I’ve never been an efficient sightseer, mostly because I don’t like being on a schedule when I’m traveling. Bar some essential Tripadvisor tips and basic Google Maps searches, I generally let a place unfold as organically as I can, and I definitely don’t care whether I manage to fit in the top twenty, ten or even five most important sights on a particular trip.
And no – it’s not about the slightly clichéd and rather pretentious “living like a local” thing. It’s just that when I’m on holiday and I can’t be arsed ticking monuments and churches off checklists. I much prefer exploring random streets and frequenting seedy bars, simply enjoying what I find along the way.
That’s why – on this particular day – I was tempted to ignore the brochures advertising Ho Chi Minh City’s Reunification Palace in favour of a rather attractive park-side bar with open terrace and some pumping tunes, but I ignored my instincts for once and headed in.
They can be hit and miss, these institutional monuments, but this one didn’t disappoint me. It was originally called the Independence Palace, and it was used by the South Vietnamese president during the Vietnam War (thank you Wikipedia).
It took a bit of a battering during the war but it survived, and got renamed the Reunification Palace following – well – the reunification of North and South Vietnam.
So today it’s full of grand rooms, dark bunkers, soviet-era furniture and military gadgets. And it has the best venue for a spectacular rooftop booze-up that I’ve seen in a very long time.
Come inside and take a look.