Thursday, January 5, 2012

Vietnam - # 1 - Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) Jan 2012

So, this year during winter vacation I decided to go and see some places. I originally intended to go to Vietnam, then Laos and then Thailand. But after a few days in Vietnam, I felt it would be better to go just through Vietnam, leave Laos for another time, and then go to Thailand for a week and meet up with my sister.

That's what I did.

Here are the pictures and stories from the first city I was in: Saigon.

This was the boat that we went on for the Mekong Delta day trip. It was pretty stable and comfortable.

There were all these rickety houses everywhere. Also, a lot of water plants growing. I wonder if they have flowers.

There were lots of banana trees on the banks of the river. Free food!

You can see the French influenced architecture.

Someone enjoys plants. Even in such a small and dirty place, people managed to grow things.

There were antennae everywhere. I think it's for TV, but I'm not sure.

This was our little 10 minute, quiet and peaceful boat ride. The guy who took the photo was in the front of the boat, English guy, and I'm pretty sure he was drunk.

It was so beautiful and so peaceful. The way they rowed those boats was very different.

They don't sit down. They stand up the whole time. That's got to be tiring.

This was in the city. On some random street. Traffic there is crazy, but surprisingly, there are very few accidents. There are hundreds of bicycles, motorcycles, cars and pedestrians crisscrossing each other and going pretty randomly, but everyone is very alert and is always aware of everyone around them. It's amazing.

This was a really beautiful palm tree in a park. I don't remember where I was walking, but I think I was looking for a good place to cross the street. They don't stop there at crosswalks. You just have to walk across, no matter how busy or chaotic the traffic is. Just walk normally. The vehicles will go around you. It's very scary the first couple of times, but after a few times, you don't fear for your life anymore.

Then I went on a food and scooter tour through the different districts in Saigon. These were the other people who joined. It was really tasty, and I especially loved riding through the mad traffic.

This was the first stop. A super super amazing soup. So much flavour!!

The XO helmets you see are the other members of the tour group. And as you can see, we are in the scooter lane on the highway. There were so many of them!!

Then we stopped at a BBQ place and had some goat. It was very chewy and had a very strange flavour. Not my favorite. Got is for milk and cheese, not meat!

Then we had some BBQ prawns. Super tasty. The ladies who were our drivers did everything for us. We just had to sit, eat, drink and enjoy. They cooked and peeled and got everything ready for us. I felt very pampered.

Then at yet another restaurant, we had some frog legs. Tiny but good. Tasted like chicken, but chicken is good :).

And then, the BEST of all the dishes, were these scallops. WOW!! The herbs and sauce that was in there complemented the meat incredibly well. WOW! I ate so many of those!!

This wasn't all that good. It was a bit too spicy.

And those are razor clams. Very tasty with the right sauce.

As I soon discovered, Vietnam is not just a little communist, but VERY communist. The hammer and sickle sign and the red colour and the star symbol were EVERYWHERE.

I also went to the War Museum. It was very sad, and some of the pictures and stories were pretty horrific. War is always a terrible thing. I heard this quote before and I thought it worth including here:

When I was a child
I spoke as a child
I understood as a child
I thought as a child
But when I became a man
I put away childish things.

And then, at my hostel, I met this group of very wonderful ladies, and that Eastern European strange guy that always seemed to be angry or mentally very preoccupied. I ended up going with the group of 4 women to the next town, Nha Trang on a very wonderful and comfortable night bus.

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