Saigon / HCMC
Ho Chi Minh City Travel Blog› entry 2 of 12 › view all entries
Leaving Singapore to arrive at Saigon (as it is still largely called by many people that we have met, rather than Ho Chi Minh City) wasn't the culture shock that we might have expected. Saigon airport was probably as orderly as any other that we have been to, it was also exceptionally smart! We were soon in the taxi and heading downtown (to the practically but not very imaginatively named "District 1"!). THe traffic was horrendously busy, however it kept moving. They say that there are 6 million people living in Saigon, I reckon that we have seen 4.5 million just on motorscooters alone!!
The streets are pretty chaotic, although in some ways, the people here seem to have a very non-urgent way of walking around. No-one seems to be in much of a hurry.
As we are very limited with our time in Vietnam, we only have a short visit to the Mekong Delta.
We took the trip to the Mekong Delta today. It wasn't **exactly** as it was described in the tour agent's leaflet, but nonetheless we got to experience something different around HCMC.
We headed-off on the bus early (7.30am) and were driven through the rush-hour traffic steadily before making it to the outskirts of HCMC. In truth, it never really felt that we had left the City for much of the way as there was always shops and houses and the same sort of pace of life was apparent as we drove-on. Eventually we reached the "port" of where we were going to be taken across to one of the islands that we were visiting (Dragon Island).
THe island itself was sort of a trip through a honey farm and a fruit growing area. There was also a very friendly python that Jeremy needed no encouragement to hold but Erica wasn't exactly so keen and kept her distance! We were also teated to some new tropical fruit - some of which we had never tasted before. It was exceptionally sweetl.
The area is also famous (withing Vietnam!) for production of coconut candy. We visited the "factory", all of which I'm sure would pass all health and safety inspection sin the UK(!).
The trip back to Saigon downtown by speedboat was about 3 hours and probably the most interesting part of the trip. It gave a real insight into the people that live on the river and make their living there, from the fishermen in their tiny rickety boats and tiny nets, to the houseboats (that people seemed to live on with their family) that tugged huge barges of sand up towards Saigon. They were massive and we wondered how they could possibly stay afloat given they were so low in the water! we also passed many houses on stilts on the sides of the river, many of them seemed to be pretty squalid (from where we could see), however many of them were pretty close to very luxurious looking apartments, a real illustration of the "haves and have-nots" that we suspect we will see a lot of in Vietnam.
On the 20th we head to Mui Ne, a beach resort on the coast about 4 hours away. We can't wait to escape the hussle and bussle of City life (given that we have not been anywhere "quite" as such for a couple of weeks now!) for a few days before we start heading north!