Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

We arrived in Ho Chi Minh City by bus late afternoon from Phnom Penh. The dream run continues with Guesthouses - we nailed a great one down close to the action for a bargain price, and then got out in the thick of it for some Vietnamese food for dinner.

Beef Noodle Soup, or Pho as it is called, is absolutely delicious. Like most Vietnamese food we have encountered since, Pho is incredibly fresh - served with a plate of fresh herbs, lime and chili to add at your disposal. And it's cheap - about 20,000 VND (NZ) $1.50 for a massive bowl, which fits with our budget! Another favourite is Ban Xeo, a rice flour and coconut milk crepe stuffed with pork, prawn, and bean sprouts, and served with the usual plate of fresh herbs, lime and chili.

HCMC is itself quite a nice city. It has a population of about 8 million, is quite spread out, and relatively clean to the rest of Asia. The streets are wide and leafy, and like Cambodia and Laos, there are some amazing French Colonial buildings about the place. There are scooters EVERYWHERE. Crossing the road is a bit daunting at first, but you get the hang of it. You just walk out slowly, let the drivers see you so they can swarm around you.

On our first full day we had a bit of a look around the city, which included a visit to the War Remnants Museum. Propaganda aside, it was quite interesting, largely due to the incredible photo exhibition showing the war and its aftermath. On the way home we stopped in at the rooftop bar at the Sheraton to watch the sunset, only to find the beers were NZ$12, no thank you. After walking back to the backpacker haunt of Pham Lam Nga, we found a Bia Hoi stand selling draught beer (essentially homebrew) on the side of the road for about $NZ0.50. These Bia Hoi stalls are quite cool, many tables crammed in which allows you to meet and chat to a whole bunch of randoms - we met a guy from Ibiza who had rowed the Mekong from Laos to HCMC with only a few clothes and some camp equipment, quite an achievement.

The next day we decided to see the Cu Chi Tunnels where the VC hid and fought the US in the war. We did this via a tour, which was quite revolting, but they seem to have a monopoly on the tunnels, you could taxi or rent a scooter and head out yourself, but there is little in the way of information unless you have a guide. Seeing the tunnels and going down them, gave us an appreciation of how terrible the war must have been to fight in - for both sides.

The next day we packed up and caught a bus to Mui Ne, a beach resort about 5 hours north of HCMC.

No comments:

Post a Comment