Ciarán & Elaine's Travelog

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Goooood Morning Vietnaaaaam!

We left Phnom Penh and got the bus to Saigon, Vietnam. First impressions? This place is mental. We thought we'd seen a lot of bad and crazy driving already in S.E. Asia, but nothing compares to the sight of about 20,000 mopeds and motorbikes speeding through the city, ignoring all road markings and speed limits. Traffic lanes? Who needs them. Brakes? They're for losers.
Thats how life is over here. A kind of disorganised chaos that just somehow manages to work. The rainy season also appears to be starting in earnest these days with huge downpours happening almost every day like clockwork at 1pm and 8pm, kind of weird that you can set your watch by the rain. Just before the downpour the humidity gets unbearable and the wind really picks up so that we're nearly glad to see the rain lashing down.

Although the place is a bit crazy it was still really nice getting back to a more developed city with lots of cafes, bars and other signs of modern life after being in Phnom Penh. By no means is Vietnam the richest country around but it's a world apart from Cambodia.

We stayed in the Pham Ngu Lao area which is the main backpacker strip and quite a cool place with tonnes going on day and night. We were talking to a local guy in a bar and asked him whether we should call the place Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City as everyone we've met seems to call it something different. He told us that it used to be called Saigon and then was renamed Ho Chi Minh city (in honour of General Ho) after they beat the enemies in the 'American War'! He's very proud of their victory - don't know what the yanks would make of that!

We went to the War Museum in Ho Chi Minh City. It had photos from the 1950's to the 1970's showing the lead up to and during the "American" War. It was quite shocking to see so many photo's depicting horrendous scenes or tortures and the bodies of not only soldiers but the women and children that had been killed by US troops. It was fairly gruesome.....

Beside those were photos of people that were affected by Agent Orange and the disabilities that it has caused in subsequent generations. And beside those were a lot of propaganda posters designed to show how the "whole world" sided with Vietnam over the war. We overheard an American guy talking while we were there, telling his friend about the first time he shot someone in the head in the war. Pretty distasteful considering where we were.


Post a Comment

<< Home