Saigon, capital of traffic carnage
– When I arrived at Ho Chi Minh City I was really taken back by the traffic and overall chaos. I thought that Bangkok and Phnom Penh were unruly but Vietnam was really another level.
No rules, 1000’s of scooters ducking and weaving through the traffic and pedestrians trying not to get run over at every corner. I was confident I knew where my hostel was and only a 5 minute walk away I decided to try and walk it when an old man on a scooter asked me if I wanted a ride.
(These three guys were veterans of the Vietnam War – two in their original fatigues)
I said yes and he took me to the wrong place, except this time it was google maps fault for bringing up the sister hotel of the place I had booked in to stay at. When we finally got to the right place the driver accepted the 2000 Dong and I went to check in.
This place was called Saigon Zoom Hostel and it was really nice and the rooms and bathroom were a great standard even for a hotel. But as usual with places like this there was no backpacker atmosphere and I was the only one who had found the deal with no other socialites except a bunch of Korean tourists.
I checked out the next day and walked around the corner to backpacker central and booked in at the most friendly looking place I could find. Here I met a guy called Talbot who was also English and very cool so I partied with him in the evenings and went and swathe sights in the day times.
I went to reunification building and the war museum, which quite frankly makes Cambodia’s woes look fairly tame in comparison with what the Vietnamese had to endure at the hands of the American’s. Abnormalities and deformations are still occurring from the use of chemicals such as Agent Orange to this day and people are still being killed, maimed and crippled from unexploded ordinance across the farmlands plains and pastures across the country.
Having said this there is an awful lot of anti-American propaganda which clearly goes far beyond the actual events that ended the Vietnam conflict and an awful lot of attention is drawn to the Hegelian dialectical event of the palace being stormed and the gates being knocked open.
While I was here a motorbike taxi did scam me and people did try and glue the backs of my shoes but it’s not as dangerous as people really make out. The market here was not very good and people did not really want to barter that much.
I only stayed in Ho Chi Minh City for 5 days and I intend to visit again and enter by air at Hanoi and work my way down the country.
Wanting to go somewhere a little more modern for Christmas I decided to head to Singapore as flights were only £50 on Air Asia. I managed to get a motorbike taxi to take me all the way to the airport from the center of Ho Chi Minh from just over a dollar with both of my bags between his legs.
On a side note if you intend to get motorbike taxis in Vietnam – they require you to wear the helmets they provide which (if you have a head like mine) will not even cover half of your head and be really uncomfortable and dangerous to wear.
When I arrived at international departures there was a Burger King on the bottom floor and a Dominos on the top floor (but you cannot see the dominos until you go up there) so if you are feeling like a pizza head up to level two.
Checking in was relatively straightforward until I found out that the Air Asia hand luggage allowance is just 7KG’s and my bag weights around 12.5.
I had to pay an extra £15 to check my bigger bag and reload all of my stuff into my carry on bag and they did not except either of my visa cards, which meant I had to change up USD for a shit rate into SGD at the airport. I was a little annoyed.
The flight was super fast and as usual the service on the Air Asia flight was extremely good.