I've never seen anywhere quite like Saigon. Even Bangkok doesn't compare. The sheer volume of people is overwhelming, as is the controlled chaos on the roads. Westerners label it as ‘crazy’ driving, but I was honestly impressed. No road rage, no accidents - in fact, it was the most respectful display of driving I've seen in my life. The city had a cool vibe, and all the people we encountered were really friendly and interested in our backgrounds. There were the important tourist sights, including the Reunification Palace and the Ho Chi Minh City Museum, however the highlight of our visit was the food. I will do more in depth posts on the food of this trip once I am home. I don't quite have the time to detail the brilliance of it all just yet :)
Here is a brief outline of how we spent our whirlwind visit...
Cocktails at the Sheraton Rooftop bar, a great way to view the city.
Fresh coconuts on the street, to stay hydrated as we explored the city. I think I had 3 coconuts in the first day – overload? Perhaps.
Pho. We did it, we ate pho in the land of pho. If I had a bucket list, this would be on it. Tick!
Massages. A tidy US$13 for 80 minutes, yes please.
And food, delicious food! Banh Xeo, Cha Ca, Pho - the list goes on. As I mentioned above, there is too much to say, and too little time. We tried some amazing food, and the best, of course, was off the street.
Saigon, you impressed us greatly. Many people do not rate this city, and I guess I can understand why. It is big, crowded, hot and not particularly attractive. But Ben and I always seem to warm to those cities that many dislike. Athens, for example, will remain a favourite city of ours, while many disregard it. We will look back at our time in Saigon fondly, and rememeber the great food, friendly people and controlled chaos. To quote the great Dennis Denuto, from The Castle, “it’s the vibe…”
On Sunday evening, we caught the overnight train to Da Nang. 15 hours spent in a Russian-style bunker. It was surprisingly cozy. We slept well and got a lot of reading done. Ben is reading 1984 for the first time, and I am starting The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, after many recommendations by friends.
Ben ate sesame bun snack things.
And I ate lots of dried coconut. It was delightful.
Delightful seems to be the theme of our Vietnam trip so far... next stop, Hoi An!