We’re a day behind on our Saigon to-do list, but I’m glad I spent a day getting better in bed. As today is our last day in this city (and yes, we definitely need to come back!), we had to squeeze in as much as possible. Spending almost a week in Saigon made us quite comfortable with dealing with traffic as pedestrians and as passengers in vehicles. However, we haven’t ridden a Xe Ôm (motorbike taxi) yet. Rich has a 950cc motorcycle at home and has been itching to ride one in Vietnam (though they are about 110cc – much, much slower than he is used to). If you’ve seen any videos online of the traffic in Asian countries, you understand my fear in allowing Rich to rent one until we’re in a less crowded city. Knowing now that the motorbikes and scooters have slower speed capabilities, we figured it was safe to call some Grab drivers to do the driving.
Unlike Uber, Grab is much more popular with the locals. It works the same as any other ride sharing app.
Unfortunately, the church is closed due to renovation.
The Saigon Central Post Office is located across the street from the church and is designed by Alfred Foulhoux (often erroneously credited to Gustave Eiffel – even by me! Apologies if you saw my Instagram Story).
As a postcard collector, I always carve out time in every city I visit to write well wishes to loved ones back at home.
I collect postcards only if they’re mailed from their original destination because every country has unique stamps and postmarks!
The interior of the post office.
My unhealthy plant obsession extends to the larger variety as well. In Vietnam, I’m constantly swooning over the trees like this Ficus Elastica. I have a small one in comparison at home but who knew it could have air roots like this 300 year old tree?!
Wonder what Rich does while I’m in bed? He wanders alleys seeking shirtless men (see his Instagram feed for more details @richlenke) and sometimes stumbles upon gold like this vintage store. He took me back so I can peruse myself since we love second-hand shops. It’s not easy to find but worth looking.
Back to Chợ Bến Thành for fresh made Bánh Cuốn. I’ll post a video later of this magical process.
Bánh Cuốn is a dish of rice noodles filled with ground pork and Wood Ear mushrooms with a side of Vietnamese sausage and fish sauce.
We, of course, had to spend our last day with our local guide a.k.a. my Aunt Maika. She knew I have been craving Vietnamese sea snails so she took us to Ốc Bà Cô Lốc Cốc.
Ốc Len Xào Dừa (Sea Snails in Coconut Milk)
The restaurant offers pins (think sewing) so we can get these little guys out of their shells.
Oysters on a half shell served with dragon fruit, mango, and topped with a passion fruit slushie.
The variety of sea snails offered at the establishment.
We then went for a walk in a beautiful park in District 7 of Ho Chi Minh City. Pretty swanky if you ask us!
THIS MADE MY DAY
We finally worked it into all of our schedules to meet with my friend, Danny, who has been living in Saigon for close to 12 years as a film director. Opposite than the nice clean restaurant we ate earlier for seafood, we got the real “Anthony Bourdain” experience sitting on blue plastic chairs surrounded by rude Southern Vietnamese men cussing and throwing clam shells on the ground – and we loved every minute of it!
Rich’s favorite dish of the day – grilled octopus tentacles. Danny explained that the octopus are caught fresh same day and usually run out early on in the night at Ốc Oanh.
More coconut sea snails!
Rich started to cough a lot due to the smoke from the outdoor grill but we soon found out why…these spicy, dry-seasoned crab claws! So delicious.
Our second seafood feast!
On our way out, we caught a glimpse of how fresh the octopus were!
We ate on Vĩnh Khánh Street which is known for its seafood but Danny felt it was also important to show us the neighboring alley which is frequented by locals for similar delicacies.
Back to the main road to make plans for our next stop!
My aunt joined us again for cocktail punch at Nhà Hàng Beirut.
It’s an open air Mediterranean restaurant with hookahs and belly dancers so it was due time for Rich to light a cigar.
That’s a wrap, Saigon! We’ve heard over and over that 6 days is not long enough and it’s safe to say, we feel the same way. We can’t wait to come back to enjoy more of the sights, smells, and sounds of the city. Ok, we could do without some of the smells, but even they’re worth it to enjoy the food and drinks, and to spend time with the amazing friends and family we have here in Saigon. Thank you to everyone who took us out, looked us up, and made time for us in your busy schedules. We’ll have nothing but fond memories and many things to look forward to on our return.