Frogs in the belly get you the jump on Saigon

Saigon's jumping chicken: high in calcium.
I can't even really look at this photo any more: not after knowing that one of these beasts is now part of me.

In a life spent putting weird things into mouth, Saigon's 'jumping chicken' was a fairly thoughtless decision. It's only now, afterwards, when I look at the photos, that I'm feeling the qualms.

The frogs (apparently, though they look like toads, they're definitely frogs) are part of an after-dark tour on the back of vintage Vespas through the streets and alleyways of Saigon.

It's a wind-in-your-hair, frogs-in-your-belly extravaganza, made moreso because of its simplicity: restore a few gorgeous old Vespas, grab a handful of punters and take them to a few out-of-the-way eating haunts and bars around the city, experiencing life as the locals live it.

The locals cruise the streets, shoulder-to-shoulder with their mates, slowing down for a chat. Long-haired girls in hot pants gossip and do phone. Mums charge determinedly between with kids in front. I even saw one family - mum, dad and a boy about 18 months, who was seated on a wicker chair, its legs wedged across bike's the petrol tank to keep the little fella from toppling into the traffic.

Knee to knee with the rest of Saigon, cruising the streets on the back of a bike thrashes sitting in a sealed taxi, though a facemask would go down well in peak hour. Preferably one with a pirate's skull-and-crossbones on it.

And if the thought of a little traffic bingle has your knickers in a knot, the frogs are allegedly high in calcium: so at least your bones would knit back quickly.

Trip details:
Saigon After Dark tour costs US$72 a person for four hours, includes Vespa, driver, guide and all food and drinks, Vietnam Vespa Adventures

Getting there: Vietnam Airlines flies daily from Melbourne and Sydney to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), costs from $1180, vietnamairlines.com

Staying there: The five-star Caravelle is the grande dame of Saigon's hotel scene, and will be relaunching a new look over the coming year. Costs from VND660,000++/A$299 deluxe room/night (84-8) 3823 4999 caravellehotel.com Newest kid on the blog, the four-star Novotel Saigon Centre, has an opening deal which includes free wi-fi and 10 per cent off spa treatments until October 30. Costs from USD$100++ superior room/ night. +84 (0)8 3822 4866, novotel.com.



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