In Vietnam

April 9th, 2007

I made it to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. So far we’re just in Saigon, ahem, i mean Ho Chi Minh City (locals still call it Saigon), which is the biggest city in Vietnam (greater metro area about 9 million peeps). Parts of the city are as clean and modern as any american city, but not all parts – its still apparent you’re in SE Asia. It is much nicer than Cambodia, but suprisingly not always more expensive. You can get a nice big bowl of delicious Pho (beef noodle soup) for like 40 cents. And already we found a place that has draft beers for 25 cents .. way cheaper than Cambodia. Moped taxis are also slightly cheaper, but i’m sure i was paying a tourist surcharge for things in Cambodia. Rooms are more ($10 for a nice AC room), and many restaurants charge american prices. I’m not really on a budget, but Shayna is, so finding a good deal is always welcome.

Vietnam's Reunification Palace Our first night we hooked up with Shayna’s friend Kelly, from the states – she’s been living here over a year. She took us around to some eating, drinking and Karaoke spots. We met lots of locals and expats – their are alot of westerners here and they talk about how fast the city is growing and changing. The next day we slept in but the made it to the Royal palace (aka Reunification Palace). It was completed in 1966 but hasn’t been used or modified since 1975, when the war ended and the VC (north vietnam army) took over. It was interesting to be transported back in time to the 70s – the architecture of the place as well as seeing old radio equipment and helicopters and tanks. It was also interesting to learn how the Freedom Army Liberated Saigon from 1975. No civil war here, just the good Vietnamese versus the bad Americans and their Vietnamese sympathizers. After that i had some real tasty beef BBQ – i cooked the marinated beef right at the table. Besides the beef, the place had frog, crocodile, rats, crickets, snakes, and worms. Umm.. yeah.

Tomorrow we’re doing a tour of Mekong River, then the next day we’re leaving Saigon for the Vietnamese beach town of Mui Ne. Then we slowly work our way North (Hoi An, My Son) to Hanoi, Sapa, and Halong Bay, then to Laos after Vietnam.