Ho Chi Minh! Or as the locals like to still call it… Saigon!
This was one of my most anticipated cities… mainly because about 6 years ago I had helped out on a musical called Miss Saigon and learnt a lot about the history of this place through that… also… “Good Morning Vietnam” was a very often watched film in my house growing up.
The first stop was of course lunch at the famous “Pho 2000” restaurant. Famous because Bill Clinton ate there once, a fact that the Vietnamese are very proud of. So once again I ate Pho because… well… how could I not? After lunch the girls and I went into town to check out the Notre Dame cathedral that apparently is a replica of one in Europe! It was absolutely beautiful on the inside and out! Across the road from that there was the famous Ho Chi Minh post office. I purchased some christmas cards from the man outside and sent them to my family, mainly so I could say I had posted something from there.
We then went to some of the biggest markets I’ve ever seen. Teh Ben Thanh markets are rather famous so of course we had to check them out. Cornelia and Lindsey both got a new pair of Nike’s for $30 whilst I opted to replace my old and dying red converse sneaker for a great bargain of $20. We all knew that they were ripoffs… but they were very nice ripoffs.
Something to know about Ho Chi Minh… and most Vietnamese cities is that the traffic is CRAZY. There are motorbikes and mopeds everywhere. Crossing the road is terrifying at first but once we learnt a few tricks from the locals we were alright. The idea is that you just have to “believe” that you’re going to cross the road and the most important thing is not to stop. It’s all about commanding the road. It was still scary but quite exhilarating!
The next day we visited the Cu Chi tunnels which I will talk about more in depth in a later post. HERE (You should totally read about it… I shot a rifle and everything!)
After coming back from there, a bunch of us went to the War Remnants Museum in the city. The museum was amazing and all about the Vietnam war and it’s effect it’s had on the country and people of Vietnam. The most interesting part about it was that it was all obviously told from the perspective of the Vietnamese, something I had not read or seen before. All the information I had collected about the Vietnam war including films, musicals and books were all written by Americans. Seeing it from the other side was both heartbreaking and very very interesting. There were many photos in this museum which pleased me greatly as I learn so much faster when there are visual aids involved. Some of these photos were so gruesome and hard hitting that we all got quite emotional from it. There were photos of bodies, massacres and a whole gallery devoted to the victims of Agent Orange. It’s a very moving and interesting museum but not for the faint of heart. Outside there are old tanks, weapons and airplanes on display. The entire day I just kept thinking how much my brother would enjoy this!
For lunch that day we met up with an Italian we had met previously on the tour and we found a random place to eat… it was our first “un guided” meal in Vietnam and to this day… we still don’t know what Cornelia ate… It was a very interesting and mis communicated hour!
Our final activity in Ho Chi Minh was visiting the tallest building in the city. It took us a while and a very long walk but we got there in the end. It was rather fancy and expensive but sometimes you’ve just got to treat yourself, so we all got an ice cream and watched the sun set.
The night train to Nha Trang awaits!