It was only a 7 hour bus from Da Lat to Ho Chi Minh city, a short ride compared to what we’ve gotten used to since we’ve been in Asia!
Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) was formerly the capital of South Vietnam when the country was divided into two during the war, and you can see why. The city is huge, feeling a hell of a lot bigger and more westernised than the now capital Hanoi. We entered the outskirts of the city to the view of skyscrapers on the horizon, and western chains everywhere you look. The traffic is the most insane I have seen yet in Vietnam.
Our hotel is clean and in the centre of the city, the staff are rude which is a bit of a shame and breakfast is non-existent but you win some, you lose some I guess!
Usually I’m all for embracing the culture of a place, eating local dishes and trying new things. However since the second wave of stomach bug, I’ve been craving a bit of familiarity. Ho Chi Minh definitely gives this to me and we both have gone a little crazy with food; it’s safe to say I’m leaving with a much fuller stomach than when I arrived!
I think the thing I love most about this city is how diverse it is. Western chains sit next to local street food, markets next to malls – it really is amazing to see something different everywhere you look. Crossing the road is interesting here, but Matt seems to have got it down to a fine art and I just follow obediently (if I try doing it on my own I nearly get run down).
I think my favourite thing about Ho Chi Minh is that it has no airs and graces. Yes it caters for the wealthy more than any other city we’ve seen in Vietnam, with sky bars and 5 star hotels everywhere in the centre, but it hasn’t massively changed itself for tourism. There are a handful of sights within the city that are worth seeing (a lot of them focussing on Vietnamese history), but a lot of tourist attractions are outside. The city itself just gets on with life and I think that allows you to really get a feel for a place. I think somewhere like London where so much is created for tourism, sometimes renders visitors clueless of what London life is truly like. Here you stroll through parks and see families playing badminton or football, and outdoor gyms are commonplace and are used frequently by all ages. It’s just an amazingly diverse place which you have no choice but to get involved with; just last night we watched a bunch of backpackers playing football with the local children.
Ultimately I have fallen in love with this city, even though it is the most unlikely on coupling. It has been the best way to end my time in Vietnam.