Wednesday, 21 March 2012

A man's touch - Day 1 - Saigon

With barely 2 hours of sleep in Singapore, we reached Saigon at 9am. 
World over you hear that the people in Vietnam and HCMC specifically are the sweetest and the friendliest..right? WRONG! Well, not everyone.
After delayed flights and finally reaching HCMC I came to my guesthouse which is hidden in a small alley way.
A lot of reviews abt this place were about how friendly the host is. So I worked my way through the maze of alleys and came to my guesthouse expecting to see my friendly host. She looks at me and goes "Why you no say you will be late". 
Me: "Ummm, I emailed you that my flight was late. 
Her: "Yeah you email 2 hours late" 
Me: Well, I dont have internet on the plane" 
Her: "My driver wait for you 1hour in airport".
I am already loosing it and dont want to stay here. But I am in no mood to look for another accomodation after an exhausting flight. Anyway after patching up with her, she tells me to wait and use the internet while she does all the check in formalities. So I waited and waited and waited and after an hour I go up to her to ask if all the formalities are done and she says, check in time is 2pm and it was 10 am. WTF, she wont let me check in!
Since sleeping or having a shower was'nt an option, I said I was going to sight see and will be back by 2. She looks at me and says, "You so tired". So lady, you know I m tired and still wont check me in. EVIL!
Anyway, i took the necessary things and left to explore the city. I met my melbourne friends (the guys who were also going to Vietnam) who were having a beer, Saigon style, sitting in small chairs while I have a coffee. We then start exploring the streets and 100 meters later they take a break for a beer. I have another Vietnamese coffee. We start again, 200 meters, another beer stop, another coffee, again another beer stop 200 meters later. 2 hours and all I saw was bars after bars. Apparantly, that is what you are supposed to do in your holidays they tell me. I smile and politely say I want to actually see places. So I leave on my own - Ahhh it feels so good being alone and stopping where I want to stop! My first stop was the Hindu temple in they city. I met the caretaker Mr Laxmanan. An Indian man, with a Wietnamese accent who lives in France -yeah, weird. Absolutely sweet man. He tells me a bit of history about the temple, his father who was there 60 years ago and some amazing things about Saigon. He then tells me the names of places to get the best massage, best clothes, best Indian food and the best nightclubs in Saigon. He even writes a note to the massage lady and the clothes shop lady saying I am his friend and that they take good care of me! Oh, how sweet! He asks me to meet his mum who is the head priest at 7 in the night. I take down all the notes and head to see the sights - Ben than market, (had a lovely Pho for 50cents, hell yeah! I love Vietnam!) Reunification Palace, Notredam Catherdral and Post office. Great structures and amazing history behind each building. (I wont bore you with the history of Vietnam or the war, you can google it yourself if you would like to know the history). 

The Massage:

Its already 5 and i think its time for a massage after walking for 6 hours in 37 degree heat and 100% humidity. I take a taxi and bargain with the taxi driver - taxi fare $2, he laughs at my aggressive bargaining skills - Damn right, I am an Indian woman and there is nothing sweet as getting a bargain! So he drops me off at the massage place. I show them the note, and lady there goes, "Sorry I dont know your friend so I cant give you that price". F&*%!  Man, can anything not be straight forward! I still want a massage so I say ok, the expensive price is $10 anyways. So she guides me to a room and gives me change of clothes. I get changed and head to my bed. Then ta-da, a young man introduces himself and says he will be doing my massage. I think "Ummm should I say I need a lady or will they think I am lesbian :P" I smile at the guy giving my consent. He massages my head and asks me the usual questions, where I am from, how long I m there for, what I do and am I single.

He starts massaging my foot and throws flirty glances. With every stroke, he gives even more flirtatious looks - I m freaking out. So I decide its best to close my eyes and not look at him - smart me ;) He taps on my foot to ask if the pressure is ok - Dude, I am clearly trying to avoid eye contact! He then asks me to turn over to massage my back. I turn face down and a 30 mintues later,  no warning, he takes my clothes off! WTF. I turn at him, he smiles and sensing my tension, he says "is ok...relas ma'am". OMG

I am too nervous. He starts massaging my back. mmm.... he is good :P I m secretly enjoying the massage. Vietnamese massage is totally different to Thai massage. He decides to climb on my back and walk! Umm hello, dude, why don't you walk on the floor.  He puts my clothes back on serves me tea after the 1.5 hour massage. I say thanks to him hoping he wont remember my face and tip him 100,000 dong - yeah i m a generous b!tch :P
I head to the temple to meet Mr. laxmanan's mum. He sees me and tells me his mum is doing a special Puja (prayer) for me and has made special Prashad (blessed food). How sweet! I take pics with his mum and he introduces me to his wife, we talk for a bit and invites me to dinner the next day. Awww such sweet people. I say bye to them and come to my guesthouse. Finally,  I check in!
I go to my room and meet my shirtless roommate Scott - Not quite the sight I look forward to as I enter my dorm room. Scott is a 50 something american going through a mid life crisis holidaying in VN for 3 months. Then another roommate comes in. Lydia, zest a leetal quite French girl. We say hi and head off to bed.
I try to sleep while still thinking about my day - the strangers I met, the places I went, the food I ate and how I can forget, the massage I had :P...hmmm good day me thinks!

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