Today was my 61st birthday. Travel-wise, we didn’t see a great deal, but the day was made special in other ways. It began on the previous evening when our guide in central Vietnam, Trieu, presented me with a gift from the travel company representing health, prosperity and happiness. When I got back to my room, there was a card, a bunch of flowers and a birthday cake waiting for me – a gift from the resort.
When I woke on my birthday there were cards from Marg and my two daughters – such a great surprise. It made me think so much of home that I rang them both later in the day and the phone chat we had was definitely my highlight of the day. I also rang my Mum because I knew she would be thinking of me on my birthday.
In the morning our driver picked us up and drove us to DaNang Airport. We caught a Vietnam Airlines flight down to Ho Chi Minh City, still referred to by many as Saigon. The name was changed in 1976 after Ho Chi Minh’s army from the north defeated the government in the sourth and the country was reunified.
In Ho Chi Minh City, the first thing that got us talking was the traffic. It was far more chaotic than what we had seen in Hanoi, where we could cross the road successfully with some trepidation. In HCMC we did not even try. We set out in the afternoon for a stroll around the city from our hotel, but crossing the road at any point appeared so perilous, that we just kept walking around the block without crossing any roads until we arrived back where we started from. As the temperature was in the mid-30s and the humidity was high, we decided we had walked far enough anyway and promptly returned to the air conditioned hotel. Our view from our rooms on the 20th floor was quite spectacular.
That evening I answered a knock on the door to receive another birthday cake – this one, a gift from the current hotel.