Our final tour in Ho Chi Minh City was called Saigon Coffee Culture. There were only five of us. And our guide, the driver and the assistant driver (who’s job mostly seems to be to spray our hands with sanitizer every time we reboard the bus. It’s hot – I suggested he just hose us down, top to bottom. He pretended he didn’t understand me)
This was an early tour – we were on the road shortly after 07:00. We drove part way into the city, and then stopped for Pho – noodle soup – for breakfast. It was very good. First coffee of the morning – basically espresso with a shot of sweetened condensed milk. Rawr- ready time face the day now!
Our second stop was to see a building that had been an apartment building for government officials back in the day but has since been converted into a warren of small businesses – bars, coffee shops, clothing stores. Machinery repair on the ground level (it takes a lot of mechanics to keep those millions of motorbikes running). We took the elevator up to the third floor (small charge, refundable if you buy something. Or you can walk)
We went to see a tiny little artisan donut shop – arriving just as the donuts were ready for display (and purchase)
I did not buy the popcorn topped donut. Mine had green icing, which I assume is either matcha or pistachio. Haven’t eaten it yet – I’ll report back later.
When we returned to street level we walked across the street to look back at the building …
Next stop was another coffee shop for filter coffee. You may be familiar with this – a little metal filter is put on a glass, ground coffee and hot water added and the coffee brews into the cup. Add sugar or condensed milk and voila- coffee number two for the day.
By the time we left this coffee shop it was getting pretty hot. Time for an iced coffee! Before you all start yelling about the ice – commercial enterprises here don’t make their own ice. It’s expensive to make and takes a lot of time and space. In fact when we were leaving Dosh, the donut shop, the elevator door opened and there was the ice delivery man with a dolly loaded with a near 5 foot stack of bags of ice. He tossed one out on the landing and headed on up. I said something about ‘The Iceman Cometh, literally’ they all looked at me blankly and we walked down to the ground level rather than wait.
Anyhoo – next stop was pretty much a hole in the wall in an alley with a long lineup. They were making coffee like we’ve seen in Singapore- a long cotton bag with a metal loop handle with coffee grounds in it and then the water is poured through. This is a small operation – literally a charcoal fire powering it all.
It was delicious. However. Three high test coffees before noon may not have been prudent. By the time we got back to the ship I could feel my hair vibrating. The heat was making me sleepy but there was no sleep happening for this girl for awhile! At two pm we cast off and headed down the river. It takes about three hours to clear the river and enter the sea. Which was pretty bouncy in a very strange pattern. It took until about nine pm when we made the turn into the gulf of Thailand before things settled down. Our butler came in to check on us, took a look, came back with a bowl of candied ginger and instructed us to order tomato soup from room service. Which we did, and he brought and we felt better. Talking to folks today there were a lot of people feeling woozy last night. But today we’re back to regular seas and we are bound for Bangkok.
Last picture – Sunday afternoon traffic through the bus window. Few cars lots of motorbikes.