Friday, July 21, 2006

Hello Saigon

We arrived in Saigon yesterday afternoon after a very long bus ride from Dalat. Ahh, Dalat. People traveling North instead of South had told us that Saigon is very, very hot but I am here to report that Hanoi is much hotter. I have to admit that I'm really sweating for serious right now.

Saigon is pretty cool! There's a nice feeling in the streets that's somehow less hostile or serious than the North. At least I felt that way yesterday.

Today we went to a big market and within seconds people were literally harassing us; calling out, holding up items in our faces, and touching our arms as we walked by. I used to love markets but I can say I wouldn't bother in this country.

We went to the War Remnants Museum today which showed all kinds of things about the Vietnam war, which I used to know nothing about and now know a thing or two. I'm glad for that. The museum showed only a little history of why the war happened and who supported it and who demonstrated against it. It also focused heavily on the photo-journalists who lost their lives documenting it and the effects of Agent Orange, 80 million litres (I think it was litres...) was dumped on the country.

For the curious and uneducated (like myself), Vietnam was divided into North and South and in the sixtiesthe North was communsit and the South and America and a bunch of other countries joined forces to fight that. The museum made it seem like America just bombed the shit out of Vietnam, which may well be true but I don't know because of the one-sidedness of the museum. Anyway, for ten years the war raged on in Vietnam until in 1975 America withdrew and North Vietnam defeated the south, unifying the country and turning it communist. I should really just become a history teacher.

After the museum we went to Pho 2000 where Bill Clinton once ate. Yeah, America!!! The pho was alright. I saved some room for vegetable rolls that I really loved in the vietnamese restaurants in Korea so we went back into the hellish market to find some.

I found a food stall with some on display so I sat down and tried to order just one. On the menu is said 3,000 dong beside vegetable roll. The proprietor lady said some jibber jabber I didn't understand but didn't seem to want me to buy just one. I only wanted one. We had a moment of frustration and she called over another lady to help. I could have sworn the lady said that it costs 3,000 for two rolls. Fine, two it is. I ate the alright veggie rolls and handed her my 3,000 dong. She wanted 6,000. We had a fight. I was so pissed. She probably was pissed. Really it is only pennies but the conversation had been clear and the situation just sucked.

I miss Canada where the price is the price and that's that. I miss the sidewalks and the traffic lights and the order. I miss the public bathrooms. I'll be home in a month.

Overall I'm having a good time traveling. I don't have many bad moments and sometimes the bad moments are the ones that make it interesting. Today we were sitting having a drink at a bar and a guy just sat down and said "what's your name, where you from, where've you been?" I like that kind of friendly confidence. Alternatively, two nights ago and guy sat down and said "I like you, when can I see you again?" That's bullshit, I hate it, never do that guys out there.

Along that line I've been getting a lot of funny comments these days. The sun is showing on my skin and people don't know what to do with me. In the last few weeks I've been told I look Italian, Brazilian, Indian, Vietnamese, Scottish (?), and probably more but I can't remember now. I'm nothing but Canadian, sorry to say.

Tomorrow we're heading to the town of Cu Chi to see the Cu Chi tunnels that the Viet Cong used to ambush the Americans.

The next day we're taking a two day boat tour of the Mekong Delta, ending up in Phnom Phen, Cambodia.

2 Comments:

At July 22, 2006 6:22 PM , Blogger Kiran said...

phnom penh...ahh yes, you can have a french baguette club sandwich near the river while poor half naked children peddle photocopied books to your table...the buildings are all rusted and well...

"...the whole country needs a coat of paint; but that's part of it's charm..."

-- Stellan SkarsgÄrd in Matt Dillon's City of Ghosts...filmed in Cambodia...

you will see what i mean...

DO NOT miss out on Tuol Sleng or the Killing Fields...and watch where you step...land mines...! the fast boat to Siem reap is worth it, though may not be going because the tonle sap might be too low....don't take the bus...

oh yeah and find the backpacker haven of floating stilt hostels and bars on a filthy lake somewhere in the north east of the city...don't necessarily stay there...

if you can find "Rendez-Vous" restaurant along the water...walk 3 and a half blocks away from the tonle sap along street #136 stopping just before Norodom Blvd and look for the International Guest House...it rocks!!! And check out the funky Salt Lounge bar on street #136 near the tonle sap and rendez vous restaurant...

 
At July 22, 2006 6:24 PM , Blogger Kiran said...

that filthy backpacker haven stilt hostel lake is the Boeng Kak lake and it's actually in the northwest of the city...

 

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