Leaving it all behind to explore the world together
After nearly 4 weeks we are saying good bye to Vietnam. Its been a wild ride, and we have really loved being here. Its also the first country we have visited on this trip where we both agree that 4 weeks is not enough to see it all. Vietnam feels enormous, and has so much to offer – great food, beautiful landscapes, and really friendly people (as long as you’re not discussing money or haggling for something). You could get lost here very easily.
We are finishing our trip in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), the largest city in the country. It was heavily damaged during the Vietnam War, and this is evidenced today by many modern buildings and wide roads which were rebuilt after the North took over in 1975. The feel of the city contrasts heavily with that of Hanoi. Hanoi retained much of its “old world” charm and feel, whereas Saigon feels new. We also suspect that Saigon has the highest number of coffee shops per capita of any city in the world.
Someone should run an architecture tour of Saigon. There is a great mixture of styles, especially French Colonial style buildings which somehow survived the war.
We spent 4 days in Saigon, which was more than we original anticipated. Unfortunately, we got hurried out of Mui Ne a little earlier than we would have liked, on Vietnam’s “Liberation Day” long weekend. It was impossible to find a hotel room to extend our stay on the beach, as they were all booked up for the holiday. So, we headed to Saigon early. It actually worked out nicely, as we could explore the city at a slower pace. Besides, the intense heat and humidity makes it hard to explore quickly – afternoons are mostly a write off, as everyone heads into air conditioning in an attempt to maintain sanity.
We also wanted to include with this post a few pictures from various Vietnam War historical sites we visited. These pictures didn’t really fit into any other posts, but we think they’re worth sharing. Everywhere in Vietnam are reminders of the war, and we wondered if our “North American” accents might draw some ire (we are often mistaken for Americans) as we visited these sites. But despite the constant reminders of a war which tore the country apart not that long ago, and still has lasting effects today, there does not seem to be any animosity towards the American people or peoples from other countries (Australia, Korea, etc) who participated in the war. The only time it really seems to come up is in museums, which are perhaps unsurprisingly biased against the French colonization and the subsequent American actions during the 60’s and 70’s. A lot of the displays in various museums would constitute straight-up propaganda, so you need to take everything with a grain of salt.
And now, on to Penang, Malaysia! Talk again soon!
Doug and Emily / May 3, 2017 / Saigon, Vietnam @ Madam Cuc 184 Hotel at 7:57 pm