better get out of the way fast!
Maybe because I have already been on the road for 2 months or maybe because I am just trying to fit in many destinations in such a small time window, I always arrive at a new location with no expectations. The reason may well be that my mind is still full of memories from the last place, not ready yet to process what comes ahead. So we arrived in Ho Chi Minh City
, still Saigon for the locals, and I am not sure what to expect. Sure, the guidebook mentions a big, busy city full of motorbikes and people rushing around as if they are chasing time. But to be honest a lot of Asian cities fit this description!
The reality is that this is quite an accurate description of Saigon and at first sight it looks just like any other SE Asian metropolis.
However, the differences are quickly aparent. This is a really, really big city, one of the largests I have seen and even though its population of 6.5m can't even come close to Tokyo's , it has a really large core. After spending over an hour on the local bus you still get the feeling that you're in the city centre. And the motorbikes.... Let's just say that there are a LOT of them and that yes, the pace of the drivers is hectic. As if they are aware of some global catastrophe about to strike humanity, people are living life in a frentic pace. The local bus doesnt even come to a hault at the stops; it just slows down and people are expected to hop off or are dragged on by the very helpful bus conductor.
Another important aspect of Saigon is its colonial architecture. Large boulevards, trees and parks. For once, an Asian capital where you can relax at the park! The Post Office building is one of remarkable architecture, clean and extremely organised! And across the road from it, the Vietnamese version of Notre Damn. Beautiful, but without challenging the original.
It is also worth mentioning that Saigon is quite a clean city and that the nightlife is also great although, like in most cases, we only discovered that on our last night. At least this time we didn't miss the bus!
And for anyone planning a visit there, make sure you dine at a Pho24. Delicious.