Saigon is less than 1-1/2 hours by plane from Hanoi. But quite a different crowd – and climate.
We arrived early, so our room was not ready yet and we went for a little lunch and to look at the Ben Thanh market.
I made a good choice with the hotel. Perfect central location – a stone throw from the world famous Ben Thanh market, and 5 minutes to the park and the palace of the former president of South Vietnam, the spot where the Vietnam war ended when a North Vietnam tank crashed through the gates, back then in 1975. It’s also only a few minutes to one of my favourite Saigon restaurants where they sell baby crocodile meat. The hotel is new and in excellent shape and I managed to get their “signature room” with a big terrace overlooking the city. Life is good to me!
Lunch was a glass noodle soup with crab meat. Enough to keep us going through the day.
The Ben Thanh market does not only sell food (today it would have been too late for that anyway) but also clothes, souvenirs and all kinds of things. It is full with tourists and I don’t think one can find a reel bargain there.
I gave it a shot, nonetheless. The wristband of my watch disintegrated shortly after my arrival and I have not found any decent replacement. The absolutely cheapest wristband I was able to find was 200,000 Dong, 15 Leva). That kind of quality I buy at the Bansko Sunday market for 5 Leva. Therefore I have been “timeless” for the last two months. Since there were a lot of stalls in the market selling fake watches I set out to buy a cheap watch instead of a wristband.
At the 4th or so watch stall I found the right guys. I explained them what I was looking for and they did not try to sell me a 50$ watch. In the end we agreed on a fake Rolex Oyster Perpetual, black with a metal wristband at a fair price of 300,000 Dong (21.50 Leva). They made money and I didn’t feel ripped off. Of course, the wristband was too short and they had to insert several metal parts. They winced only shortly and asked for 400,000 Dong but the shrugging of my shoulders made them go back to real.
Should you come to Saigon, this is the place to buy your fake watch: Stall 729 inside the Ben Thanh market. They have a huge choice of brand names and their prices are reasonable.
We are back in our air-conditioned room as it is not only 32 C outside but also very humid. At 5pm we will venture out again…