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Monday, November 4: Day 196 – Famous Hotels

We leave Vung Tau with our bags and lunches packed and say goodbye to our lizard friend. We have learned to coexist.

We arrive back in Saigon and check in to a modern hotel called The Reverie Saigon which some say is the best hotel in the entire country of Vietnam.

The Reverie Saigon is in the Times Square building and is about four years old. Within the 39 floors there are residential apartments, shopping malls, conference rooms, etc.

Rob told me that this Avalon Mekong River Cruise Tour is the jewel of our trip and it starts with a five-star hotel. It is a jaw dropper!!

Here is the divan at check-in. I was thinking about buying it, but shipping made the purchase prohibitive.

What a view from our 35th floor room of nearby the 86-floor Bitexco Financial Tower with hellipad!

And incredible amenities:

Automatic curtains which close with the touch of a button…a sheer day curtain and a heavier light blocking night curtain.

Bathtub with a TV and even has a toilet with a heated seat!!

Swimming pool with views and jacuzzis.

Here is the view while floating on your back listening to the music from the underwater speakers.

And an oil shower in the spa. It sprays on a light mist.

When I went into the spa for a sauna and steam, the attendant took me into the dressing room to show me how the locker works. There were about five young partially dressed Asian girls who gasped in horror at the sight of me! I guess that a stranger that was about twice their size made me seem like a monster!!

The attendant gave me slippers, a shower cap and some disposable underwear. “Do I need to use all of these?” “Yes.”

And last but not least, the breakfast buffet. Find Rob in his natural habitat!

There were glass walls behind the buffet line so one could watch the chefs prepare the breakfast dishes.

Our waitress asked if we would like fresh coconut water. Sure, you don’t get that opportunity at a Holiday Inn Express! (Note the bee pollen sprinkled on the granola!)

Here is the hallway to the elevators.

I saw this tag on the door. I had never seen this before. Usually it would say DO NOT DISTURB, but this is reversed. They stocked our minibar daily with complimentary drinks, chips and even a candy bar!!

The housekeepers were always bowing when they saw us. They wound up my battery charging cord with a twist tie! They made up the rooms at night with deluxe chocolates on our pillow and a “fire” on the TV screen when we returned for the night.

Rex Hotel

We met with our group for a walking tour. We headed for the famous Rex Hotel where daily briefings for the journalists occured every day during the Vietnam War. It was dubbed the “Five O’clock Follies”!

It was fun to get a drink on the rooftop bar on the fifth floor. We were told that Vietnam Vets who come back to visit Vietnam want to come here. Barb ordered a lovely jade colored drink!!

Transportation in Vietnam

Motorbikes are king. Vietnam uses more motorbikes than any other country – about 45 million motorbikes for 96 million people. Honda is the most popular brand. It lasts a long time and is reliable and economical. They can travel 120 miles per gallon. It is easy to repair and easy to resell. Its value is maintained at about 70% of the purchase price which is around $1,200. Some Hondas from 1966 have been handed down for three generations.

Honda is the generic word for motorbike, even if one has another brand, it would still be referred to as a Honda.

The only exception is when someone buys a high end motorbike called the SH Honda which costs around $12,000.

Everything is carried on a motorbike. Cows, refrigerators, etc. Policeman can write tickets if you are carrying a load bigger than yourself, although we see many people violating this.

Phi had bought a refrigerator and told them to deliver at four when he got off work. Phi was upset when it arrived at noon and asked him why he delivered at noon. He said that the policemen are not around during the noon hour.

Also, only two adults can legally ride on a motorbike. The policeman will not stop those with additional small children because he doesn’t like to hear children cry.

He will stop three adults. However, when they see a policeman, one person gets off and walks until the policeman is out of site and then he hops back on.

Vietnam exports a lot of crude oil because they have only one refinery. They must import gas.

Each year 200,000 people move to Saigon…and they bring their motorbikes. The first subway is being built in a joint venture with Japan. People are happy about this as the Japanese make good products. China not so much. It will be finished next year which is what they said last year!!


A motorbike lot can have parking for a few thousand motorbikes. They find it by personalizing it, but how do you get out?? One tells the attendant when they will return, and the motorbikes are parked accordingly.

The government limits car purchases by imposing numerous taxes which are about 300% of the purchase price. These are an import tax, luxury tax, VAT (value added tax), registration, license and tag.

The most popular car is the Toyota. A Rolls Royce is a personal advertisement. People are impressed with the person in the car and buys his products.

I have noticed that when I wear my conical hat in the city, it is like wearing overalls in New York City.

Here is a children’s toy for a doll that reflects the culture: A street cart.

I heard a woman singing karaoke and saw that she was also a street vendor. Vietnam’s Got Talent!!!

Later, we went to a photo gallery of the famous photographer Rehahn. It was very hard to find. We went up these stairs.

Here is a display of his work. The middle row topic is called ethnic smile. And on the bottom row is a picture of the man that we met on our bike ride in Hoi An with his late wife. He is a worldwide celebrity.

Here is a close-up!!

Below is the picture that we took of him while in Hoi An. Sometimes people say that one looks like their dog. In this case, I think that it is true as I compare his beard to the dog’s tail!

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