After spending about an hour in the War Remnants museum we continued on our tour, heading to Binh Tay, the biggest wholesale market which is huge!! Although be warned keep your belongings close! We walked around the massive market before heading into China Town and to visit Thien Hau Temple, a temple which worships Thiên Hậu who looks after the people on the sea as many of the Chinese who live here once came on boats. The temple had loads of tiny statues all around the roof and so many incense… although my favorite was the hanging spiral incense from the ceiling.
We moved on to a disabled factory which specializes in the famous Vietnamese lacquerware, the factory is government-owned and employs victims of the Agent Orange along with other people suffering from disabilities. The artwork is beautiful and has a painstaking process including placing duck shell and mother of pearl onto the piece then cracking it with a fine tool. It’s glued down then washed over and over, depending on the piece it is then painted and polished. The finished art is beautiful and you can buy some on site which goes towards helping people with disabilities, because of this the price is about double that of what you will pay for it at a normal store in Vietnam. When we got back onto the bus and American couple showed off their bowls and tiles they bought then told everyone…. “We bought a bar!!” Yes… I do mean a drinks bar!!! It was getting shipped back to America for them and I dread to think just how much they spent in the store!!
The tour set off again for the Reunification Palace which used to be the President office during the Vietnam war and was the site of the end of the War during the ‘Fall of Saigon’ (Saigon was the old name for Ho Chi Mihn city, renamed to commemorate the political leader Ho Chi Mihn) when tanks belonging to the North Vietnamese army pushed though its gates in 1975. The two replica tanks are in the gardens of the palace.
The palace is huge and you can have a look into the president’s game room, dining rooms, entertaining rooms etc as well as the guest quarters and even down into the secret bunker. Although the secret bunker is just empty rooms with the occasional empty desk and telephone! It is a beautiful palace (you can even get married in it!) but one that you can get round in about half an hour, to get in you must pay 30,000 ₫ ($1.40/£0.84)
With our tour almost over we stopped off at the Notre Dame (again another building built by the French) and the old post office where we could send off our postcards! We did not explore these much as the Note Dame had most of it cut off to the public for prayer and by the end of the day the jet lag had well and truly caught up with us again and we had to head home for a quick dinner and a sleep!