As you enter the terminal in Ho Chi Mihn City (formally Saigon) you are greeted by the plain, cold furnishings, decorations, and the drab layout of a few state run retail stores. The presence of the Vietnamese Red Star and a few Hammer and Sickles give you the distinct impression that you are in a Communist country.
Then you step outside……………
Into a whole different world, a world where there are shops and street vendors on every corner. There seemed to be more sellers than buyers. Saigon is definitely a Capitalistic society.
I arrived late at night and was greeted by Quyen friend of a friend. She and her uncle, who conveniently owned a cab, whisked me away to my hotel suite where I got some much needed rest after a grueling 28 hour trip.
In Saigon, no one there calls it Ho Chi Minh, there is an imperceptible buzz, an energy that washes over you and makes you jump out of bed early and watch the sun rise. The day starts at sunrise in Saigon and continues well after dark, even on week day nights. Karaoke bars can be found on every street corner, their music blaring until 10:00 pm, with odd sounding melodies sung by some of the locals. Even the hotels have gotten into the Karaoke scene by providing private Karaoke rooms where you and your party can rent it by the hour. You can order drinks from the bar and you also have your own bathroom!
cappuccino and a light breakfast at the Creperie & Café,( http://english.vietnamnet.vn/buys/2006/11/636353/) located at 5 Han Thuyen St, Dist 1 just across from Le Duan Park. You can call them for directions at 011(84-8)8-299-227. They are open from 7AM until 11PM.
Then it was time for a morning warm up with a relaxing massage at one of two spas I frequented. My friend, and fellow work mate here in Florida, Nicole Brown A.P., a Vietnamese-American, had given me a gift certificate for a 90 minute massage at the Glow Spa, much to my delight and surprise.
As you walk in the main entrance located in the upper mezzanine level of the Eden Mall, 106 Nguyen Hue Blvd, Dist 1, you are greeted by the distinctive mandarin orange, retro-modern style and a cup of hot Jasmine tea. You are given plenty of time to relax, sip your tea and select from their menu of services. No rush here. The staff are very pleasant and respectful.
You are then led to a room by your Massage Therapist or Esthetician depending on what service you selected, and given time to undress and lock up your belongings in an Armoire located right next to your treatment table.
After your massage you are directed to either a shower in your room, if a VIP, or to one just outside of the room. When you are finished your Therapist will come back and help straighten you out, comb your hair and make sure you have the right shoe on the right foot.
Then you are led back to the front waiting area where they serve you another cup of Jasmine tea with refills until you are sufficiently alert at which time they quietly place your bill on the table and wait until you are ready to pay.
My 90 minute deep tissue massage was only $55. Less than half compared to what you would pay in a comparable spa in the states. Some of the local massage shops only charge $12, but the extra money was definitely worth the extra pampering. After all, when you are on vacation, you want to be pampered, don’t you?[affmage source=”amazon” results=”10″]saigon,massage[/affmage]