posted on Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ho Chi Minh City


Here I am, finally arrived in Vietnam and more precisely Saigon the noisy financial centre of the country.
Quite a world apart from uneventful Moor Park and I must admit, a bit of a shock to the system to get used to so much buzz and life. Jetlag tiredness from the long flight mixed with the life threatening road crossings where scooters swarm and hoot their way around you. Ho Chi Minh City or rather Saigon as the local would want it, kept all its promises of a chaotic and vibrant metropolis. Scooters rule for sure! Three, Four people sandwich on the tiny saddles, sometimes holding furniture, brooms and any kind of unspecified objects like weapons to use at the next junction. As I arrived I took the bus from the airport to avoid falling prey of any early scams. Moreover I had the chance to meet a german old lady who knew where the bus was stopping and so was able to point out the right stop to Madame Cuc, the place i had reserved and that ended up being a few steps away!
Madame ( or was it her? ) was eagerly awaiting her customers by the door with a hospitable smile that gave her an 'our pick' status on Lonely Planet, no less!
Highlight of the day was to finally be able to feel what being millionaires means. My first currency exchange at the airport earned the staggering sum of 1,180,000 Dongs. Despite being tired i started sightseeing in earnest as i won't be spending much time in Saigon. The first impressions were not as positive as say Bangkok; there is no equivalent of landmarks to be seen but nevertheless to feel the energy of this city in a country where 65% of the population is under 30 years of age was something to behold. If anything could fight off my flying torpor, vietnamese coffee was it, a caffeine bomb that puts italian espresso to shame! Dinner was the first taste of an amazing cuisine that i had actually never had the pleasure to try before, so a very fulfilling end of the day.
Time to finally rest my limbs!