Saigon, trip to Vietnam, cont…

Saigon is not what I expected, at all. It was crowded of course, but not the zoo everyone makes it out to be. Sure there are plenty of motorbikes moving around in a congested mess, but it just didn’t have the awe of those videos on youtube showing traffic in Saigon. I thought maybe it was because I was there on a weekend, but Monday traffic wasn’t much different, congested but nothing worse than Houston traffic on 610 around the Galleria area. Saigon felt more wide open than Hanoi, and more developed. The people seemed more leisurely and more citified than those in Hanoi, also more properous somehow. The restaurants and hotels (more major chains) were of a higher class than those in Hanoi, a sure sign of the city’s increased development, though the room of the small hotel I stayed at in Hanoi was more stylish and refined than the hotel I stayed at in Saigon. It seemed the hotels got progressively less stylish and refined as I traveled from north to south. Might have been a budgetary thing with my travel agency.

The guide they gave me was a good enough fellow. I would have preferred a female guide, but oh well. First day, I visited the Cu Chi tunnels, one of the famous networks of underground tunnels the Viet Cong used to perplex the American troops during the war. I almost didn’t fit through the one section they let you crawl through with my chunky American body.

You think an American could fit in that entrance? Fat chance.

You think an American could fit in that entrance? Fat chance

If this guy had an AK, I'd have pee'd my pants

If this guy had an AK, I'd have peed my pants

We visited the usual sites in Saigon, nothing too interesting unless you’re a Vietnam war buff or history buff. Seeing the war rooms of the South Vietnamese government in the Reunificiation Palace was interesting though. I’m sure I’ve seen footage of these rooms in documentaries or movies about the war. Had spring rolls at a restaurant for dinner, was disappointed they weren’t nearly as tasty as the ones at Tau Bay.

edit: Visited the War Remnants Museum on the tour. Pretty depressing place. They had captured US military vehicles and all sorts of weapons and bombs on display, as well as exhibits with explanations and gory pictures of the atrocities of war, mostly as commited by the US during the Vietnam war. The entire place had the feel of communist propaganda, but I guess that was its purpose, since they won the war.

Famous photo of a mother and her kids trying to flee the war

Famous photo of a mother and her kids trying to flee the war. If my dad hadn't gotten us out of the country, this could have been me, my mom and 2 brothers. Remind me to thank my dad for what he did for us.

Famous photo of the aftermath of US bombing campaigns in Vietnam during the war

Famous photo of the aftermath of US bombing campaigns in Vietnam during the war

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~ by returningjapanese on October 15, 2008.

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