Day two saw us getting in a little bit of culture. We went to the Reunification Palace (Independence Palace) and the war remnants museum. In addition to checking out the city in the daytime and trying some local cuisine. I’m still boggled by the number of scooters here, intersections are hilarious.
As for the palace it “was designed by architect Ngô Viết Thụ and was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during theVietnam War. It was the site of the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates.” Wikipedia
I didn’t find the architecture or interior design of the palace appealing (it felt rather communist block style) but it was interesting to see the opulence of it and recognize that while the country was in the midst of a horrific war, one side was living in such luxury.
The next stop after the palace was the war remnants museum. I struggled there seeing the photo displays of birth defects from agent orange, war crimes and US service men in country. I’m saddened that wars continue to happen around the world despite the fact that they rarely seem to have any positive outcomes.
At one point in the afternoon I had the “opportunity” to try birds nest drink.
Edible bird’s nests are bird nests created by edible-nest swiftlets using solidified saliva, which are harvested for human consumption. They are particularly prized in Chinese culture due to their rarity, and supposedly high nutritional value and exquisite flavor. Edible bird’s nests are among the most expensive animal products consumed by humans, with nests being sold recently at prices up to about US$2,000 per kilogram, depending on grading.
The texture was slippery with chunks, I choked down a big mouthful of it and can add it to the list of things I have tried. It’s certainly not going on the favorites list.
Lunch was Vietnamese Pho (pronounced fu) which is a broth based soup with lots of greens, spices and chunks of meat. Dinner had us at a restaurant where the cooking is modeled after local home cooking. Prices here are unbelievable but the currency is loaded with zeros so doing the exchange math is a bit funny. Our dinner for six, consisting of huge amounts of food, a cocktail or glass of wine (or two) for each person plus a few bottles of local rice wine came to 3,500,000 dong…or about $23 USD per person!
Following dinner was a nightclub called Republic. We split into two taxis and my group ended up at the wrong club named Republic…we got it sorted and found out upon arriving at the correct one that we were initially at the largest gay club in the city. It was a good laugh. The club included just about everything, drinks, shisha, fresh fruit and whippets.
We even squeezed a bit of tourist shopping into the day!