Planet View: N10°46.077′ E106°41.705′
Street View: N10°46.077′ E106°41.705′
The humidity of the tropics was palpable as soon as our plane’s doors opened to Vietnam last night, the air was sometimes so thick today that you could see the mist hanging in the streets just before the skies opened up to relieve themselves. We arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as most of the locals still call the metropolis, last night after spending a day in Darwin with my auntie and uncle. The traffic here had us holding our seats on the ride to our hotel in district one of the city, thousands of mopeds, scooters and bicycles managing to avoid each other and the occasional car as the traffic weaved its web through the city. We took a late night walk through the streets around our hotel after arriving around 9:30PM, sitting down for a dinner of shrimp soup and a bowl of traditional Vietnamese pho as well as a liter of beer between us all for around $USD4.50. The cost of living here is amazingly low.
We spent today exploring central Ho Chi Minh by foot, visiting a few of the local markets, which reminded us both a lot of the bazaars in Istanbul, as well as the Reunification Palace, the home of the President during times when North and South Vietnam were separate countries. The never-ending stream of scooters usually made it nigh on impossible to find a break in the traffic to cross the road, we quickly learned from watching the locals that if we maintained a steady pace crossing the streets the traffic would somehow find its way around us! Definitely a leap of faith the first few times we tried it. The Ho Chi Minh markets were a lot of fun, an amazing array of global brand names priced at a small fraction of their cost in the west. I couldn’t resist a Lacoste shirt and Lisa a handbag! We spent the most time in Ben Tanh Market where we were especially enamored with the rows of fresh seafood, fruit and meat vendors displaying their wares. Most of the seafood was still alive, crabs tied up to protect them from nipping their purchasers and small tanks fed with fresh water to keep everything from prawns to frogs still kicking. The meat market was also quite a sight, some vendors offering body parts that would be considered offal in the west but are evidently quite the delicacy here in Vietnam. The fruit stalls were packed a dazzling display of fresh produce, most of which neither of us could identify, we shelled out $USD0.30 to have a pineapple peeled and then sat in Cong Vien Van Hoa Park devouring it on a bench. It rained on and off today, the torrential downpours lasting only 10 or 20 minutes each, during which time we’d hurry to find cover under the awning of a store or in a covered market. The humidity here is unbelievable, sweat drips from both of us constantly, amazing that some of the locals seem quiet comfortable in jeans and jackets!
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