Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) was the next port of call, the largest city in Vietnam it played a huge role in the Vietnam war being the base refuge for the US anti-communist attacks on the northern communist Vietnam (Vietcong). Like any other large city, this place is buzzing. What is it like in the center of the town? imagine stepping on a nest of red ants and then giving each angry ant a motor bike???!!! thats what its like noisy and hectic! A view from the city's skybar will give you an amazing view of the city at night, wouldn't go buying too many drinks up there though! One of the main attractions is the Cu Chi tunnels and the Historical museum. I managed to score a few bullets from an M16 at the tunnels while also checking out and passing through some of the impressive and narrow underground tunnels that were used in the Vietnam war. As for the museum, that was grim, particularly the images of the victims of Agent Orange (dioxin), a chemical used in the war resulting in severe disfiguration and consequently many horrific birth defects.
The Iphone Ordeal
Well this is an embarrassing and revealing story!!! Upon arriving home one night at approx. 4 am with two danish guys and one other Irish punter, a ladyboy and a hooker zipped by us on a scooter. Yes you heard it right! Being friendly people that we are, we decided to engage in conversation with these lovely people, I mean you have to be open minded right?! The ladyboy and the hooker kept circling around on the scooter before coming closer to talk and obviously talk business. With none of us having no real intention to bite the bait we walked towards our hostel accomodation and were closely followed by them both. It came to the point where I had enough messing about and decided to hit the hay at my hostel. They didn't like this and used this opportunity as a final attempt to salvage something. After heading into the lobby of the hostel, the ladyboy got off the scooter came in and hit me a slap in the genital area while passing a sexual remark. At the same time she/he/it whipped the phone out of my pocket before returning to the scooter with the hooker ready for departure. They left abruptly and I had no idea my phone was gone. About 30 seconds after they left the local security pulled up at the hostel door, pointed to me and asked "Did you lose your phone?", after a quick pat of my pockets, I replied with a ....."Oh f**k!". They sped off after them but it was too late. Obviously familiar with this late night activity, they knew what they were up to. These people are pro's at this and giving them any kind of headstart will result in a game over situation. I was totally pissed about it and more distraught over the 2 weeks of lost pics and HD videos during my Vietnam trip. How and ever, I slept it off that night.
I Decided to do a bit of investigating the next day and used the "Find my iphone" app to track the phone (via GPS). I found that my phone was located 2km away from the hostel. Clutching to hope I traveled with an Irish guy, Michael, who kindly offered to come along with me. The GPS tracking dot pointed towards a street corner which had multiple shops that sold and repaired phones (alarm bells!). After narrowing it down to two shops, we attempted some questioning, the first shop seemed to know nothing and the language barrier was a big problem. However the shop next to it, suddenly closed up and upon asking to enter and see if I could buy a new iphone, the apparent shop owner, didn't give away too much, looked shady and pretended to be stupid (He insisted he wasn't working today). This looked fishy and with the help of a local hairdressing family they brought me to the local police station. What a waste of time that was, we interrupted the police man from his daily drama show on tv and he merely instructed me to go back to my own district and report the incident there first. I done that, but those police, who also didn't give a rats arse, insisted that to file a claim I needed the receptionist of the hotel to come with me. Unfortunately there was only one worker on duty and they couldn't leave until much later that evening. They wouldn't process the forms until the morning after too and I then even after that I would have to go back to the district where I thought my phone was located and hand that into the police there. Sigh, I accepted defeat, there wasn't a hope in hell of me getting that back at this stage.
That day in the police station at the same time, another guy of the very same age with the very same story was there (which made me feel a little better!) and there was also a girl there with her handbag stolen. I have been warned many times about pickpocketing here but as usual you never expect for it to happen to you. So everyone BEWARE of it in Vietnam, particularly in Ho Chi Minh. To put it bluntly, trying to be a big man in a foreign country you only end up becoming a victim of the system, a sitting duck which I was. Ho Chi Minh city 1 , Cian McGovern 0.
Despite the iphone ordeal before I left, Vietnam is one of the best places to visit in Asia. It has just enough development to keep you comfortable and not feeling like a fish out of water but enough of the rawness where you can see the true colours of the Vietnamese people and the cultures within. The main attraction for me was the scenery, which I would consider some of the best on my travels so far. Recommendation - Make sure you rope this country into your Asian travel circuit, check out the easy rider bike tours and eat plenty of good street food.
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