Blog

Who Saw Warsaw Coming?

Apart from that little long weekend in Singapore all the way back in February, I have only one trip planned for this year. But it’s a big one. Five weeks, yes five weeks, in Poland.  Well, mostly Warsaw.

IN THE SAME COUNTRY! I know right!

You know me, I usually like to tick off 5 or 6 countries when I visit Europe.  That way, it makes the super long flight worth it.  But this travel thing is about evolving.  And although I love getting to as many places as possible, on recent trips I’ve found myself really wishing I’d had more time in each place.

Well, this trip I’m giving myself plenty of time.  And with good reason because I am heading back to Warsaw, home of my paternal lineage.  It’s gonna be a kind of root finding exercise.  I will be searching for family birthplaces, possible new relatives and my lost pierogi-consuming, mushroom-picking, vodka-drinking heritage.

Dad’s family were part of a relatively unknown page of WWII history.  I say unknown, because many of the survivors were told never to discuss it.  They were ashamed to do so, just wanted to forget it or, even sadder, just didn’t think anyone would be interested.  I’ve done a lot of research into this period of history over the last few years and never realised the struggles my family faced.  Those who are interested are welcome to read about my geneology search at my website Looking for the Lukasiks.  For those who are not so interested, here’s a brief wrap up; because it forms the basis of so much of what this trip will be about for me.

World War II broke out in Gdansk on 1 September 1939 when the Germans swept into Poland from the West. The Russians swept in from the East on 17 September and deported the Poles living there to Siberia.  This area was named ‘Kresy‘, or borderlands.  Many thousands died and those who survived, spent the next decade, displaced and wandering the world, looking for shelter and safety.  New lives were created in new countries after the war; a new Polish diaspora.

I am lucky that the majority of my family survived, unlike others.  But I never really knew their story until recently.

My wishes for this trip?  That I can piece together a clearer picture of who my family was, gain a deeper understanding of my heritage and what it means to be Polish.

From what I’ve seen on social media, things have changed in Warsaw since my last visit.  I’ve been watching this city come alive with keen interest and looking back on the words I wrote after my last trip to Warsaw:

Warsaw – what can I say – I read recently that you have a face that only a mother can love. And it’s true. I know you want to open up, but I don’t think you can just yet. I’ll give you time and see how you go, but you are brave and you are a fighter and you have a fantabulous history that the world is waiting to hear about.

I’d say the buzz that was just starting when I visited in 2014 is now blooming and I can’t wait to check it out!  Let the count down begin.

The Sound of Music

I LOVE music.  Love, love, love.  Everything that goes through my head is accompanied by a song of some kind.  It’s like the soundtrack to life and a song can COMPLETELY change my mood.  Like last night.  I had a really shit week at work this week.  I mean really shit.  I even left work in tears one evening.  So I was going to come home and spend my Friday night getting in an early one to start the weekend right.  But I felt like crap.  I was tired, too tired to cook and definitely too tired to resist picking up a bottle of wine (ok, maybe it was two bottles….)

Bottle shopping done, I flicked on my iPad to listen to some new tunes I had downloaded onto my iPod over the weekend and hit play.  What the actual hell?  This shit was awesome!!!  Really awesome.  I mean, it had to be to actually pull me out of the mood I was in.

I got home, threw myself on the couch and flicked the bluetooth button on my Bose speakers to stream the incredible sounds from my iPod through to the rest of the house.  Instantly my bad mood did a backflip and I felt much, much better.  What was so good about them?  I mean, it’s not like I could understand any of the lyrics.

So what were these mystical tunes that turned my week around?  These lyrics I couldn’t understand?  The awesomeness that is Polish hip-hop.

Yep, Polish.  You might think that’s taking my destination research a little far, but I am Polish and my upcoming visit to Poland spurred me on to learn a bit more about the music scene.  So who have I been listening to?  Heavy bass, sophisticated, sexy beats –  little moody (but I love that) and some good looking Polish guys.  What’s not to like?  It’s based on the Toronto sound (think Drake).  Ok, there’s still the hot chicks, lavish lifestyle shots and fancy cars (though it’s Poland remember, so it’s old school beemers and sports cars direct from the 1980’s) but there’s a sensitivity to these tunes that I haven’t heard before.  Warsaw’s history feels like its written all over its face.

Let me introduce you to Taco Hemingway, Quebonafide, PlanBe and a few of the guys….

Taco – great hair, which carries on from his head down to his eyebrows and moustache.  Suave.  Excellent rapper, and you’ll always remember his voice.  Love 6zer where he grooves away with whisky in hand, without seemingly losing a drop.  This was the first song of his I heard and I loved it straight away simply because it featured my favourite Polish words “bardzo prosze”.

Quebonafide – ok’s, he’s diff.  Coloured hair, gold grillz, tatts galore (neck, fingers, eyelids, inside mouth), pokes his tongue out every five minutes, maniacal glint in his eye, but if you look through all that…. Que’s songs are madness, especially his travel rap stuff.  Beautiful clips from his world travels mixed with social comment.  He does loads of collabs, so check out his stuff with Planbe and Taco (at least).

Planbe – my favourite (such a lovely face, with quite possibly the nicest nose I’ve ever seen on a man).  I’m obsessed with the way his hands move when he raps.  His music is tinged with a touch of sadness and longing and he has probably the best voice of all the Polish rappers I’ve heard so far.  Plus he comes from a part of Poland not too far away from where my step-grandfather lived.  If I can’t catch a Planbe gig while I’m in Poland, I’ll die….

Bedoes – ok, he doesn’t have the smooth, cool raptones of the others, but there’s something quirky about him.  Boy can he roll his tongue.

Otsochodzi – he’s like a rich schoolboy, chillin in his dad’s mansion, with never a care in life.  You know the type, looks like Sam Prince from Made in Chelsea, best friends with everyone (before the whole Tiff Watson episode obvs).  I don’t actually know any of this about him, it’s the vibe I get.  He has an interesting rap style, full of sounds and cheek rather than vocal substance, but that makes his stuff catchy and playful.  Whimsical even  #Facepalm.

Thank god for Youtube, cause I’d currently be racking up one hell of a bill on downloading all this music (not that I won’t be doing that before I get to Poland, but I am TRYING to save right now….)

It got me thinking how amazing it is, that no matter the language, music is one of those things that really has no barriers.  It doesn’t matter that you don’t understand the lyrics, it’s the emotion it stirs up inside you, the way it makes you feel and groove.  The way it can change your mood in an instant.  These artists have reeled me right in and I’m loving exploring all their tunes.  Needless to say, it ended up being a long night last night, but in a really awesome way.

As I mentioned, these guys do loads of collabs, so it makes it really easy to get caught in Polish hiphop Youtube spirals all night long, checking out new artists.

Move over Kpop, there’s some new kids in town….

Changi Beach Vibes

I’ve been saying forever that I want to explore Singapore’s Changi area more.  And yet it’s somewhere I’ve still not seemed to reach.  Until now.  A ten to fifteen minute cab ride from Changi Airport, you find a very different side of Singapore.  A welcome distraction from the glitz of Orchard Road or the overpriced drinks of the Quays.  I almost feel reluctant to tell you about it.  It’s Changi Beach.

Tapping my EZLink card on the POS machine to pay for my fare (so handy), I hop out of the cab.  I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect upon arriving here, so I’m not sure where to head first.  The waterfront seems like a good idea.  A wooden boardwalk overlooks a jumble of boats, gently bobbing with the tide.  This is Changi Point Ferry Terminal and these boats will willingly whisk you away to Pulau Ubin (which I STILL haven’t made it to…).  All you have to do is wait til there’s enough people to fill the boat.  It’s a couple of bucks per ride, plus a little more if you are taking a bike with you, and the boats hold twelve people.  It’s all cash operated and there are no set departure times.

Ferry Terminal
Ferry Terminal
Idyllic
Idyllic

Alongside the terminal, is the Changi Point Coastal Walk, an easy 2.2km scenic walk.  Opposite the terminal, a small concrete bridge leads you to Changi Beach Park.  Here you’ll find a massive hand pointing to the sky (no idea what that’s about) and the site of the Changi Beach Massacre.  This place is relaxing and there are people dotted across the shoreline, enjoying each others company, fishing or just strolling.

Changi Beach Sculpture
Which way?
Changi Beach Massacre Plaque
Changi Beach Massacre Plaque

But if you aren’t heading out to Pulau Ubin (PU), or looking to chill along the beach, there’s plenty of places to eat.  It was hard to decide where to head for really.  The beachfront grill with the cool live tunes?  Or one of the no-doubt awesome local eateries which line the village or back up the road to the very retro Coastal Settlement?  But the afternoon heat was rolling in and as I lifted my sunnies to wipe away the sweat, one word caught my eye.  “Brewing”.  This word belonged to the Little Island Brewing Company and once I’d spotted that word, there was no turning back.

At LIBC, you purchase a card and top it up with cash and then you are ready to tap and drink from a range of local brews.

Little Island Brewing Co. Drinks Card
Little Island Brewing Co. Drinks Card

They also have a fair sized menu and lots of space to chill. And the beer is pretty damn good!

LIBC Brew
LIBC Brew

It’s definitely a place I’d love to come back to; perhaps next time I’ll be boarding one of those boats for my illusive PU trip!

Challenging the Norm About Pricey Singapore

Whenever I go to Singapore (haha, like ALL the time), people say to me “but Singapore’s so expensive!”.  I always answer like this:

Well, Number 1 – I come from Perth, so it doesn’t seem that expensive to me, about the same prices but with loads more choice, culture, art and things to do.

And Number 2 – You can actually make it as expensive or inexpensive as you like.  As long as you embrace the Singapore that is hiding away from glitzy Orchard Road.

Writing this article, I guessed it was time to put my money where my mouth is and given my current (un)employment situation, I am doing Singapore on the cheap.  Wanna know more?  Read on!

First things first – arrival.  Usually when I reach Changi Airport, I grab a cab to my hotel, which costs around SGD$25-30 (around the same cost in AUD).  However, given my tight budget this time around, I decided to make use of the new MRT line that runs from the airport into the city.  It’s not the most fuss free journey as you do have to stop at Tanah Merah and change lines, however for a couple of bucks, it suits me fine.

Next, where to stay in Singapore that won’t break the bank?

I scored a great deal and am paying just $12 for my two night stay at the Naumi Liora.  How on earth can I do that?  Well, I actually had a fair few Agoda Points saved up which allowed me to save big!  Ok, well not everyone may have Agoda Points and that’s fine – I like using Agoda for this reason, that because I do a bit of travel, the points do add up and it pays dividends for me.

You can still stay in Singapore without breaking the bank though.  How?

AirBNB is taking off in Singapore and the great thing about this is you can score yourself an apartment for a great price AND get to experience Singapore local style by staying in the suburbs.  Of course, there are plenty of apartments in the CBD as well.

Singapore has some great options in the way of hostels – over 83 of them in fact.  Check out a website like www.hostelworld.com and take a look at the options.

There are some great little hotels that are a little off the beaten track.  I hear you, you want to be near all the action, but honestly with Singapore’s amazing transport system, it won’t take you that long to get anywhere if you need to save some cash.  Besides, there’s more to Singapore than just Orchard Road.

Keep an eye out on accommodation websites like Agoda or Booking.com because you can honestly get some great deals.  I have stayed in some quite expensive hotels for around $200 per night because of a great deal.

Of course if you want a swimming pool, in-house dining options and to be right on the steps of an MRT station, then chances are you will be paying more.  A lot more.

My hotel, the Naumi Liora is housed in a gorgeously renovated heritage building, a row of Chinatown’s famous five footway buildings in fact.  I have a Heritage Single room which would normally retail for around SGD$150 per night.  It’s 2 MRT stops from Sentosa, close to Clarke Quay and Chinatown and a host of other places because of the MRT stops nearby.

IMG_0090

The room is not large, but I’m not here to spend all day in a room the size of the Taj Mahal, I come to explore and get out and about, so I don’t care how big the room is, only how comfy the bed is at the end of the day.

There is no pool and there’s no in-house dining.  BUT there’s a cool little snack bar with chips, biscuits, coffee and tea in the reception area and a quaint little garden area to chill.  AND there’s loads of restaurants and cafes around the area, so you really don’t need in-house dining.

Speaking of dining, it’s the price of alcohol that is likely to blow your budget the most in Singapore.  Grabbing a beer from a hotel or bar in Singapore can set you back about SGD$13 for a 330mL can/bottle so you’ll be enraptured at finding a long neck for about half the price here in Chinatown (try the Chinatown Seafood Restaurant on Pagoda Street).

Breakfast in Singapore doesn’t start until late (think 10/11am at most establishments) if you are after a Western Style meal.  But you can eat like a local at a much earlier time and for a much cheaper price if you head to a food centre – think under $5 against $20 for a cafe meal.  There’s also places like Kopitiam and Ya Kun Kaya Toast, where you’ll find just that (coffee, tea and kaya toast) for a decent price.  The best thing about all of these options is that you’ll be eating local.

There’s a bunch of things to do for free or next to nothing in Singapore.  Wander through Gardens by the Bay (you’ll need to pay to enter the domes), head to the Botanic Gardens for a picnic, stroll through one of the amazing ethnic quarters, watch a light show over the marina or head over to Sentosa Island (you’ll only need to pay for island admission).  Sometimes the museums and galleries will have a free entry day or if you are lucky enough to be in Singapore during one of the few open days – you can check out the beautiful grounds of the Istana.  Picking up an icecream from one of the carts along Orchard Road will only set you back about $1.20.  Plus, it doesn’t cost money to window shop.

So I start my second day in Singapore with no particular agenda, simply wandering the streets.  I really love the area that this hotel is in – full of beautiful heritage buildings with funky little shops popping up.  I meander through the streets taking in the day and watching people go about their lives on the little red dot.

20161125094154_IMG_0101

Before long I come across a little cafe called Free the Robot, which reminds me that I haven’t had breakfast.  I order up one of their sandwiches and their own brew iced coffee and grab a seat outside along the five footway.

Nice and full, I step inside the Indian Muslim Heritage Museum just up the road.  The museum has an interesting array of items and notes explaining the lives of the Indian Muslims in Singapore.  It’s a relatively new museum in Singapore, only having opened in 2015.

20161125095109_IMG_0111

Next stop is the National Gallery of Singapore.  This gallery is also new to Singapore having only recently opened and I especially want to see the Wu Ghuangzhou exhibit.  Unfortunately the exhibit is closed and being reconfigured but entry to the gallery today is free so I take the time to wander around and enjoy the works.  I think Singapore does galleries well and this one is no exception.

When visiting the National Gallery, you must go up to the roof area, especially for the views over the Padang and across to Marina Bay.

After spending a few hours at the Gallery, I reckon it’s about time for lunch and one place I’ve been dying to try for years now is Lau Pa Sat.  Also known as Telok Ayer Market, LPS is a food court nestled under a beautiful iron roof in the CBD.  Here you can wander around and choose whatever food takes your fancy before grabbing a seat under the fans to relax and chow down.  Plus you can get a great meal for an absolute fraction of the price of a western restaurant.  My meal came to around around $8 or so and that was for a beef and rice dish with soup and a pint of beer.

The rest of the afternoon I spent simply wandering, jumping on a train to Orchard Road to do some book shopping and just unwinding and getting ready for the trip home tomorrow.  Wine helps me do that, so I head to Clarke Quay to a little place called SQUE, which I frequent quite frequently for its drink specials.  This is usually a great place to grab 2-for-1 wines, beers or other drinks depending on the day and it has outdoor seating so you can sit opposite the colourful Clarke Quay and watch out over the river.

Yep, I think I’m ready to go home tomorrow…and boy, I can’t wait to work.

 

 

 

 

Christmas Road

Townhouse 50 has a great little breakfast.  There are fresh fruits and little spring rolls and dim sum, plus you get to choose one of a couple different main meals – usually some kind of eggs.  I’ve enjoyed my stay in this cute little place.

Several hours later, I arrive in Singapore and because of my budget constraints, I’m doing everything on the super cheap, which includes catching the train from the airport to my hotel.  By the time I arrive at the Naumi Liora, stepping in chewing gum along the way, I feel like the wreck of the Hesperus and am beginning to wish I’d sprung for a cab.  My room has the tiniest bathroom you’ve ever seen and I wonder if I’ll actually be able to get in the shower at all.  I do, and I emerge freshly cleaned and ready to explore the streets.

Being close to Christmas, the lights are strung up across Orchard Road, glittering away for all to see.  For six weeks each year, Orchard Road becomes a wonderland of twinkling lights, Christmas trees, stars and reindeers.  Each years display is different and more dazzling than the last.  This is my 3rd Christmas visit and it never fails to exite me like a little child.  I wish we had displays like this back home in Perth.

For dinner I jump on the MRT and head to Chinatown Food Street.  For a few years now, there’s been a salted egg yolk craze and each time I’ve tried to track down something to try, I’ve been out of luck.  I’m not leaving this time til I succeed, so it’s a good thing when I see a stall with salted egg yolk fried chicken.  Not the healthiest, but…oh well, you know.

The first thing I notice is that it’s incredibly salty.  And a little dry.  And probably should have some rice or something else with it.  When I think nobody is looking to notice that I’m leaving half a plate of food behind, I duck off to head back to my hotel.  After all the fresh flavours of Vietnam, this dish is just way too heavy and overpowering to make any great impressions on my palate.

20161124_200803

On the way, I spy an icecream stand with some interesting flavours on offer.  Chili crab icecream would be a fantastic thing to try, I think to myself, handing over a couple of dollars.

20161124_202227

Until I swallow the first spoonful and realise that no, no it is not.  I’ve really struck out with my menu choices tonight, which is strange for Singapore.  Maybe it’s just me and a good night’s sleep will fix everything.

Shopping Saigon

Today I have no plans but to explore the bustling city of Saigon.  I have no idea where I am going or what I will see, I merely pop in and out of shops as they call to me and explore what’s inside.  The only thing I know I must do is to try Avocado Coffee, so I head towards Shelter Coffee & Tea’s tiny little shop at 13 Lê Thánh Tôn, with little detours along the way.

The busy streets give way to a quieter area in District 1, which contains Japantown.  Here is where you’ll find this little green monster.  Sinh To Bo.

IMG_20161123_103614

I place my order at the cash register and then head up the narrowest little staircase to a seating area upstairs.  I am the only one here so I take the opportunity to spread my arms above my head and try and fan my armpits under the aircon.  It’s so hot outside that I am sweating rivers.  I’ve just about run out of tissues to mop myself up with.

In no hurry, my coffee arrives.  It looks like a cup of vomit, I won’t lie and it takes a few deep breaths and a stern talking to, to actually lift the cup to my mouth and drink.  But when I do, I am pleasantly surprised.  It’s a thick, rich texture almost as though it has icecream in it and it tastes sweet, I’m assuming from condensed milk.  It really is very yummy in actual fact and I pat myself on the back for being such a brave girl.

After a bit more wandering I come across a modern looking mall – it happens to be Parkson.  The blasting aircon inside makes me decide that this is where I’ll find lunch today.  Whatever it is, I will eat it in the icy cold aircon, so my pants will have a chance to unstick themselves from my legs.

20161123_124938

On a food floor of the mall, I come by a restaurant serving local dishes and decide that’s fine by me.  I still haven’t tried banh xeo and lucky for me, it’s on the menu.  What I’m not expecting is such a massive crispy pancake that could actually feed two people.  It looks absolutely delicious though, with a scattering of perfectly fresh herbs and salad leaves that I give it a really good go.  Banh xeo is made of a rice batter, which is then stuffed with bean sprouts, pork, shrimp and green onions, along with the herbs and salad greens that have accompanied it.  Somehow you tear some off and incorporate the herbs while trying to dip it into a beautiful light dressing and trying not to let the whole thing crumble in a mess before it gets to your mouth.  But when you do finally get it there, it’s a true taste explosion.  I love this lunch.  I later find out it’s meant to feed a family.  Oops.

Probably because of the huge amount of food I’ve just eaten, I suddenly feel quite tired and weary and could quite easily head back to the hotel for an afternoon nap.  But I spy a nail salon and looking down at my poor feet, I decide I will treat myself.  You know who won’t be getting a treat?  The poor girl that has to repair these wrecks.  The weeks of trudging along dirty, rain-soaked streets and lack of scrubbing brush or proper soaking facilities means that they look absolutely filthy, my toenails are caked with dirt and my heels are cracking.  But she does a hell of a job and in no time at all, they almost look amazing.  The pedicure takes around an hour and only costs me around AUD$30.  I pay her quite a tip in compensation for the possibility that she will never be able to unsee my feet in her nightmares and head towards the hotel for cocktail hour.

Tomorrow, I depart Vietnam for a few days of unwinding in that good old second home of mine.  Reflecting, I now feel like I’ve seen enough of Saigon and I’m happy to leave her behind for greener pastures, but I’m glad I came back to see her on my own terms.

Return to the Mekong

Thought I’d finished with the Mekong on this trip?  Well, not quite.  I’m about to board a bus to visit the Mekong Delta with Urban Adventures doing all the hard work.  The meeting point for today is outside the stunning Saigon Opera House, so I get a glimpse of some of Saigon’s beautiful french colonial style buildings while I wait.

My guide for the day is Thanh and he seems like a great guy.  Jumping on a minibus, we head off for the village of My Tho, about 2.5 hours away from Saigon.  I love getting out of the city.  These days always end up the best, so I can’t wait to see what today has in store for me.  I watch the streetscape change and flash glimpses of everyday life at me through the bus window as we move further and further away from the city.

Once we reach My Tho, it’s a short boat ride to the start of our journey through the Mekong Delta.  The Mekong Delta consists of many islands Today, we will visit two – Con Phung (or Phoenix) and Thoi Son (or Unicorn).

Exotic fruit abounds when we enter the clearing on Thoi Son.  Hot pink dragonfruit, spikey pineapples and ripening bananas great our eyes and after Thanh shows us how to carry a traditional bamboo pole basket across his shoulders, we take a seat to enjoy some tea and a plate of beautiful tropical fruit which includes dragonfruit, pineapple, mango and pawpaw.  Nearby a small group of musicians perform traditional songs.

Cacao tasting is also on the agenda as we pass by a fallen fruit.  Thanh breaks it open and we get to pull off one of the seeds and suck off the white pulp covering the seed, which tastes kind of tangy.

Wandering over the rough pathways of the village gives us a good glimpse of life on the island.

Honey awaits us at our next stop.  Here, we are given nut snacks and a taste of local honey liquor which tastes amazing.  Strong, but amazing.  This is one of many cottage industries that help sustain life in the Mekong Delta.

Our visit to Phoenix Island starts with a Cotton Candy making business.  We are shown how the coconuts are shredded by machine and heated to become toffee-like before being sliced and wrapped and eventually sold to a customer.  The cotton candy comes in a bunch of different flavours including ginger and coffee and tastes yummy.  The process was really interesting to watch.

Xe Loi are a kind of motorised cart.  We are handed out helmets…very sexy helmets…

20161122_121454

…and climb aboard for our next stop.  It’s such a fascinating ride and a great way to see the island, even if the ride is a little bumpy at times.

We head through the end of town and out on to some even smaller, more rural roads.  It feels like we are speeding along due to the bumpy ride and the tiny pathways we are travelling on.  We dodge tree branches (hence the helmets) and narrowly miss crumbled pathways.  And then all of a sudden, there are three xe lois.  What happens now?

So much fun!!  We do safely arrive at our lunch destination though and dish after amazing dish of food is bought out for us to enjoy, along with nice cold beers.  The restaurant is a couple of large outdoor pavillions with tables and chairs so can still enjoy the outdoors, with chickens running amok nearby.  The rain has started, but we have plastic raincoats and full bellies and we are having an awesome day.

20161122133115_IMG_0055

Leaving the restaurant behind – I could have sat there for much longer – but our time is coming to an end.  We walk down narrow concrete steps to some wooden sampans lined up against the dock and begin our paddle down the Mekong towards the bigger boat.  I’m not going to lie, getting from the sampan to the boat was a little nervewracking, but we all managed just fine.

With everyone safely back on the ferry to My Tho, Thanh hands out fresh coconuts, shell partially removed, straws inserted, for us to sip.

20161122_134949

And with that, the day is over, and we are back on the minibus and heading back to Saigon.  This has been the best.day.ever.  Well, not quite, but close.  Very close.

Cảm O’n Vung Tau

Emboldened by the lack of illness from the Ca Phe Den with ice that I had for breakfast yesterday, and despite the constant drizzle of rain today, I head back to Bistro 9 to try the Ca Pha Sua Da – Vietnamese coffee with milk (and ice) and am rewarded with yet another delicious cup of wake-me-up.

20161121_064214

Watching the construction work take place at the Rex Hotel across the road, I sit in stunned contemplation.  Safety is certainly not a priority here as the helmetless foreman, cigarette in hand, leans over a window opening (no safety harness) to direct a truck that is back up below.  Another helmetless worker dumps wheelbarrows full of concrete rubble over a similar window opening (again no harness) into the truck, three stories below, rubble and dust freefalling down the front of the construction.

20161120_082405.jpg

Back home, that job would have been stopped – or rather, it wouldn’t have even started when the workers rocked up sans safety boots.  A harness carrying sacks of cemet is pulled up to another window, swaying madly and on an angle.

The rain seems to have settled in, and with nothing much more I want to do out in the heat, I people watch from my hotel window, watching people go about their Monday morning.

20161120110955_IMG_974720161120110647_IMG_974120161120110601_IMG_97362016-11-20 10.24.01

I bid farewell to Moon and Uncle G at the dock, having had a really nice time, and board the ancient Russian ferry back to Saigon.

My next hotel is a cute little place called Townhouse 50, not far from the Ben Thahn Markets, which I have no intention of visiting.  My last trip here consisted of a t-shirt and knickers hunt after my luggaged failed to arrive in Vietnam at the same time as I did, so I consider my trip to the markets done.

What I didn’t get to see was the War Remnants Museum and that is particularly what I wanted to visit this time around.  There’s plenty of time to do that this afternoon, so I take  a deep breath and head out onto the crazy streets of Saigon.  Its quite the journey trying to find my way amongst the maze of streets, dodging scooters that have decided to ride on the footpath and trying not to stack it on broken, upended bits of concrete, but I finally make it.

Four floors of exhibitions relating to what the Vietnamese refer to as the “American War”, and all of them packed with tourists.  Tourists going the wrong way around the exhibition, tourists standing in front of exhibits for way too long while bigger and bigger groups of tourists cluster around them…I should have known better.  Normally, I would grin and bear it but for some reason today, it is really grating on me.  I just can’t make the most of my time here and I’m annoyed (in hindsight, I should have returned early one morning before everyone else like I normally do instead of braving the afternoon session).

So I return to the hotel area instead and make it in time for happy hour at the MZ Wine Restaurant.  I’ll start exploring tomorrow.