I book a couple of day tours in Saigon. Logistically it just seemed easier to do so then plan my own transportation to all the different sites. There is a travel agency in the lobby of my hotel’s sister hotel. I book my tours through them. The first tour I book is a Ho Chi Minh City day tour. It is a 1/2 day tour with an optional Cu Chi tunnels afternoon tour (another post about that).
Not loving my tour companions for today’s day tour. They show up 30 min late because their breakfast is more important than the rest of the tour and now we are still waiting to leave for them to finish their cigarettes. Eventually they get in the van and we head to our first destination.
Independence Palace, or Reunification Palace
First stop is the Independence Palace. This headquarters of the South Vietnamese almost seems frozen in time.
We are given a tour of the underground bunker. The original maps and charts are still in place from the war. You can see how they kept track of troops and casualties.
After the reunification palace we stopped by an old temple Taoist temple
Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ngoc Hoang Pagoda)
Temple for a Taoist god built in early 1900’s.
War Remnants museum
Next we stop at the very powerful War Remnants Museum.
A thorough museum on the vietnam war but from a south vietnamese perspective.
*TRIGGER WARNING* There is a very hard to see photo exhibit on the affects of agent orange on the population. One would have to be a monster to come out of there without tears in their eyes. Out of respect I did not take photos of that section. Only the piece of art below.
We complete the morning tour with a visit to the historic post office and the Notre Dame Cathedral.
The Notre Dame Cathedral
Historic Central Post Office
Part two of my day tour includes a visit to the Cu chi tunnels. I’ll post about that later.
Finally it is time to start seeing the goods. Today is the busy sightseeing day but first it is the Giza Pyramids and the Sphinx.
We start early with a drive where we go by the new Egyptian Museum (soon to be open?) and we can see the pyramids off in the distance.
After looking at the pyramids at a couple different angles it is time to climb on in.
The crowds inside were not as bad as I had been led to believe. It could be because there was some men outside limiting the amount of people who could enter at one time. One guy acted as a sort of guide for us by telling us when to go where and then he rushed us out. After we left it seems like he wasn’t there in an official capacity and we probably could have just ignored him. He was looking for tips at the end. I guess it did help keep it less crowded inside but I didn’t like my experience rushed.
Also we had the option of visiting the tomb of Seshem Nefer Theti.
Soon we get into the car for another vantage point to see the sphinx.
The sphinx is under repair and the don’t let us get too close.
After our stop at the sphinx our guide took us to a location where we had a demonstration on how to make papyrus. Finished products were for sale of course but I did not purchase any.
Finally we broke up the day with lunch. Our guide asked us where we wanted to eat and we assumed he would take us somewhere to get something locals eat. He suggested Mc Donalds and we all thought he was joking. Turns out he was serious. He stopped at McDonalds for lunch in the interest of time. Oh well, it happens some times.
A couple days after my not so great green tour I take the Cappadocia Red Tour. I thought I may have overreacted a couple days ago but after taking the red tour with a different vendor I know I am correct in my opinion. The red tour is well organized and the guide is very personable. His name is Sonny and he made our day sunny.
First stop is a view of Uchisar Castle.
Next is Goreme Open Air Museum
A favorite of mine in the Open Air Museum is the Dark Church. It is a separate ticketed option but well worth it in my opinion. The artwork inside is very nice (no photos allowed).
I have no idea why they call it that. <sarcasm>
Avanos pottery demonstration
The pottery is nice but it is way too early to start weighing my backpack down so I forgo any purchases.
Then we stopped at lunch. I don’t remember what I ate but I had to try all the desserts on the buffet.
Before we went back out sightseeing we stopped for a silk demonstration. It is interesting to learn how silk items are made.
Aaaannd the demonstration of the rugs. Some are nice enough to tempt me but they are so expensive. I just can’t purchase one….especially with no job and no permanent place to stay.
After the tough sell we stopped at Devrent Valley where there are a bunch of rocks that look like things.
Finally we finish out the day at Paşabağ
Great day, great tour guide. All the magic of Cappadocia in one day.
Ephesus is an important Greek and then later Roman city. It was an active river city for commerce but over time diminished due to receding waters. It was also further destroyed by invaders and earthquakes.
I’ve been to Greece, I’ve been to Rome, and I have seen all kinds of ruins elsewhere but Ephesus is up there in impressiveness.
I catch the minibus from bus station in Selcuk which is not far from my guesthouse. They drop you off the opposite way you logically want to go. Once I entered the gates I pushed through the crowds of tour groups to get to the start on the other side.
It is a hot and crowded day but I don’t let that get in the way of admiring this town.
Everything in Ephesus is impressive but my favorite is viewing the terrace houses which is a separate ticketed entrance.
Not only is it covered from the sun and less crowded but you can get an idea on how the people (rich) lived back in the days. For them to be so close to the commerce they were probably pretty wealthy.
During my northern Spain road trip I scheduled a stop at El Capricho de Gaudí in Camillos. Comillas is a small town along the northern stretch of Spain. It is busy with day trippers like myself but the big drawl is Gaudi’s work.
El Capricho is one of his earlier works and one of the few outside Barcelona. He was working on his craft but this is definitely the most “normal” of works I have seen by him thus far.