My Own Ho Chi Minh Trail

Ho Chi Minh City Travel Blog

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Tran Nguyen Statue

After an emotional goodbye at the airport, with Kyle flying off to conquer the world of transport planning, I wasn't really in the mood for dealing with Thai immigration as to why I had overstayed my visa. It wasn't like I hadn't intended to, to be honest, seen as it worked out a lot cheaper to pay a fine for a couple of days than renew for a whole month's worth. Although I got out of the country fine, I still felt like I had been breaking the law and was getting a telling off.

On the way to my hostel from Ho Chi Minh airport, I couldn't believe that there are actually more chaotic roads than Bangkok's in this world. Any lingering suggestion that I might be able to get on a motorbike taxi was killed immediately.

Conical hats at the street market
I was to quickly learn that crossing the road is an arduous task, often taking several minutes, and always scaring the living daylights out of you.

Upon arriving at my hostel, I was told that the person staying in my room the previous night had not departed yet because she was suffering with fever. Despite the fact that she was obviously faking it - I saw her the following day; she looked fine - I didn't mind being put up in a hostel across the road at no extra expense. It was actually not a problem; the room was better than the original. The following day I was told that she was still ill, so I got given a room with a double and a single bed, so I'm living the high life off the faker. I really should shake her hand (I won't, in case it's contageous and she isn't lying).

Ho Chi Minh and Hotel de Ville

Waking up to a very hot and sticky day, I started out on my very own tour of Ho Chi Minh. I had trouble explaining this to the cyclo and moto drivers who just never leave you alone - to the point that courtesies quickly edge towards mild obscenities. I hope I get used to it quickly, even though at times you feel like forcefully telling them to go away in a more post-watershed kind of way.

First up, I took a walk through busy Ben Thanh market, even though I was all shopped out from Bangkok. I passed the Tran Nguyen Hai statue while nearly getting killed crossing the road, and refreshed myself with liquids at the outdoor market, where women in conical hats swarmed the place. Passing the Municipal Theatre, I headed towards the Hotel de Ville, which has a statue of Uncle Ho himself before it.

Replica Tank
Sweating like a dog in an oven, I hit Reunification Palace, formerly Independence Palace before tanks charged it in 1975 in the Fall Of Saigon. Inside, there are some pristine gardens, a couple of replica tanks of those that stormed the building and in the basement there's a telecommunications centre and the president's 'warroom.'

Nearby is the War Remnants Museum. It used to be called the Museum of Chinese and American War Crimes, which gives you a better idea of what it contains, despite the name change. Another one to add to the list of museums that I've visited that are as interesting as they are disturbing, contents include photos of the infamous My Lai massacre and a film about Vietnamese citizens and their offspring that have been left deformed after the deployment of Agent Orange by the US during the Vietnamese war.

Reception Room in Reunification Palace
Despite being, obviously, heavily subjective, the photos of children hit by napalm and bombs were predictably humbling.

With enough time to squeeze in a couple more sites, I circled the Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral while viewing the adjacent French-style post office building, the largest post office in Vietnam. I didn't have anything to post, so finally gave in to one of the cyclo drivers and took a scenic ride home before the rains started lashing down as I stepped foot in my hostel.

After all the sight-seeing, I had worked up an appetite, so went to have my first taste of the Vietnamese national dish, Pho. Expecting it to be a bit bland compared to all the nice Thai cuisine I had gotten used to, I was surprised to find the beef noodle soup was actually quite nice, even if I did add far too many chilis into the mix, thus forcing a couple of litres of water down my throat to stop me from spitting fire.

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Tran Nguyen Statue
Tran Nguyen Statue
Conical hats at the street market
Conical hats at the street market
Ho Chi Minh and Hotel de Ville
Ho Chi Minh and Hotel de Ville
Replica Tank
Replica Tank
Reception Room in Reunification Pa…
Reception Room in Reunification P…
Subtitling department, ITV Yorkshi…
Subtitling department, ITV Yorksh…
Ho Chi Minh Museum
Ho Chi Minh Museum
Municipal Theatre
Municipal Theatre
Tanks at War Remnants Museum
Tanks at War Remnants Museum
Guillotine used by French against …
Guillotine used by French against…
Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral
Reunification Palace from cyclo
Reunification Palace from cyclo