The Turtle Life (Vietnam #2)

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I am a turtle; though there seem to be endless quotes about how turtles only move when they stick they neck outs (in a failed attempt to suggest that one must be daring to achieve), all those people have obviously not seen turtles being hurled in a pond. I’m quite sure they’re moving forward without having their neck outside.

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All this shelly business came about with a visit to the Emperor Jade Pagoda (73 Mai Thi Luu, District 1), getting there with the help of a taxi bike (which I absolutely love; I would just constantly take them).

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The temple is very South-East Asian: a bit chaotic, dirty and rather rural. There are people selling birds, fish and tortoises (the latter two which can be bought for 20,000 dong and then released into the pond, supposedly for good luck. “Released” might be a strong word, both because you rather throw them in and also because they probably get fished back and then resold). But I couldn’t help but want one little goggly eyed critter.

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This is Bob. That is where he was thrown into. Sure, he is given in that horrid plastic cup and people probably just pour him into it. But I wanted a more deeper connection. I’m sure we all feel like Bob sometimes – trapped in a plastic cup, constantly thrown into the pond where we finally think we attained freedom only to be recycled by an old pruned lady.

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Bob’s Pond was rather fishy with only a few of his brethren there. However, a bit towards the back was a great pond filled with bigger turtles. Perhaps, if his genes and life expectancy permitted, he would one day be part of the slightly smelly but seemingly more free pond of turtles.

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The rest of the pagoda contained some locals that would pray and light incense but nothing overly exciting.

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Meanwhile, outside, the pigeons seemed to rule the domain. Unchecked, they just sat anywhere they pleased and started munching from some bucket. I’m not entirely sure I want to know what was in it.

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It was time for greener pastures, so I ventured for a very short stop at the Ben Tranh market (I’m holding more for other days), where there was a mixture of foreigners, live produce and rats, tho one could never be sure which was which.

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Drank a huge coffee, ate some Pho (at Pho 24, which seems to be a chain of restaurants in several countries, according to the Menu), visited a big old post office.

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Then went to the Bitexco Tower where it was rumoured to have the best views of the city. Normally people would go to the Skydeck, bit that cost money. Instead, I would suggest going to a bar called the Alto (on the 52nd floor), where you could use that money to buy a drink instead (only opens at 5pm, but it’s happy hour from 5-8!). Just ask at reception and a lovely lady will lead the way.

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I ended up paying 270,000 dong (about 15$) for two drinks, but they were very good and you would get this little bowl of popcorn and almonds. So good. So tasty. And great view. Mstly only white ppl tho (there were some Japanese people there).

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Afterwards Andrew picked me up to take me to this great little vietnamese restaurant built in an old colonial house (9/10 Dang Tat, Tan Dinh, District 1). The place is called Dat Ban Truoc.

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We had some pumpkin flowers sautéed in garlic, fried tofu with pepper-salt and lime and I had some pork ribs in sweet n sour sauce (Andrew is vegetarian so he is missing out on all the delicious meat).

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