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Joe and Sarah's Adventures

Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon)

VIETNAM | Wednesday, 6 June 2012 | Views [708] | Comments [1]

Sorry we've been slow on the updates all- internet is a little trickier over here than we'd planned and Vietnam blocks Facebook! But we've ventured into Cambodia now where, surprisingly, we've had better luck with wifi!? So here we are! (More to come on Cambodia later).

Ho Chi Minh City! What a crazy place! It seems like there are more motorbikes here than people- and that's hard to imagine given that the city has a population of something like 7.5 million. It's loud, busy, fun, and huge. Basically feels like the New York City of Vietnam. Crossing the streets here is probably the scariest (and most dangerous) thing we will do this trip. It feels like a game of Frogger. You just have to walk out into the road at a steady pace and pray that you get to the other side before someone nails you. The trick we've learned is to just look straight ahead-- not at the oncoming traffic (which is usually oncoming from both directions at the same time since no one follows traffic rules here)and that way we can't see what's coming for us and therefore don't freak out and stop, which is a sure way to get hit. So far so good- Sarah only got hit once by a dude driving on the sidewalk when she stopped to take a picture. It wasn't very hard... She's fine.

The other traffic rule we learned is that the bigger the vehicle the less likely it is to accomodate for others. Buses are always on the top of the food chain. Then trucks/cars, then motos. Pedestrians are always on the bottom. When you know your place it's easier to not get squashed. So, while it may not have been the best place to start off for two people looking to take it easy for a few days and catch up on our R & Rs, it is definitely exciting! We've spent some extra days here (and extra dollars) to stay in a little bit higher end hotels (approx. $25 per night) so that we could try to de-stress, sleep in, and slowly acclimate ourselves to Asia.

That's not to say we haven't been busy though! We've been running around the city seeing the sights, eating the food, and smelling the smells. Like China, the contrast between the haves and the have-nots is unbelievably in-your-face. Many people sleep in the back of their little street-front shops, with only a curtain to separate the two. Others may live in little rooms above the shops. We've seen countless people just sleeping out on the streets in cots, hammocks, or on the ground. Then you'll pass by a huge Honda dealership with sparkling floors, bright disco lights twirling over the shiny cars & motos on display, and pop music blasting from their massive sound systems. Then a brand-new skyscraper with signs for an unbelievably posh bar on its rooftop over-looking the city. Then you walk another few steps and you're in front of a shack made of corrugated cardboard and/or tin with what looks like a family of 7 living in it. It's overwhelming at first- then by the 3rd day since you've seen this over and over again block after block you just get used to it. Very surreal. Apparently Vietnam is one of the fastest-growing economies EVER right now, so ideally that means things for the majority of the people will get better. I guess time will tell. One thing seems certain for now- most of them can afford motos and they drive them like there's no tomorrow.

More to come soon!

Tags: city, ho chi minh, motos, nightlife, saigon, traffic, vietnam

Comments

1

Sounds like a good time! Love all your pics! :)

  Elisabeth Jun 15, 2012 1:21 AM

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