Early morning we have our final plunge swim, dress, pack up, and check out of the Amano’i. It is about an 1 1/2 hour drive to the Can Ranh Airport (major US airport in American war). A 35 minute flight and we arrive back in Ho Chi Minh City where we pick up our previous guide – Joe – and driver.
Since we spent little time exploring in the central city area, we decided to do some walking starting around the Post Office, Notre Dam church toward the Opera House (above). The construction of the subway has torn this area up almost to non recognition in some areas. The old hotels, Rex, Continental, Caravel, have received or in the process of receiving make-overs. The era of high end retail has managed to capture the street real estate’s eyes and wallets of visitors to this area. We checked out the lobby of the new Revierie Hotel- on par with a Dubai Lobby.
We checked out the Park Hyatt for a Vietnamese lunch at SquareOne. It remains an excellent refuge in the city. The salon lobby of the hotel was packed.
To round out our tourist edges we visited the Bao Tang Phito, Fito Museum, the museum of Vietnamese traditional medicine. The wood house of one of the Vietnamese fathers of traditional medicine was moved from Hanoi to the south to this site. The wood structure and carvings are extremely detailed. The artifacts of herbal pharmacology including early jars, grinders, and potions stored in rice wine were worth seeing. We managed to obstain from purchasing any of the local healing aids.
The last temple of the day was the large and more recent Chua Vinh-Nghiem Pagoda. Since the Buddhists were celebrating the date of baby Buddha’s birth, many people were in the temple chanting along with the monks.