heart of urban, non-touristy Saigon.  The tour altogether is about 5km, but with the heat and all the sights it'll feel about double that.  The first real stop on the tour is Ben Thanh Market, which includes everything from live fish to every type of clothing one might want to buy.  From there you pass a statue of Tran Nguyen Hai, who from what I can look up is famous for being the first person in Vietnam to use carrier pigeons.  I could be wrong.  Then its off to the Fine Arts Museum which besides having a lot of contemporary art inspired by the war, has a nice collection of medieval art from Vietnam.  Afterwards we walked through the open air street market, which is filled with little shops serving food, fresh vegetables, and beer.  We walked by the Municipal Theatre and on to the Museum of Ho Chi Minh City.  After lunch we saw the War Remnants Museum, which was formerly the Museum of American War Atrocities.  I will comment on this in my final entry on Saigon.  We went to the Reunification Palace, and the brick Cathedral of Notre Dame;we didn't go inside either of them.  We quickly saw the old central post office, which is in the French colonial style.  We took a chance to explore the Botanical Gardens/Zoo in Saigon.  After some walking we finished at the Jade Emperor Pagoda which is tucked away in some unassuming back alley.  That was pretty much our walking tour of Saigon.

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