Saturday, February 27, 2010

February 26th – Ho Chi Minh City – Day 2

This morning, we got a taxi (again on the meter – we're getting good at this), to the Botanical and Zoological Gardens. Again, these had been laid out by the French – even if the French colonial times were pretty brutal, their legacy of architecture and town planning is pretty good.

As it was a Saturday, there were lots of locals enjoying the day with their families. There was a stage which had constant shows of varying quality, by acrobats, jugglers, fire eaters, and singers – all blasted out over a PA system that had been turned up to number 11. Not a very restful environment for the poor animals incarcerated here. We went to see the elephants, where the sight of a poor bull elephant, chains round his legs and with his tusks sawn off, pacing around mindlessly, was enough for the animal lover in Tracy, and she refused to see any more animals. I carried on, and saw some beautiful white tigers who looked as bored out of their minds as the go-go girls in Patpong, hippos, rhinos, lions and orang-u-tans. It left you feeling pretty sorry for the animals, although the enclosures were generally of a decent size and they seemed in fairly good physical, if not mental, health.

We then did a bit of a walking tour, through the backstreets of the town, again hopping into air-conditioned shops to escape the sapping heat, and having a typical Vietnamese lunch of French baguette and brioche – again, those French weren't all bad!