Can’t believe that we have to say Good-bye today…already. But never mind, we have the whole day. Dave’s plane departs at nearly midnight! Maybe today we’ll relax a bit more. Find the time to breathe a bit. We’ve been running around seeing the sights and dining a bit on the swank. We’ll find something(s) quieter to keep us busy today. How’s that for an oxymoron? Well, we’re not morons so we start with breakfast at the hotel. It’s a small dining room, really just for guests. But the manager’s assured me we can be guests for this morning. We have eggs and coffee.
The ceiling makes me smile. A bit of grandeur in a small space. Vietnamese are good at inventing creative ceiling work. Can’t say I always find it appealing, but this one’s a STAR!
I said we’d relax a bit more today, didn’t I? Off for some Royal Treatment. My favorite place for a foot massage. Here they include a head, neck, arms and back massage too! Told ya it was the Royal Treatment!
I guess if the staff practice on each other enough they should know what they’re doing. Well that’s the logic anyway.
Here’s the beginning…a head and face massage with some real old fashioned liniment to get the nose breathing in some healing fumes!
You’ll have to believe me…the masseur/masseuses really did a great job. An hour and a quarter massage for 10 bucks including tip. Even a BAD massage might be worth #10!
Time to head back to the hotel to check out.
There are some cool vintage cars schlepping around Saigon. Those French officers knew how to live the good life. Or did this one belong to an American officer…? Anyway, it’s a Vietnamese car afficionado driving the old sedan these days…and a ton of new ones too! They say there are more Rolls Royce’s per capita in Vietnam than any other country right now. Hmmm….how did THAT happen? (A little corruption sometimes goes a long way…ha! Oh dear, what did I just say…?)
Here are couple of officials to direct Life In The Fast Lane here in Old Saigon. Bet they don’t drive Mercedes Benz. Probably not even a car. Well, they do tell us where to park (our motorcycles) and keep Traffic Order. What little there is. Unless you’ve been here you’ll never get THAT joke! Noon now. Time to check out.
Checkout over. Off to the new Bitexco Tower. The tallest building in Vietnam.
Wikipedia explains again:
Bitexco Financial Tower is a skyscraper in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, owned by Bitexco Group, a Vietnamese company. With 68 floors above ground and three basements, the building has a height of 262.5 metres (861 ft), making it the 124th tallest building in the world. It was designed by New York City based Carlos Zapata Studio, and is located in the business district of the city. The tower was the tallest building in Vietnam from 2010 to early 2011 when Keangnam Hanoi Landmark Tower topped out on 24 January 2011.
The groundbreaking ceremony was held in September 2005. Two years later, in June 2007, construction of the tower started and was scheduled to be completed in mid-2009. The tower, however, topped out in mid-2010 and had its inauguration ceremony on 31 October 2010.
Bitexco Financial Tower has more than 16 elevators that can reach any position and any floor in the building within 45 seconds. When the building comes into operation, about 10,000 people will work there. Because of its size, the project is designed with three basements covering 33,000 square metres (360,000 sq ft) for parking and for equipment for the building’s operation. The tower is located on an area of 6,000 square metres (65,000 sq ft) with the floor area of over 100,000 square metres (1,100,000 sq ft). Total estimated cost of this project is more than US$220 million. With the completion, Bitexco Financial Tower is the tallest building in Ho Chi Minh City, reaching 262.5 meters (861 ft) in height. The tallest building in Vietnam will still be the Keangnam Hanoi Landmark Tower at 336 meters (1,102 ft). The tower is mostly made of steel and glass and shaped as a lotus petal. The lotus is considered a symbol of Vietnamese culture
A helipad is located on the 50th floor at the height of 191 meters (627 ft) from the ground. This helipad is a unique feature of the tower, projecting outward from the tower itself. An observation deck is also located on the 49th floor, below the helipad. At this height, visitors can see a 360° view of the city. Access to the observation deck is a ticketed feature. Each ticket costs 200,000 VND (about 10 USD).
Yeah…about $10 each to the SkyDeck…floor 49…the official observation floor. But we’ll beat the system. We head to the 50th floor. It’s free to get there. We can get a coffee there for half that and take in the view while we’re at it. Wow, expensive coffee! (But let’s not be TOO cheap!)
Yup, it’s a long way up.
Hey, wait a minute. It’s not THAT big a deal. Just here in Saigon. It’s the biggest deal we’ve got. To get high anyway.
I suppose it’s always good to view a city from overhead. Up there Saigon shows an unexpected amount of nature with all the trees those Green French planted a hundred years ago lining the streets.
Time for lunch. We pass along the concourse of The Tower and head across the street.
We pass a huge window advertising a fashion shop. “Katy is all in”. I chuckle wondering if Dave’s grand daughter, Katy is “all in”. She’s just completed High School. Graduates this week! She MUST be “all in”. It’s a big milestone!
And one last look at Bitexco Tower again…thanks to Wikipedia (again!)
Nhu Lan cafe is one of my favorite places for a cheap, good lunch. Especially Banh Mi…the famous Vietnamese sub-style sandwich. Subway, eat your heart out! And the Banh Mi is only $1…!
Not sure how impressed Dave is with HIS Banh Mi. Maybe Subway is calling!
Lunch is over. We must stick to our schedule on this relaxed day. Ha! After a short stop back at home we head out to visit one of my great friends. A famous Vietnamese art collector. He and his wife live in a suburb about 40 minutes from Downtown Old Saigon. Mr. Long began collecting only 10 years ago. He has managed to amass more than 1500 paintings. Most of the artists are dead. So you can imagine his Collection is not Small Stuff. Too bad it’s that way. Why can’t more artists get famous before they leave us? Well, who said life always makes sense? Mr. Long and his wife Ms. Thao live in a lovely 4 storey home they built 3 years ago. The second floor is a display gallery showcasing about 50 works of art. Mr. Long and Ms. Thao’s most recent acquisition is their 2 month old Little Darling. A girl. She slept the entire time we visited. We spent most of the time in the Gallery. Mr. Long discussed a lot of history and information of his collection. It was fascinating. I’ve been there several times. But I always enjoy his talks. Downstairs on the ground floor we admire some of their antiques and sit for awhile before we say Good-Bye.
Home again. Dinnertime. Before we get in a cab again. Destination Tan Son Nhat International Airport.
Well…as they say, All Good Things Must Come To An End. Asiana Airlines heads for Korea at 11:39pm. The monitor says they’re on time. Good-Bye is seldom fun. But memories of this visit are! A BIG HUG. And you’re on your way, Dave. Air flights are nothing new to you. But no one really looks forward to those long hauls, no matter how seasoned one is. Hopefully you’ll sleep well in the Seoul Airport…the famous Incheon Terminal.
See you next time…Soon I hope.