More than two years ago. My first day in Ho Chi Minh City and my first impressions. I am gonna share memories of the beginning of my long journey to Vietnam. Nostalgie.
The first question I asked myself on the approach to the Ho Chi Minh City was something like “Where is, actually, the skyscrapers?”. From the bird’s-eye view Ho Chi Minh City looks kinda short, especially if you fly from Bangkok. Of course we have some of them here but not so much. Somehow it’s not so common to build high buildings.
Still hot. But a bit easier to breathe than in Bangkok. Dunno why. Maybe I just dreaming. The climate is the same. But chocolate still melt.
Passport control. So quiet. Peaceful. I wanted to whisper instead of talking normally. People around are mostly hardened travelers and backpackers in the puffy pants with elephants.
No Chinese! There is some complications with China so they are not really welcome here. Vietnamese hate them since childhood and many do not even know why. Maybe that’s why the airport is so quiet.
They are presented here. Pretty normal buses with tickets and staff. These buses follow the routes and schedule. Number 152, for example, takes you from the airport
to the market to the city center, and number 102 – from the center to District 7.
Tickets are surprisingly cheap. One for the 152 route costs 5000₫ ($0.2), and for the 102 is 6000₫ ($0.3). Huge city can be crossed by two busses and one american rapper price. Cheap, huh?
If hell exists, then must be a sinners from Vietnam design the roads to that place. Not so many cars here, taxi cars only. All locals drive “motorbike for rent” scooters model. Feels like an anthill. The rules are not followed, traffic lights are often ignored, people drive on sidewalks. Good to be on the bus.
Talking about the sidewalks. Vietnam is much more friendly to pedestrians than, for example, Thailand. Many parks around (well, at least in Ho Chi Minh City), roads are equipped with sidewalks. Nice embankments / seafronts / quays or how the hell you call it in english?
There are two problems with cheap hotels in backpackers areas. They cut down the electricity during the daytime and rooms do not have windows. Not all of rooms and not all of hotels, of course, but it is pretty normal for a cheap places. Fells creepy. But it is also can be very cheap. I was lucky to find $12 room with not just a window but small balcony. And cat.
About hell, again. This is a real torture. Mess on the road is accompanied by beeping. Absolutely everyone beep beep like a fanatic. The second source of the noise is constructions. Outside, inside. Everywhere. Above, on the left, on the right, somewhere under you. It is impossible to fall asleep, even if you didn’t sleep for 40 hours. Road House.
Constructions are, of course, most significant attractions of Vietnam. Take, for example, the oldest one: right opposite to Ben Thanh Market. The main square of the city, the place of arrival of all tourists, the end of all roads and … a big fence.
They form legends about this building and pee on that fence. No one neither remember what they build or when it all begun. And locals have become so used to it that they no longer notice construction. But there is progress. Recently the started the second one right opposite! And now it’s much more fun!
Street seller puts a bowl of rice on the chair size table. Seriously, that’s everywhere in Vietnam. These mini-chairs and mini-tables.
Rice, noodles, as usual. Portions are huge. Too much even for two persons. Something new and unusual in Asia is bread. Thing that I miss so much in Thailand can be easily found here. It can be a small baguette serving a rice, or big “bánh mì” kind of sandwich, or meatballs dish with bread. Delight, happiness, love.
It numbers in the thousands and millions. Bank notes feels like a plastic on touch and have a transparent spot. No coins.
In most countries in Southeast Asia we see some kind of spaghetti hieroglyphs instead of letters. In Vietnam it is a latin characters with dashes, dots and caps. You can even try to read, memorize, compare and google them. Very comfortable.
Tinh thần ngay khỏi nam kỳ bất diệt = The spirit of the immortal south