Day 1 – March 25
The ship was attached to the pilot ship at about 4 a.m. and we were driven up the Saigon River for a few hours before reaching Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon at about 7 a.m. Once we docked, we could see several parents waiting down below for their kids. After finally being cleared by immigration, Malia, Katy and I went out looking for a tailor and shopping, because Malia was leaving the second day for her trip to Ha Noi. We hopped right on the shuttle, which took us to the Rex Hotel. We walked down the street and found a cute little café but first found an ATM. Let me tell you, Vietnam was my favorite port because I took 4,000,000 dollars from the ATM. Boy I felt rich! So after a quick snack at the café and some good coffee (cuz the coffee on the ship sucks), we headed for Ben Tanh Market. The market was in a giant covered warehouse kind of place. Half of it had clothing, fabrics, bags, shoes, etc. for sale; about a quarter of the market was food, and then the last part has house wares, dishes, etc. We spent quite a bit of time there and found fabrics to buy and then take to the tailors. We made a stop for lunch at Pho (pronounced fuh, for those of wondering) and it was really good and really cheap. I found it very fitting that my first time having Pho was in Vietnam.
Next, we went looking for the tailor. The first place we walked in, our friends were in also. It was a pretty big place and looked really nice compared to most of the places we had seen. Katy and Malia had their fabric and designs for their dresses already chosen but I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted. I ended up seeing a man’s shirt that was made out of really cute fabric but it was a shirt. Then, as I was going through their piles of fabric, I found the exact fabric and decided to have a dress made out of it. Then the ladies took our measurements, asked about styles, and we paid and were out the door pretty quickly. Then we decided to go to a place to get our nails done. It was super cheap and although we expected a job well done, our nails actually turned out pretty bad and they got messed up really quickly, which sucked. After that we headed outside to the night market, which surrounded Ben Tanh, after it closed at 5. We had dinner at one of the food stands and I ordered what was supposed to be fried rice with chicken but it ended up also having baby octopus mixed in. I called the waiter over thinking he had given me the wrong thing but apparently “fried rice with chicken and mixed” means mixed meat, including baby octopus. Yuk. After dinner, we walked around a bit more and then headed back to the ship at about 10:30 p.m. It had been a long day of shopping and walking around so we headed to bed early-ish that night since Malia had to leave at 4 a.m. and Katy and I had our FDP leaving at 7:30 a.m.