Tuesday 27 January 2015

Day 250: Ho Chi Minh City - Burning ships

Enjoying dinner and a cocktail on the boat
Our final day in Saigon.  We said goodbye with a dinner cruise on the Saigon River, beginning with careful deliberation about which boat to take.  First we wandered along the harbour examining the options.  Several were too tacky with disco lights and loud music that I could not quite identify but suffice it to say that Debussy had no hand in the composition.  One was shutting up shop for the night (what, already?).  A couple were a bit large and impersonal, including one with a bow shaped like a fish's jaws.  Then there was a low-key wooden affair down at the end of the pier.  Could they offer us a veggie menu?  They would try.  Okay then, this was the boat for us.

We cruised along happily enough, eating course eight (or whatever it was) and looking back at neon lights dribbling down the skyscrapers then changing colour and dribbling some more.  But the real excitement came on the return journey when I saw a couple of orange lights in the sky.  We were in luck; we were in prime viewing position for an impromptu firework display.  It's just a shame that all of the rockets were orange and only one exploded at a time.  Hang on a moment, this wasn't a firework display; it was a sequence of distress flares.

Soon we could see the smoke as the fish-mouthed cruise boat flamed its way back to the harbour.  The fire engine boat was at work (my nautical terms are so well-polished) and hosing down the flames avidly, while speedboats dashed up and down the river asking other cruise boats to stand off until the situation had calmed down.  Unsurprisingly, we spent the last hour of the cruise completely ignoring the dancers on our boat and excitedly taking pictures of the burning ship until finally it shot a green flare and life on the river returned to normal.

It was lucky we weren't in the mood for loud music (not Debussy's) when we picked our ship or our evening could have seen a more dramatic end.  On that fortunate note, goodbye Vietnam!

A dramatic end to the evening with fire ships spraying water on the burning ship against the backdrop of the CBD

1 comment:

  1. Wow - you sure get around! Looking forward to long chats over beer and Prosecco at the Dodo post-Lundy!