Saigon, the heat just hits you as you step off the planeAnd then the ensuing madness on the streets!People everywhere, on thousands of mopeds, some bikes and cars, everyone vying for their space on the road, no matter what side its on!
And if you want to turn into a street, you just start making a space by driving into all the traffic coming towards you, it is even madder than Lima! Never seen so many mopeds in one place and all on the road, beeping with people hanging off the back unaware they are taking their lives into danger by being there!
After arriving at my friend Phuongs flat in district 1 we headed out onto the streets. The traditional dress for young women in Vietnam is called the Ao dai, literally meaning "long dress". The Ao dai consists of a long flowing tunic of fabric warn over a pair of loose-fitting white pants. I had to have one! It just looks gorgeous, so Phuong and I headed to a material shop, picked some then to one of many dressmakers who could make it in 2 days. Thousands of my body measurements were taken, it will be interesting to see if I will look as elegant as all the Vietnamese girls do!!!
Then it was time for dinner, we had been taking taxis all the time, and it is so cheap, 50p a time! We headed to a local restaurant where Phuong picked a variety of dishes from all over the country for me to try. Luvly food, nice n tasty, lots of subtle flavours and my fave coriander!
* Read -The Girl in the Picture by Denise Chong, a story of the little girl shown in the picure famous during the war years burned and running from napalm. Also, The sorrow of War by Bao Ninh, a story of a North Vietnamese scout during the war. 2 different perspectives, 2 sad stories.
* War dominated 30 years of Vietnam's history last century. The struggle that began with communists fighting French colonial power in the 1940s did not end until they seized Saigon and control of the whole country in 1975.
The period that Americans refer to as the "Vietnam War" ・and the Vietnamese call the "American War" ・was the US military intervention from 1965 to 1973.
Communist forces based in the north and led by the nationalist leader Ho Chi Minh defeated the French in 1954.
Accords were negotiated that split the country into communist north and pro-American south, divided by a demilitarised zone (DMZ).
Country-wide elections to decide a permanent solution were promised but never happened, and within five years the communists had launched a guerrilla war on the south.
Hundreds of thousands of US soldiers were sent to help fight the communists in a costly and ultimately unsuccessful war which brought domestic civil unrest and international embarrassment.
The US was driven by Cold War concerns about the spread of communism, particularly "domino theory" ・the idea that if one Asian nation fell to the leftist ideology, others would quickly follow.
The Vietnam War was protracted and bloody. The Hanoi government estimates that in 21 years of fighting, four million civilians were killed across North and South Vietnam, and 1.1 million communist fighters died.
US figures covering the American phase record 200-250,000 South Vietnamese soldiers killed and 58,200 US soldiers dead or missing in action.