The bus from Mui Ne dropped us off at Phanm Ngu Lao around 2pm already. Except for the bahn mi I had at the stop, I hadn’t eaten anything. Walking to Kim Hotel at Buiven, a middle-aged lady kept pestering us asking where we were going, if we already had a hotel, etc. Seeing our backpacks she must have thought we were still scouting for a room. We kept telling her we had a hotel already, but she just kept following us. As we were about to turn into the street where Kim Hotel was, she probably noticed that we were ignoring here. Seeing that she won’t get anything from us she shouted, “Go to the moon! Go to hell!” Hahahahaha.
The Vietnamese we’ve encountered have generally been nice. Even the sellers at the Bien Thay market are okay except for some really pushy ones who grab you and even block your path. It is kinda irritating but I find it more amusing. Some are just there to really rip you off like the girl who sold me the “Tintin in Vietnam” shirt for D150,000 when it was only being peddled by other stores at D37,000. Even the ones in Pham Ngu Lao are just D40,000. But then again, when you get ripped-off it is mostly your fault for not taking the time to browse around and compare prices. But just as there are bad sellers, there are also really good ones like the ladies I bought coffee and dried jackfruit from at Ben Thay Market later in the afternoon while Francis heard mass at Notre Dame. For the first time, I actually felt I was buying and making decisions for myself rather than being forced upon. One lady, the one who spoke English, even exchanged my dollars for dong at a really good price. “You help me, so I help you,” she said. I bought some coffee, tea, dried jackfruit, dried bananas, cashew nuts, and prawn crackers. I would have bought some more if I had enough space as all those stuff are so expensive back home.
The dried bananas and jackfruit that I like so much and which cost so much in Manila were a real steal at only D170,000 per kilo for the jackfruit and D200,000 for the bananas. I also got these really cute embroidered laundry bags to give to people back home.
When I finally met up with Francis at Highlands Coffee, it was about 7pm and we started looking for dinner. Instead, walking along Buiven and De Tham, we had a shopping spree instead. We went to really nice shop selling arts and crafts and I got a couple of traditional Vietnamese musical instruments at a steal. There were also lutes on sale and they were really cheap. Unfortunately, it would be difficult to be lugging it around all the way to Cambodia and Thailand. We also bought a some pirated Lonely Planet guidebooks for the heck of it. It was our first ever to see a pirated book! There were some really nice items at a store selling Sapa textiles but they were quite costly. Francis had really wanted to buy some paintings as Vietnam is quite known for its reproductions. I bought 2 small ones — Van Gogh’s “Night Cafe” and “Lavender.”
So our last night in Saigon more or less turned into a shopping spree. I would have wanted to go to Apocalypse Now but we’re really out of our budget now.