Ho Chi Min City (Saigon)
Trip Start Feb 16, 2010
21Trip End Apr 08, 2010
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We arrived at 5:50am, to a city that was very quite, but we knew this was the quitest we would ever see it, so we made the most of it and crossed the same road several times looking for accomodation. This may seem like a trivial thing to do in celebration of a quiet city, but we were expecting the crazyness of Hanoi, but multiplied several times over. The sleeper bus down from Nha Trang, wasnt the best night sleep either of us had ever had. I was bunked on top of teh toilet, so my bunk was very high, meaning that i had no leg room as i was unable to slot my feet underneath the headrest of the passenger in front. I was also unable to sit up, so for the 10 hours we were aboard i was curled up on my side, waiting for my tiredness to win the battle with discomfort so that i could get some shut eye.
After leaving our backpacks with the hostel, we headed out to get some early morning vietnamese coffee
In all honesty, my ignorance astounded me when it came to the vietnam war. I knew nothing. I could nt even hazard a guess at the dates. Earlier on in the trip I naively told Paul that it could have been before the world wars, and therefore i was not to excited about spending a good part of the day looking round a war museum. I was in shock. Granted it was the most biased museum I think I will ever step foot in, but I think that they have good reason to be. The museum used to be called 'The Museum of American War Crimes', and the Vietnamese dont hold back in depicting the horror that reined over their country. Outside the museum are masses of American Helicopters and war equipment. Some of the planes are still to this day loaded with rockets, and some tanks have loaded guns. Inside there are walls and walls of truely disturbing images. They show the damage that was not only done to homes and land, but also to the people through the chemical bombs and shootings
I had always noticed that some areas of vietnam had quiet a large population of amputees, but I had never put two and two together. Although we had been travelling through countries that have been victim to horrendous violence, it wasnt really until here, in Ho Chi Minh City, that it really became evident. In Laos, the vietnam war is referred to as the indochina war, during the war it was said that every 8 minutes for 9 years a plane load of bombs was dropped on Laos. Yet the only visable effects today seemed to be how poor the country is. Maybe if we had ventured out to Phonsavanh, then the lack of trees would have been a stark reminder of what actually happened here. When we drove from Hue to Hoi An, we were able to see the effect that the bombings had on peoples homes. The ruins still stand at the side of the roads, but even this doesnt seem to terrible, as harsh as it sounds, it just doesnt seem real. But I was brought back down to reality when a begger in the street brought me to tears. Now anybody that knows me well, knows that this isn't something that would normally have happened, and it took both myself and Paul by surprise. We were face to face with a war victim. His faced was badly burnt, his skin appeared to have melted, and his lips were non existent. He didnt say a word, he just looked up as us as westerners, as people that may be able to spare a dong or two to help him get by. That instant another man walked by, and without even thinking, through his litter a this man. And this was the straw that broke the camels back for me. To cry or not to cry? To cry. I dashed back and put some dong in the mans hands, he was so grateful, and waved down the street to Paul as if he was his long lost relative.
Before we had come across this man on the walk back from the war museum, after a rather indulgent meal in the Hard Rock Cafe, we had walked passed a handful of people who we presumed to be war victims
The hostel we are staying at is brilliant, the friendliest vietnamese people we have ever met, which is all honesty was quite refreshing. The family who run the hostel believed that Paul was upstairs asleep, and the next minute I found myself sat round a table with them as they served me a large portion of food and fruit. We were astonished at there generosity. It is nice to come across 'normal' homely people, when most of the time you have to have you guard up in fear of scams and pick-pockets (especially in Saigon).
The second day was spent wandering around the small roads, and nervously attempting to cross the main roads. There must have been thousands of scooters dashing around everywhere we looked. It seemed impossible to escape them. But every now and then in the madness something makes you stop dead in your tracks and laugh out loud. The items that people carry on their scooters will never seice to amaze us. From panes of glass, blocks of ice, ladders, and a huge stack of chairs
Ho Chi Minh was a perfect end to Vietnam, and now in posession of the Thailand Lonely Planet, w are ready to head back to the manic Bangkok. Although we do hear there has been alot of protests around the area. But Paul has assured me that if there is any sign of trouble we will fly south to avoid it!
Good Night Vietnam x