Sunday, June 18, 2006

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Wow, what a place.

In the first ten minutes of arrival I experienced more culture than I had in 3 days in Sinagpore... the airport arrival outside of the baggage claim was filled with more people than I have seen at any third-world airport, but unlike the chaos that usually ensues, it was eerily controlled - no screaming babies or people asking for taxis, rather, just 3,000 people looking at us hoping we were their loved on/associate/friend/potential ride/whatever...

As we drove down the streets, what really struck me was how at there were almost no cars, but about 300 mopeds at each stoplight. Intersections filled with mopeds, one guy was carrying a shell of a computer between his legs while driving it. Along the streets, it looked like lots of little colourful buildings similar to Mexico City without the grafitti - but in front hanging from the telephone poles were not only a few cables but hundreds of them, as if the growth to commerce has been so fast they haven't had time to put the cables underground.

The drive to the hotel was past Reunification Square - a park with a museum holding two tanks from the Vietnam war, with big red flags and building sized posters of crowds of happy people.


The hotel itself is stunningly gorgeous, a throw back in time. When you enter you feel like you just walked into 1948 Saigon. Gorgeous potted palms, huge shuttered french paned windows and a grand piano adorn the lobby.... the male employees in white banded shirts and black slacks, women all in long black robes, both uniforms perfectly pressed and hair clean and kept back. Rooms are just stunning, old simplicity...

Had dinner in an open air local restaurant, with a tree in it. The outdoor edges were covered with a sail underwhich were the kitchens... freshest vegetables I have ever had, we had to make our own spring roles by hand... neat. Cheap as hell.

But now I am just exhausted so going to sleep...

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