September 30, 2011 Friday Shopping Tour Saigon
We didn’t have as much travelling on the busy roads of Saigon today, but we managed to ‘hit the shops’ a little. After another encounter with the breakfast bar (those breakfasts are taking much of our time now), we coached out to the Chinese Market, about 40 minutes away. The Chinese Market is the wholesalers market, where the trade stores from all over the region come to buy for their shops. There are around 1 million Chinese in Saigon and they seem to have a tight grip on commerce here too. No-one purchased any goods at the wholesalers market but we quickly gained an education in what is produced in mass in this very busy nation. Shoes, hats, bags, linen flowers, kitchen utensils, material, food, grains, nuts, etc.
Following our market tour, we made our way through the tens of thousands of motorbikes to a Chinese temple where some of our group offered prayers. Then we travelled on to a lacquer factory. In a general sense, lacquer is a somewhat imprecise term for a clear or colored varnish that dries by solvent evaporation and often a curing process as well that produces a hard, durable finish, in any sheen level from ultra matte to high gloss and that can be further polished as required. It is also used for “lacquer paint”, which typically denotes a paint that dries to a more than usually hard and smooth surface. (Thanks Mr. Wikipedia for that explanation.) Photos were not allowed to be taken here. So we went from a very low quality market to a very ‘hip’ shop where Koreans were doing large business deals on quality furniture.
It was planned to then visit Saigon Shopping Plaza, but we changed our minds and went to the general market in Saigon. Merchandise is displayed in an organized fashion but you have to walk one behind the other, as the aisles were so narrow. This is where you are told, “Buy from me. I have a best price for you.” Never leave a deal without a fight on price – Haha! Lyn bought a smart Vietnamese dress reduced from $85 to $60. I was looking at a vest. It started at $85. I offered $8. The vendor came down to $35 and wanted me to give her my best price. I moved away and then heard her say “$10”. What a bargain I never took up!
We had a free half an afternoon. Some of our group took the view of Saigon in from the highest building in the city. Others just ventured to shops. Some took in the ‘view’ of the swimming pool. And I heard that some even had some sleep.
During the evening, our guide took us to a Vietnamese restaurant on the 14th floor of a swish building. The meals are so cheap and the food tasty in this country.
Seniors Moment – (Why is it most of these stories are about men? This one is on me – again!) We were nearing our hotel on our return from the shopping tour and I reminded myself that I should pick up my pack on my way out of the coach – it is still there. And we are packing tomorrow morning for our coach ride to the Mekong Delta. Oh, well….