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The adventures of Putaro Follow me and my beautiful travel companion around Asia where we attempt to find nothing, but enjoy ourselves all the while

Ohayo gozaimasu Vietnam

VIETNAM | Tuesday, 17 July 2007 | Views [1198] | Comments [3]

We are now in Saigon! Home to 6,000,000 motorbikes and about the same amount of people.   We came here via bus from Phnom Penh, nothing particularly scenic or memorable about the trip, but easy  nonetheless. After leaving Sihanoukville we decided to spend a couple of days in Phnom Pehn and it was worth it.  We spent most of our time on the river;eating and strolling about, but we did venture out a bit.  I found the Royal Palace impressive, The Russian market intense, and the Killing Fields incredible.  The latter left me speechless! The experience is culminated with the skulls and bones of the victims- protected by glass, they come in all sizes, stacked about 30 feet up.

Thus far, the only experience similar to the Killing Fields was the War Remnants Museum here in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh.  Graphic photos, old tanks and planes, mock tiger jail cells, the results of agent orange and toxic chemicals......it is all there.  Sad and interesting; taking a look back at the events that transpired from the other side, it is tragically familiar to what's going on today. Unfortunately though, I don't think my children will have the opportunity  to travel through Iraq in 30 years....there is all ways hope though!

Yesterday, I ventured to the Cu Chi Tunnels northwest of HCMC. I was on a tour and it is not something I would do again.  The tunnels themselves were fascinating- an elaborate, underground maze of homes, bomb shelters, and escape routes; locals/V.C. spent years underground, undetected, almost directly under a U.S. military base. The documentary video at the beginning of the tour was also quite intersting- total, absurdly funny communist propaganda- showing people living in the Cu Chi tunnels having a ball; planting rice and shooting the enemy; heroes of the nation!

Nonetheless, the really disappointing part of tour was my fellow tourists. People were climbing on tanks posing for photos; laughing, without any regard or respect for what happened there. Then, when the tour concluded, visitor's had the opportunity to fire  AK -47's and wide array of other assault weaponry- the people in my group were lining up!!!  Perhaps I'm being bit too serious, but I thought it was disgusting and don't recommend going! I have heard about tunnels further north that are harder to get to, and thus attract fewer visitors- check those out instead!

Back to the positive though- the tour guide was pretty funny and informative. He had some interesting things to say about HCMC and living in Vietnam today. For example.............................

-There are 6 million motorbikes in HCMC

-14 people die in HCMC everday in motorbike accidents,  300 die everyday in Vietnam

- you don't have to wear a helmet

- there are virtually no crosswalk signals, and crossing the street is like playing chicken or frogger (my own input)

- a chinese motorbike costs $400 U.S. , a  korean motorbike $1,000, and a japanese motorbike $2,000 (there are a lot of chinese motorbikes)

Vietnam  is definitely in the midst of an economic boom, and like China has this uber modern/stone age mix.  A lot of restored French Colonial architecture still exists and is really worth looking at- the Hotel de Ville, the Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral, etc.....

So far so good.....Vietnam has made the best first impression out of any place  we've been thus far.  Tomorrow we are heading to Dalat in the central hightlands.  We have the camera situation under control and I'm hoping to post some pictures soon.

We have about 4 weeks left and our travel route is planned to kind of go like this:

Vietnam: HCMC to Dalat to Hoi An to Hanoi to Halong Bay back to Hanoi

fly to Luang Prabang, Laos to Van Vieng to Vientianne

then bus to Chang Mai, Thailand to Chang Rai, Northern Thailand, etc and

back to Bangkok- that's it!!!!


Tags: Culture



very interesting and good read, be safe.


  hobe Jul 19, 2007 12:13 PM


Enjoy Hoi An! The architecture is amazing.

  Ajay Jul 19, 2007 12:22 PM


Hope you get into Laos as well. Maybe even Myanmar.
Not that i have been there mind you!

  alastair Jul 28, 2007 10:58 AM

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