We were fortunate enough to spend the first few weeks of this month in the beautiful country of Vietnam. We started in Ho Chi Minh City, at the far southern tip, and worked our way north to Hanoi, with a few stops in between. Ho Chi Minh City was formerly known as Saigon, before reunification, and most of the locals still refer to it as such.
I was not prepared for the ride to the hotel. There were absolutely no driving rules that I could ascertain. Motorbikes and cars were everywhere, and the painted lane lines seemed to be “suggestions”, at best.
We spent the evening walking around, dodging motorbikes, and learning to cross the street! You do not look both ways in this country, (we would still be standing there!), you slowly just start walking and let the cars dodge you. Yes, we walked right through traffic like this. It was harrowing at first, but you actually do get used to it!
As we walked, lots of people were trying to sell us various things, I guess you could say, we stand out. What?! We don’t look local? One man was quite friendly, and casually gave Matt his load of coconuts, so he could see how heavy it was. We soon learned, this was a gesture used to reel us in for a purchase.
He wouldn’t answer until we refused more coconut. Finally, he said $4 each. Matt paid it but we knew we’d just been had. You can buy a coconut at the market for about a quarter. I guess capitalism is alive and well, even in a communist country!
The museum portion was all about the Vietnam perspective of the US conflict, known to them, as the American War. We ran into a group of Vietnam veterans at the museum and it was interesting to hear their take on the propaganda and how everything was being presented.
Next up, the Independence Palace. This was the residence of the President of South Vietnam during the war, and was also where the war ended. A North Vietnamese tank crashed through the front gates, signaling the fall of Saigon. Today, it is just used as a historical site.
Coincidentally, the original structure was designed and built by the French, but it was partially destroyed during a conflict, and rebuilt in 1962. Too bad it wasn’t just restored, I’m just not a fan of sixties architecture!
This was some type of war strategy room. My girls were in awe that these were actually phones, and that you had to sit right there to talk on them. It is a very interesting conversation, trying to explain to a child, how to dial a rotary phone. Try it sometime!
It was time for a refresher. We found a lovely outdoor patio and ordered some iced Vietnamese coffee, a very popular drink. It consists of a few shots of sweetened condensed milk, and coffee. Even to me, someone who normally can take or leave coffee, this drink was a little piece of heaven in a glass! I’m still dreaming of this. (Coincidentally, Vietnam is the second largest producer of coffee in the world.)
Tomorrow, on to DaNang, a little further up the coast.