Ho Chi Minh City – Day one

Well, we are finally back in HCMC and what an extraordinary time to be here. Last night the celebrations for Tet were in full flight, but we were far too exhausted to contemplate staying up late to enjoy them. We did go up onto the third floor balcony of the Hotel Continental to watch and photograph the festivities that were taking place in the square below outside the Opera House. Evidentially, sometime today a cake weighing two tons will be brought into the square. I’m not sure who is going to eat this but it will be interesting to watch. The colour and the spectacle last night was really fantastic.

There are some drawbacks to staying in a hotel as old as the Continental. (It was built by the French around about 1840). The shower is crappy, the mattress is very hard and the room air conditioner sets up a clacking noise from time to time. However, the location is ideal and, even though the hotel has seen better days, the architecture is superb. Our room is huge and the ceilings are very high. All of the doors and windows are made from polished timber, as is the furniture. We have our own small balcony overlooking the garden courtyard with its ancient Frangipani trees and quite garish furniture.  We can eat breakfast either in the restaurant or in this courtyard and I was happy to once again experience the thick rich Vietnamese black coffee.

Today we intend to take it easy and try to recover from the rigours of moving house and then the trip over here. We are both quite exhausted and looking forward to a jacuzzi followed by a massage sometime later on. This morning we went for a walk down to the Saigon river while it was still cool and watched as the city began to come alive. The colour yellow predominates everything at the moment as it has some significance for Tet. Trees that are covered in yellow blossoms have been placed everywhere and beautiful floral arrangements are all over the city. It truly is a remarkable sight. Pot plants full of fresh flowers have been placed around most of the trees in batches of different colours, and this morning not one of them had been touched. How different from what we are used to in our own society!!

My hands are getting too tired to type any more, maybe after my soothing massage I will feel more up to it. More to come soon….