Monday, February 2, 2009

Saturday in Saigon -- January 17th 2009

The day started with a buffet breakfast at the Palace Hotel that we were unable to have the day before. This place had a great spread – anything from omelettes to dim sum and amazing exotic and tropical fruits and juices. It was definitely a two trip buffet.

Bao Anh joined us afterwards and we headed to the Ben Thanh Market for some shopping. Ben Thanh market is one of Saigon's most famous landmarks. Before we went, I was given the gift of a bottle of Dalat wine from Bao Anh.

The market was a huge place with narrow aisles and hundreds of vendors. I made the first purchase of the day – a pair of sunglasses that, according to Bao Anh, I did not bargain hard enough for. So, she would now be the official bargainer for the rest of the day. She was not happy with my bargaining technique. Hey, I got a Versace genuine plastic glass case with my purchase.

We stayed in the market about two hours or so. Stacy bargained pretty well for her purchases. I listened to Bao Anh and walked away for a vendor who was selling bamboo bowls. The vendor followed me to the next stand where I was looking at similar bowls and took my offer.

I had to buy some t-shirts, one that said Good Morning Vietnam and another that had the Saigon 333 beer symbol. Then, I heard my name being called. 8000 miles from home, who would I know. Well, it turned out to be Doug’s friends. They were out for a little touristy stuff, as well. I also picked up some bamboo serving bowls that I had seen on line for a lot more before I left. I definitely bargained well for these. At the direction of Bao Anh, I walked away to another vendor and was followed and given my price. Thanks, Bao Anh!

Bao Anh then led us to a real Saigon hot spot for lunch. This place Quan An Ngon was very popular and very crowded. Again, another inexpensive lunch of 3 entrees, drinks and tip for about $11.00

Back to the hotel to prepare for the wedding party. In Vietnam, you cannot be early for a wedding. Although the invitation said 5 PM, only family shows up early, other guests come as late as 7. All this time the bride and groom stand at the entrance and greet those who are arriving.

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