ABOARD AMADARA-One last day in Saigon begins at the Ben Thanh Market for a last batch of shopping and haggling. Wondering how it is all going to fit in my suitcase, I join two travel pals for lunch at the highly touted Cuc Gach Quan. Alas, perhaps AmaDara has spoiled us for the cuisine did not meet our expectations.
Back at the Sofitel, still pondering purchases vs. space, we decide to treat ourselves to a foot massage. Instead of seeking out a cheaper version we admit energy levels are flagging and opt for the convenience of the hotel’s spa.
Good choice. As timing worked out, we each wind up with three (!) treatments for what one would have cost in the States.
Refreshed, we walk to Quan Bui, a restaurant recommended by BDang Bao Hieu,AmaWaterways’ Vietnam partner. No beauty from the outside but oh, the food. Best yet as we indulged in the honey chicken specialty, a hot pot and our hands-down favorite, bong nien ly keo toi, stir fried Tonken jasmine with garlic.
Sleep with visions of packed but unclose-able suitcase.
Last Day Dilemma
What to do with checkout at noon and an airport transfer at 8:45 p.m.? See more of Saigon and face 38 hours of travel in sweaty clothes over a sweaty body?
I had intended to see a few museums, but chose to get out early, wander the streets and watch the city wake to another day.
Encountered excited members of the North Texas University symphony arriving at the Opera House to rehearse for their evening concert. Watched street vendors arrive and unpack their wares, shop owners setting up for the day and the swirl of motor bikers expand like puddles after a rain.
A quick shower, change of clothes and wonder of wonder, the suitcase zippers zipped shut. Lunched on a sandwich in the business center while downloading photos and catching up on posts, joined members of the AmaDara family for a dinner of bar food in the Boudoir Lounge and it was time for a mega-marathon of airports, flights, connections, waits and more flights.
All good things must end but the memories will last long after the last landing.
Travel-weary, jet-lagged and unsure of date or time, I wondered if I would do it again until sun coming up like thunder couplets from Kipling came to mind along with the itinerary of Ama Waterways’ cruise to Mandalay on Myanmar’s Ayeyarwady River.
Oh yeah, I’m hooked.