Early rise today to leave the ship for a whole day tour of Ho Chi Minh City highlights. There were so many people lined up to leave the ship and the organisation was massive with more than 10 buses waiting to pick up tourists while others were making their own ways, presumably in privately-organised trips. The ship docked in the container port and it was 1-2 hours to the centre of the city, depending on the traffic. The trip was pretty bumpy at times due to speed bumps on the roads and poor suspension. We sat in the back of the bus as we have worked out in the past that most travellers avoid the back but the back seat sits higher and so seeing the scenery and/or traffic is better.
It was a good day and jam-packed so we got back later than expected. We went to the old Presidential Palace, now known as the reunification palace.The second floor had an internal garden with a pond and the rooms were decorated in a colour coded manner – green for tranquillity in the meeting room (wonder if it works!); gold for prosperity and so on. The lower floor was the bunker area and old equipment from the last war is kept there.
The next stop was lunch at the Windsor which was a buffet of Asian cuisine (possibly more Chinese than Vietnamese in style).Then on to Notre Dam Cathedral and the Post Office. Then it was a quick viewing of the wholesale markets and an ancient Chinese pagoda. The pagoda was decorated with enameled figures, dating back to the 18th century.