Adventures of an American Seoul-Sister

Adventures and Observations of an American Seoul-Sister

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Being Michael Caine

Arriving back in Saigon from the Mekong Delta in the late afternoon left little to do after booking an evening sleeper bus out of town.  So, I decided to make a bee-line for the one and only thing I have ever wanted to do in Saigon, and that is to have coffee at the Hotel Continental just like the ever-sexy Michael Caine in The Quiet American.  If you haven't seen this movie, check it out.

The Hotel Continental is in the ritziest part of town.  Previous bus routes through other parts of the city assured me that it held much the same manic and be-trodden atmosphere as Hanoi, and what I really needed was a nice dose of Western-style luxury.  The Hotel Continental was no disappointment in this area (particularly its lavishly cool air-conditioning when entering from the 100+ temperature and 99% humidity outside).  As I entered the pristine first floor dining room, I was greeted by several crisp members of the waitstaff and escorted through the crystal-chandeliered dining room to an equal spiffy table with a view of the Opera House and Louis Vuitton.  I ordered an overpriced coffee and sat back to relax in Michael-Caine-style to watch a group of drivers polish their cyclos (aka: rickshaws) outside.

Under-dressed for the Hotel Continental, I arrived in an old gray tank top, sweat-withered linen pants, and smelly flip-flops, but that's okay because I'm American, so they assumed I'm rich, and I was content to let them believe it.  

Opera House

Not yet totally content with the level of luxury, I think to myself, "What would Michael Caine do?"  So, I swung by Chanel's to get a glimpse of the current window display.  Ahhh!  Now, that's satisfaction!

Okay, so maybe Michael Caine doesn't give a hoot about Chanel, but as a knighted Englishman, he must certainly appreciated roses.  Luckily for Michael, Chanel is next door to a lovely garden where I took some time to sit back and smell the roses (literally).  The garden fronts Uncle Ho's beautiful Communist House.

Finally satiated, I wondered back to my part of town (known as the backpackers district) and have time to see a few more things, including a flea market selling touristy knick-knacks, clothes (definitely not of Vuitton or Chanel quality), and street food.  There was also a lovely park with views of some of the larger buildings in the area.

The park near the bus stop.

Communism + Engrish = funny park rules.

This building had a cascading light display that changed colors.

Kris snapped this pic of one of the tallest and coolest-looking buildings in Saigon, veiled in the smoke of a passing motorbike.

On my next blog, I begin my exploration of Vietnam's eastern coastline along the China Sea.

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