HCMC/Saigon

August 19th, 2010

Arriving in Ho Chi Minh City aka Saigon was a whirlwind for me.  New to Vietnam and SE Asia, and just out of Japan, it feel like it would have been hard for me to find two more diametrically different locations to visit one after another.

I had read what WikiTravel has to say about Saigon before arriving, but like anything, it is hard to imagine until you are actually there.  Walking out of the airport, I was assaulted by people asking where I was going and taxi drivers hunting for a fare.  Luckily, I’d already arranged a ride from the airport through a contact I’d previously made via a Vietnamese dating website, VietnamCupid.   Joining this site turned out to be one of the best things I could have done for seeing the city/country.  Upon arrival, Theresa, a pretty short and kind woman found me as I made my way to an ATM to acquire some of the local currency.  She waited for me, then I followed her to her motorbike and I hopped on the back and rode to my hotel.

When I was a kid, my father had a few mopeds.  It has been so long I can’t recall if I’d ever been on them before.  So either this was my first motorbike ride in my life, or the first one in 20 or more years.  Either way, it felt like my first.  And weaving through the traffic in a new country with a strange girl totally unfamiliar with everything… well, let’s just say it was quite an introduction to the country.

Traffic here moves like a school of fish.  going everywhere, no one stopping unless necessary, always flowing.   check out some typical vietnamese traffic.

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