A Travellerspoint blog

Ho Chi Minh City

Looking forward not back

90 °F
View Bill and Hope 2019 on HopeEakins's travel map.

We sailed up the Saigon River as the sun rose, docking in the center of the city. What an incredible place this is. Interesting tall buildings are under construction, signs of growth and creativity but thanks to an Aeronautics Board height restriction, the skyline is not crowded,. Gracious plazas and parks surround the beautiful Opera House and City Hall (behind Ho Chi Minh in the photo of Hope below), and the mammoth subway construction project is moving apace in the center of main arteries, but without much traffic interruption. Actually, nothing could disrupt the traffic in this place! Waves of motor scooters just keep moving, as there are few traffic lights. The bikes move in phalanxes because the roads are very wide. Everyone wears a helmet and almost everyone wears a mask. [In China and Japan, people wear disposable white masks; here they wear colored or patterned fabric masks.] We were counseled to wait until there was a break in the traffic (hah! – never found one of those) and then step out smartly and cross six or eight lanes, never wavering, never changing pace. The drivers would avoid us, they said, if the drivers could predict where we would be. On our first practice run, an elderly Vietnamese man grabbed us and pulled us out of harm’s way and then escorted us through the maze and around the corners, never letting go of our hands until we were on the sidewalk again.

Because the bridge of Bill’s eyeglasses had broken, we went off to a mall filled with high-end shops. There, OwnDay Opticians examined the sunglasses, extra glasses, and the broken glasses we brought, and said they could switch the lenses around and put the new prescription lenses into an old frame ... and they did it in a few minutes and didn’t charge us. We like these people a LOT. Then an excellent mani-pedi (this is, after all, the center of nail spa-dom) and a shopping spree at Ben Tanh Market where we found the coffee beans chosen by civets (see Bali blog) and acquired some to bring home to those of you who asked for it. Our coffee salesman is posed in front of the stuffed civet below.

Finally, we had a late lunch on the rooftop of the Rex Hotel, noted for being the place where the US Military Command held their daily conference. Now 44 years after the “American War” as they call it, the Vietnamese look hopefully forward, welcoming US visitors without anger or resentment. Gosh, we know places where they hold grudges for generations.

Note: the temp has risen 60 degrees (from the 40's to the 90's) in the last week of our travels! Our coats (and Hope's long underwear) are in the back of the closet. We are wearing shorts not coats.


Posted by HopeEakins 04:01 Archived in Vietnam

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You both are looking really good! Has it changed much since the last time you were there?

by HARRIET D Odlum

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