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Ho Chi Minh City-Tunnel Vision with not a good tour guide

Yesterday, I took a tour out of town to two different places: The Cao Dai Temple and the Cu Chi Tunnels. The tour left a few blocks from the hostel.

The tour guide introduced himself as Mr Vinh who was 67 years old. He kept saying he spoke very poor English and kept asking if we understood his English. He mentioned he was the real deal but a not a very good tour guide. He mentioned he was originally from Saigon, and went to the US and fought in the US Armed Forces. He also mentioned he came back to Vietnam, and was here in 1975 when the South was united with the North. He spoke about how he his house, car, and motorbike we're seized by the North, and how his sister and brother escaped from the country on a boat for America, and he gave them all his money-knowing the government would confiscate it.

The first place was called the Cao Dai Temple. Mr Vinh didn't really explain much of the temple-not much that I could understand. He mentioned he was Catholic, and He seemed to mentioned that the Cao Dai religion was founded in 1919, and combined elements of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam. The temple was built in 1926, and it was giant, with multicolored columns. A large daily service went on when i was there, with congregants arriving in white dress, and sitting in rows on the floor. Music played as well, with a drum and singing. What was entertaining though is what happened when we entered the church. We we're all required to remove our shoes before entering the building-and I saw this cute little guy slipping in and out of the sandals. I pointed it out-not everyone thought it was cute:


We stayed there for about an hour.


We stopped for lunch at an expensive restaurant (for Vietnam-about $4.00 per meal-lunch wasn't included). i sat with a girl and her friend from Hanoi in North Vietnam-and they basically said the tour guide was bullshitting . She said that she learned that the North Vietnamese helped the South after the war, and gave them food. That they didn't confiscate any private property. At this moment, Mr. Vinh was sitting with a couple from Poland eating lunch discussing politics. The girl said you just don't discuss politics with strangers.

After lunch we drove for another hour or so to the Cu Chi Temples. Once again, Mr Vinh spoke very quickly about the temples. He showed us booby traps, and places where skinny Vietnamese could enter but not fat Americans. We went in a tunnel (i went in the tunnel at the DMZ zone the following week-but this was different). It was very tight. I was bent over the entire time. Fortunately, there we're ways out of the tunnel frequently. After a period where i would have had to crawl to stay in the tunnel, I just walked out. Unfortunately, I think my cell phone is still in the tunnel somewhere, which pissed me off.


Mr Vinh mentioned he was a poor tour guide, and he was right. He wasn't. He never answered any questions, but his life was interesting.

After the tour, I went back to the hostel. I rested, then had some pizza for dinner. There was a pub crawl at the hostel, so I went on the pub crawl to the adjoining bar street and had fun. I felt I needed it after a long day and losing my phone.

Posted by DavidPearlman 18:59 Archived in Vietnam

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