Saigon...the City that Never Sleeps
Trip Start Jul 05, 2010
186Trip End May 15, 2011
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Where I stayed
Stepping foot in Saigon is a little bit like exiting the subway in New York City to find yourself in the middle of the craziness that is Times Square, only there are more people, more bright lights, and more insane traffic. Talk about sensory overload!
We had our first Pho (the famous noodle soup) in Vietnam and it was good…not good, fantastic! Then, David spotted "Donut's Donuts," a store that seemed strangely familiar…hmmm, Dunkin' Donuts would sue them if this was the US. We have no objection to Vietnamese companies copying US chains, so we ate some delicious donuts and had some coffee.
It turns out that the whole city is decorated for a huge New Year’s Celebration—we cannot wait. There will be fireworks, music, dancing, performances, and lights, lights, and lights, everywhere.
It also turns out that the International Culinary Festival is taking place in Saigon right now and there are booths sampling ethnic cuisine everywhere. Also, there are dozens of booths set up for school children where they take part in all kinds of silly contests. We watched three blindfolded young children trying to catch a terrified goose in a closed pen.
David and I also visited Ben Thanh Market, which is quite colorful, crowded, and sells all kinds of weird and beautiful things. We will have to get a feel for the market and prices before we can even consider actually buying stuff there. I noticed that Vietnamese people are not shy at all! The ready-made-clothing sellers at the market kept grabbing my arms and trying to pull me into their stores. David made the analogy that it is kind of like a scene from the Harry Potter movie—when Harry falls into the ice cold pool with dead people and they grab at him from all directions and try to pull him down into the depths. It was kind of funny until one woman put her hand on my stomach and asked if I was having a baby! I’m not!
Anyways, I cannot believe we found such a cheap room in Saigon—$7 for a room with a TV (not that we ever use the TV), balcony, two fans, hangers (an obvious amenity many hotels miss), and free wifi!! You see there are hundreds of small alleyways leading off the main roads. Many families, who live on these side streets, have remodeled part of their homes to accommodate guests. It is a good deal for them and a good deal for us! Just as a side note, we made the observation that Southeast Asian hotels, rooms, and guesthouses are almost always spotlessly clean.