Saturday, September 4, 2010

Ho Chi Minh City

City by night

We spent one day in Ho Chi Minh City before we met up with our friends and headed for Phu Quoc island. After a quick bite to eat we checked out Ho Chi Minh’s Ben Thanh market, sampled some more food and got our bearings for the inner city. We hired a motorbike, great idea Celine, for the afternoon which enabled us to explore. You can see so much more in a short period of time when you have your own wheels so we always jump at the chance to hire a bike and just cruise around the city. We explored the area around the main church and the Revolutionary Museum stopping off for a coffee and checking out a pagoda. At the front of the pagoda there was an old man selling small bags of gold fish. If you buy them you can set them free within the pagoda. Celine bought a bag and was happy to be letting these little fish free. It turns out the only place we could leave them was a small pond full of the same fish; a pond that the old man comes and collects fish from before putting them in bags and selling to foreigners coming into the pagoda again. Funny! After that we drove through a local market and took many pictures.

In go the fish.....soon to be captured again

We stayed within district one, which is the centre of town, and were quite surprised with the organization and how modern it was. Streets had separate sections for cars and for motorbikes with well developed walk ways having little to no bikes parked on it. There were big shopping centres and famous brands. This part of town reminded us of parts of Bangkok or Kuala Lumpor – something we have not experienced in Vietnam. We are not big shoppers but after a year in Hanoi we noticed an abundance of western influences in HCMC that are only now starting to arrive up north.

Ben Thanh market

We had a massage and took a stroll through the city as the sun set. The large boulevards were lit up with lights hanging from trees and buildings, I assume for the Independence Day celebrations the following day. After dinner we dropped off the bike and took a taxi out to the western bus station to meet our friends before taking a very late bus, 3am, to Phu Quoc Island.

We only had a day but we were very impressed with HCMC. From what we saw it was much more developed that Hanoi, something that we knew and always led us to expect a commercial and charmless city, but we got a welcoming feel from the cute and colorful streets (Celine’s words, not mine). We had heard mixed reports about HCMC from various friends and now look forward to exploring in more detail when we get back in a few days.

1 comment:

  1. So far I had been travelling alone with my handbook and my Western Railway timetable: I was happiest finding my own way and did not require a liaison man. It had been my intention to stay on the train, without bothering about arriving anywhere: sight-seeing was a way of passing the time, but, as I had concluded in Istanbul, it was an activity very largely based on imaginative invention, like rehearsing your own play in stage sets from which all the actors had fled.