I am a London-based Digital PR/Social Media/SEO Consultant, music producer/anorak, deep sea diver, avid cyclist, worldwide traveller and football-loving technology bod! This page functions as a kind of online scrapbook/resource featuring my favourite blog posts and news items as well as my own personal reviews and recommendations in the worlds of music, sport, travel and technology!

Monday, 28 December 2009

London to Saigon

After a near 20-hour journey from London via Doha I arrived in Ho Chi Mingh at 7pm. I spent most of the first of half of my outward journey sitting next to Laura, a lovely 30-year-old English teacher from Winchester who works at one of the top universities in Bangkok and has lived in Thailand for nearly two years. I had planned to just sit back and listen to 3 classic Led Zepplin albums but that wasn't to be..

We talked at great lengths about the political climate and culture in Thailand, some of her students (who include Thaksin Sinawatra's son), high society Thai life, the problems with the UK as well as our shared love for diving and travelling and she kindly offered me advice about the best places to visit in Vietnam as well as providing me with her mates mobile number who runs a diving school down South for a killer deal.

We arrived at Doha, sank a few beers...some more beers and then ended up blagging our way into the airport member's lounge and sleeping on a couple of couches in the bar area before being offered a free shower and breakfast the next day. Cheeky but it had to be done as I was feeling as scuzzy as hell..:) Laura soon boarded her connecting flight to Bangkok and I dashed (along with this mentalist Russian couple) to my departure gate to Ho Chi Mingh..

After a further 7 hour flight, a few hours kip, watching an insightful Les Paul documentary about the invention of the electric guitar and multi-track tape recording and the disturbingly brilliant District 9, I touched down in Saigon, changed my clothes and flagged down a taxi with a Korean businessman who was also heading into the region of De Tham.

Upon arrival, I immediately found myself spun-out from the jetlag, the interesting culture shock, the comforting yet overwhelming heat as well as the electrifying pace of the city. Having been to Thailand several times before, Saigon seems like a cleaner, more upmarket and civilised version of Bangkok; so much buzz and life on the surface, with the obvious darker undercurrents of poverty and corruption bubbling under the surface. Buildings, parks, even roads were glowed by New Year lights and flowers i.e orchids, roses, marigolds etc. Christmas was still being celebrated and there was an international food festival and carnival in the centre of city which seemed to attract thousands of revellers..like Nottintg Hill carnival on acid - except without the booty bass and gangstas.

I hopped out and ordered a cold Saigon beer (for around 70p) at the Buffalo Bar on the corner of De Tham while I waited for an old friend to come and meet me after he finished work as arranged. Adam is a well-established international English teacher who's taught all over the world including Thailand, Italy, Japan and the UK. We met at University while working in a market research centre and have remained friends ever since. He's been in Saigon for four months now and managed to book me a room in his Na Thram guesthouse for a very cheap rate. We checked in, had a quick shower and then headed out into town where we caught up with the Premiership football scores, ate some pizza and had a few whiskeys at some local bars before heading back around 1am.

The usual happened - as you'd expect with a bustling 3rd world country such as Vietnam. We got appraoched by all many of hookers, drug dealers offering 'gogaine' and 'marrywaana' but due to our Grade A diversion skills and some of Adam's local mates, they all soon left us alone. Looking forward to tomorrow where a trip to the Chien Tranh War Museum is in order...

Posted via email from Jeremy Lloyd Travel Diaries

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