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Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon

Written on: Sunday January 14th, 2007

A journal entry from: Southeast Asia

We've been crammed into the back of trucks, slept on hard platforms in cramped train compartments, squished into buses bulging with produce and people,  teetered with packs on motorcycles,  but this trip from Dalat to Saigon was the strangest of all ... just the two of us and the driver in a large tourist bus.  But here we are in this very vibrant, modern, boisterous city.  Every table is occupied on the sidewalk, every vendor is trying to charm you to buy their product, every tourist and local seems to be out strolling the streets.  Recent estimates of the population are at 8,000,000 people  - and  4,000,000 scooters! Manoevering across a busy intersection dodging hundreds of scooters coming towards you is an exercise on self-control.  If you think you've made it across safely then you have to dodge the cyclos and xe lam drivers and one never knows what else may come weaving down the sidewalk among the vendors, chairs, carts, scooter parkades...Expecting the unexpected is always the rule here.  Never assume you can be in a guest house lobby or a store without being in peril of a scooter - one may just decide to enter riding the scooter to park. Don't worry about the exhaust, there's no escape. Looking native here would mean wearing a face mask, which we won't resort  to do.  And if one thinks they can find a quiet respite during a meal, it's not a possibility.  During the span of a two course meal your table will be approached by dozens of people selling the unexpected.  There's the usual gum, cigarettes, candy, fruit, wallets, lighters, balloons, flowers, but watch out for the teetering five foot high walking stack of pirated paperback books, or the good looking man with the wonderful hands to massage you as you eat, or how about a shoe shine for your flip flops or sandals?  Anything's possible here - and that's why you have to love it!

We've enjoyed walking the busy streets, exploring the market areas and taking in the local neighbourhood. We have grieved over the poverty, the living reminders of a country that has suffered beyond belief.  We have deepened our compassion for the people of Vietnam by visiting the War Remnant Museum as well as the Reunification Palace.

 

From Isa & Doug on Jan 16th, 2007

Really enjoying reading and seeing your blog! Lots to talk about when you get back. Are you heading for the Mekong Delta now? We stayed at Chau Doc and loved it. Great restaurants. The floating market close to there is fabulous. Have fun.

From Lois Lawrence on Jan 16th, 2007

Hi Greg and Marilyn: Came home to a cold house (-10 most of the time lately) on icy roads with a stuffy nose but now that Al's told us how to access your journals/albums, I can transport myself. Thank you for all of this sharing!

From Marlene on Jan 17th, 2007

I am so enjoying the photos. Greg as Easy Rider...drinking his beer...luxurious vehicle, it all looks incredible and of course I look the cultural ones as well. Your blog and photos certainly bring a smile to my face. Love you both xox

From Steve in Vancouver on Jan 17th, 2007

Hi there from Vancouver.....Sounds like you guys are having a blast and what an incredible web page. What an wonderful idea. Still lots of time for all kinds of future adventures. Everyone sends you love and looking forward to your next entry.

From Gerry & Catherina Lynch on Jan 21st, 2007

Well holy God, isn't it a long way from Donegal to Ho Chi Min City!!John & Pat told us about your site, well done to you both. The Meaneys say Howaya!