Wednesday, 12 December 2012

So long, Saigon

Having said farewell to Felix and Tom, I spent my last full day in Ho Chi Minh City on my own, finding companionship with all sorts of creatures at the zoo (as you do). There were lots of elephants, giraffes, lions, tigers and monkeys to keep me entertained, although some of the Vietnamese visitors seemed to take more interest in me than the animals!

I then walked to the Jade Emperor Pagoda, where there were numerous gargoyle-like figures casting disapproving looks at me, so I hastily moved on to Ben Thanh market for a lunch of chao tom (grilled sugar cane rolled in shrimp paste) and banh xeo (a gigantic crepe stuffed with prawns, meat, beansprouts and vegetables, then eaten rolled in lettuce leaves).

I had some time to kill in the afternoon so decided to give some of the bargain beauty treatments a try - with mixed success. I passed on a haircut after seeing a woman having her locks tugged aggressively in an attempt to de-tangle them, and instead chose an eyebrow wax and a pedicure. The pedicure was great, but as for the eyebrows, let's just say that I'm thankful that I won't be back home for a good two weeks yet - rather than wax under the eyebrow, they wax above it here, to rather bizarre effect...

Fortunately I was able to drown my sorrows as a family friend who works in Ho Chi Minh City invited me for drinks in the evening. We eventually ended up at a Vietnamese gay bar, which was the first time during my trip that I've felt completely at ease in a masculine environment - no staring, no attempts to make me buy something or take a motorbike trip, just lots of good fun (and plenty of bad dancing!).

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