"Ho Chi Minh - Saigon Fly Through" Ho Chi Minh City by thedouglas
Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide: 3,130 reviews and 7,255 photos
Our family holiday over Xmas holidays 2004 only included a small glimpse of Vietnam. We had just 3 days in this country, all spent in Ho Chi Minh - and didn't do much research before we arrived. However, I won't make this mistake again - we loved Ho Chi Minh and what we saw of Vietnam and the wonderful people in general.
So, we saw the big must-do things - Reunification Palace, War Atrocities Museum, Museum of Ho Chi Minh, Notre Dame, took the kids to the zoo (not recommended), wandered along the Mekong, which was near our hotel, expored the shopping district and streetscape near our central hotel, The Grand, and mooched around the markets. We love the walk, and find out of the way things - and weren't disappointed. The Irish pub was a great find - and the street barber........
We managed to find a trip that encompassed Cu Chi Tunnels and Mekong Delta - spefically Unicorn Island - one of the many islands along the mighty Mekong. A very long, but thoroughly enjoyable day. This really whetted my appetite to come back - specially as the camera battery went flat, and left me stranded for most of the island. Lunch was along the Mekong, feasting on elephant ear fish - which are so expensive at home in Australia - and other fresh seafood and fruit.
Cu Chi Tunnels is a must see for anyone who has ever watched any of the many Western produced Vietnam war movies - and, I think, really demonstrates the ingenuity, toughness and tenacity of these slight, personable and very polite people - who have such a national pride. Our dimensions inside the already enlarged tunnels were highlighted! - as was the slight claustrophobia and physical aches and pains which prevent the body from being doubled and contained for more than the briefest time, before hyperventillation starts! Well set up "museum", with maintained tunnels, kitchens, meeting houses, demonstration of the very basic materials used for weaponry and uniforms, the torturous traps and remnants of the war - bomb scars on the land and a wrecked US tank.
Mekong Delta part of the day was wonderful - as was the guide. Our Cu Chi and Mekong guides were probably our best for the holiday - fond memories of both, and the quality of service they provided was excellent.
We visited Unicorn Island - and, as foodies, were not disappointed - alcohol tasting and purchasing, medicinal honey brew! - the most beautiful caramel candies, all of which were sampled and carried away - and finally, fresh fruit and live entertainment from local girls and musicians. We were then returned to our boat via some very strong and polite raft pilots! Very small population, and so productive.
A wonderful day - and a firm decision to come back for a leisurely look at this country.
The hour+ trip to Cu Chi was much enhanced by our guide's willingness to actually talk to us the whole way - and point things out - explanatations and patient answers - and a quiz or two! I had never seen rubber plantations, and the beautiful country outside the dingy city.
The beautiful traditional au dai's that the Vietnamese girls wear are hard to best in any fashion for style, charm and feminism - too see hundreds of school girls riding their bicycles home from school for lunch - or just wandering around the city and the way these traditional dresses are used for work uniforms - was a highlight for me. Realised I didn't have a single photograph of them - so have to go back!
We saw a number of weddings - the sort that I call fairy floss weddings - lots of froth and frills! The girls and husbands were both very well dressed, and weddings are apparently a very significant social statement and face making ritual in Vietnam.
Beauty and physical appearance seems important to Vietnamese - and the female street workers were generally covered from top to bottom - faces, arms,hands and legs all covered to minimise sun exposure and getting dark. The number of tanning products in Australia is only matched by the number of whitening products in most Asian cities I have been to! However, these girls were the only ones I saw so consciously covered up.
The French influence is very evident in the foods available - with enticing looking baguettes available in street stalls as well as in the most modern bakery. French cream cakes were abundant, which was unexpected. And, like other Asian countries, the most colourful and expansive ranges of fresh fruit and vegetables were arranged in street stalls and sidewalk shops all around Ho Chi Minh!
We found the people of Saigon charming and friendly, and the hotel (Grand) lived up to its name - the food was wonderful and varied - the shopping we saw was awesome, and the traffic was manageable! Never seen so many motorbikes in my life!
- Pros:Quote from a well known Aussie movie "....Just the vibe of it all really..."
- Cons:We enjoyed all of it
- In a nutshell:Seems a mix of East and West - while maintaining the traditional ways and values
Its supposed to fix you! I was ogling and musing about these potions everywhere, until I was told that this is... more travel advice
We stayed here for 3 nights, in a very central location - and were not bothered by noise at all. The hotel itself was... more travel advice
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