Thursday, November 26, 2009

Miss Saigon

The saying is true - go in with low expectations and you will always be delightfully surprised.

Having spent my first half a day in Ho Chi Minh City (otherwise known as Saigon), I am ready to admit that this place has not grated on me yet.

While Bangkok is dirty, hot, crazy and dishonest, there is definitely something almost mythical about Saigon. Its hot, dirty and crazy but I am yet to be ripped off as I would expect to have been by now. Sure, the taxi driver asked for a tip but heck, if I had to negotiate my way around HCMC, I'd be asking for some more money too. Heat, intensity and filth aside, the " Saigon" that captures the imagination is the Saigon of war time.

I need not go into too much detail as yet about Vietnam's war history, but its safe to say for the purposes of this blog entry, that Vietnam was torn into shreds from one end to the other as a result of the French pulling out, the Viet Cong coming in, the Americans getting involved and the Americans trying to get themselves "uninvolved" when their mission fell to pieces.

You imagine the streets in war time, you can almost feel the street walls whispering tales of years gone by...this is a city in a country that simply cannot let go of its war identity.

(photo top: my hotel, the Continental Hotel, most famous as being where the war-time movie The Quiet American was filmed; photo below: the streets of Ho Chin Minh City, or otherwise known as Saigon)


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