We woke up not knowing that today would be the worst day of our trip.
Things started off fine. We had a lovely breakfast prepared by our hotel and set off out into town. Opposite our hotel and along the route were loads of flower stalls. They mainly sold a yellow flower, which was very popular with most hotels and restaurants. But they did have the occasional Dragon fruit plant just to spice things up.
Our first stop was a copy of the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica. Having never been there, I didn’t know what the original looked like. Stef had seen it but said it looked like a much smaller version. I’d read prior that one man had been turned away from going inside by a nun ‘bouncer’ as he was a tourist, so I wasn’t putting too much hope in to it. Anyway, there were no nuns to be seen and we both went inside. It looked nice and I took a few pictures. During the war many years ago, the stain glass windows had been removed/destroyed, however, there were a few for the tourists to take photos of.
Next stop was the Jade Emperor Pagoda. When we got near the temple, we’d been walking for miles in the hot weather. Luckily enough, there was a Lotteria. It’s their version of McDonalds. We both had some fizzy floats that were lovely, apart from both of our cups having holes in letting the drinks go everywhere!
A few minutes walk and we were there. It was not like any of the temples we’ve seen so far. It was small and still in action. People were walking around with their incense sticks waving them around while praying to the various statues around the building. It was very quiet in the rooms apart from every now and again when you’d hear the shutter of my camera going off as I take as many pictures as I can! They’re fine about tourists entering and taking pictures as long as a small donation is made. It had a small pond out the front with small terrapins and various fish in it. At the front gate, you could buy either the terrapins or fish to release into the pond for good luck. Looking back at the day, maybe we should have bought the whole lot!
We’d been walking for miles to the Temple so decided to get a taxi to near our hotel so we could continue to the next Temple. There was one right outside the Temple – How lucky was that!
Or so we thought.
On our first night in Ho Chi Minh, we got a taxi from the bus station to our hotel. I’d say it was a good few miles. It cost 35,000D (about £1). The taxi from the temple pulled up at our destination that would have been about the same distance as the first night. The meter read 500,000D (about £14!). We had no choice but to pay it. You just don’t want to get involved with the police in another country – we both love the TV show ‘Banged Up Abroad’, but we’d rather watch it than star in it!
Having exited the taxi, we started walking down the road. Just like in Thailand and Cambodia, it’s not uncommon for mopeds to ride on the pavement. They always give way to the pedestrians so it’s fine. Anyway, with Stef slightly behind me, a moped mounts the kerb. It rides past me and all of a sudden I hear Stef scream. I turn around to see the moped in the far distance and Stef holding her stomach. “They’ve taken the bum bag!” she shouted. The back passenger of the bike had punched Stef in the stomach and snatched the bum bag. There was nothing we could do. They were off – the whole incident lasted no longer than a few seconds. I turned around and saw a few members of public standing there, watching – all with bikes themselves. I asked if they could do anything but they all gave me a dumb look – they probably see it everyday.
Luckily, I carry the money (never trust the woman with cash) and the passports are always at the hotel. The only thing that was in the bum bag was the video camera, a bottle of nearly empty suntan lotion, Stef’s Vaseline and a clothes peg (a bit random but it’s a family thing to peg someone when they are not looking and take photos). Stef loved that bum bag, it was her little baby!
Apart from being a little sore, Stef was fine, which is the most important thing. Everything else can be replaced plus the video camera was insured.
We got back to our hotel and advised them of what had happened and asked where the nearest police station was. We were told there was one about 7 minutes walk away and we should take a member of staff with us. We walked to the station, only to be lead to a police officer that told us to come back in 20-minutes as he was about to have his lunch! I wish I could do that at work! We went back shortly after and again, took the bellboy from the hotel. It was a good job he came as he translated for us as they spoke hardly any English.
Report completed, we headed back to the hotel and retired for the day. We’d both had enough.
R.I.P bum bag……….