Somewhere in Asia travel blog

Grandmother and grandson

Vietnamese school kids

Outside our guesthouse

Same alley

Scooter alley

Nighttime shot taken from the local watering hole

Vietnamese letting loose with colour

Street tea

Streetside veggies

1967 Honda - many of these around here

A close-up

A HCMC block

Next block over

A strange cyclo

Saigon scooter traffic

Sewing shop

Cambodian/Vietnamese version of hacky-sack

He's tired, actually he's asleep

HCMC roundabout - fun on a bicycle

A river of scooters

Writing on the wall - "run/ride slowly"

Another alley

One of countless propaganda posters

A hat

Meditating in a park

Pedal-bike/motorbike - Sachs original

Another one

 

Uncle Ho

 

 

 

 

Room in the basement of the Reunification Palace

Green onion night cleaning crew

Two women wearing ao dai (a Vietnamese national dress)

Yawning on the job

I have just about anything you can think of

 

Catching a ride

Food to go

Soaking veggies

On the way home after a long journey.

Same story different dog.

Pretty comfy

The Vegetarian heroes that saved the dogs from being eaten by humans

No backyards just hidden alleys

Big buildings, small buildings, nice colours


Riding into HCMC was a bit like riding thru a wasp nest. It's possible to get thru without getting stung if you're careful. The city starts miles out on the highway. We followed the highway alongside a continuous line of buildings to our left and right. At our first direction change the road became two narrow lanes, and the traffic intensity increased. HCMC's roads are inundated with scooters. At first it seems like pure chaos, but after riding thru it for a while, you begin to understand its flow. If the scooter in front of you leaves an empty space then it probably means you should fill its spot without delay, and so on. The bigger the vehicle the more respect you give them, but only if they move in on your space. Crossing intersections or entering roundabouts usually involves building a team of scooters or hiding behind a car/truck and using the collective size of the group to your advantage. Accidents are rare, but they do happen.

The guesthouse we chose is situated down an alley in an area set up for tourists. Yet the locals live and work in these buildings as though there were no tourists around. People sell everything from breakfasts to ca phe phin to shampoo. You can watch children playing, hair salons inflicting the latest hair and nail styles onto mainly locals, and people sleeping day and night on the floors of their homes, in front of TVs, on lawn chairs in the middle of the alleys and so on. Our alley has at least four ways out. There is no map of the alley system. Getting lost in these alleys is about as fun as it gets. Food and drinks can be found anywhere and most homes have a business on the street level. As usual we found a place that has coffee and base our stay around that. Cities are usually places for us to rest and reload before moving on. Nine months into the trip we are still taking our time leaving them. Usually we spend our time walking the streets, searching for food and coffee more often than going to museums or tourist sites. In HCMC we did go to the Reunification Palace formally known as the Independent Palace. On the morning of April 30, 1975 Communist tanks crashed thru the gates and forever changed South Vietnam. The Palace was home to the President and its basement was used as a war room until that day. Check out the photo of the very functional message centre. A hole in the wall! 30 years later I can send instant emails around the world. I think that's better? These days the Palace is open to the public, but can be shut down for official receptions or meetings that are taking place. Vietnam seems to be blending Socialism with Capitalism and making it work. Yet it is hard to know if the people are happy here. It does seem very different from the other countries we have seen. We heard so many stories about Vietnam before we arrived and we are trying to keep an open mind. HCMC is of course just one city within a country, and I am sure it will feel different in other towns and cities. It is by far less aggressive and intense than some of the descriptions we've heard over the last few months from other travelers.



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