160913 Saigon to Scenic Spirit

We have been blessed that early morning departures have not been too frequent – to date. Today’s wake up call didn’t need to be requested. We were awake, showered, packed and fed before 8:00am.

Our morning program for today before we leave Saigon, was a local walking tour and lunch. The walking tour took us from our hotel to the Opera House, on to the Notre Dame Cathedral, across the road to the Post Office and back to the hotel.

The twin spires of the red-brick neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral, built between 1877 and 1880, rise 40 meters over a square in the middle of the embassy district. The suburb Central Post Office, its metal framework designed by Gustave Eiffel, also looks onto the square. The Opera House (or Municipal Theatre), built at the beginning of the 20th century, is on a busy thoroughfare, along with art galleries, souvenir shops, the large department stores and the mosque.

Our lunch was at another restaurant, called The Refinery. It was up yet another disorganised, but with plenty of character, alleyway. Many tour groups come here for a delightfully filling lunch of four courses. The servings were on the ‘ample’ side. I managed to dispense with the main course by returning it to the waitress. (I need to stay using the clothes I have with me without having to purchase more at an ‘expanded’ size.)

Our transfer to the Scenic Spirit departed around 2:30pm headed for Mytho in the Mekong Delta about 2 hours drive away. Much of the journey is on a ‘freeway’. When we were here in 2011, each of the bridges were about 4 inches higher than the road, which meant we would have to stop, slowly get on and cross the bridge to stop and get off onto the highway again. Things have changed, a little, with some of the bridges having easier access and departure points. The road surface in the country areas is smooth with lighter traffic. After a comfort stop, there was just a short distance to the point to board the Scenic Spirit.

The Scenic Spirit is the newest and most modern passenger vessel on the Mekong. Launched in January this year, it is VERY luxurious with the main state room containing a private spa. The decor is far and beyond the social level of the people who live along the banks of the mighty Mekong River.

We only had 30 minutes to move into our room before the introduction to the ship by our Tour director, Paula. Paula worked in Africa as a Safari Director for many years before moving to Asia a few years ago. We met the Captain, the Hotel Director and various heads of departments from the 55 crew onboard.

Photoshop is sometimes a great invention animg_9208d I couldn’t help but imagine how a Vietnam family would walk through one of our garden club members garden.

If you’re interested in gardens and live near the Yarra Valley, click here to see the information, times and dates, for the Clubs Open Day in October.