Trip Start Jul 29, 2009
Trip End Jan 23, 2010

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Flag of Vietnam  , Hồ Chí Minh,
Sunday, October 4, 2009

Ho Chi Minh City, which was formally Saigon, was my favorite city that we have visited in Vietnam. It is just like the other major cities, but there are a lot of in-town touristy things to do, which was a nice break from all the site-seeing that we have been doing otherwise. Neither I nor Tara are much of shoppers, but they have some things here that we just couldn't resist, especially for the prices! I got Simpsons DVDs, seasons 1-18 for about $18 (in the States, probably around $500). STOKED! We also bought some movies on DVD that are just now hitting the theaters in the US for about $0.60 apiece. Can't beat that. Tara found some Ed and Hardy shoe-ripoffs for $8. And we each got some t-shirts. The deals here are amazing. I forgot to rip most of my episodes of The Simpsons to my computer (which is my security blanket when I am not at home) and have been very pissed at myself for not doing so. So finding all of the seasons of The Simpsons on the streets of Vietnam came as a huge surprise. We spent most of our first day here just hanging around the backpacker's district of Ho Chi Minh City, which is where our mini hotel is located.
Today we took the day to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels about 2 hours out of the city. The Cu Chi Tunnels are basically the underground systems of tunnels that the Communist regime used in the south of Vietnam to hold back American soldiers. It was... an interesting experience. I imagine we probably felt the same as the Japanese people do when they visit Pearl Harbor, except in the US the video and audio guides that guide them through the sites probably don't call the Japanese "the Japanese devils", which is how they did it here. We weren't really sure how we should have felt about that. I was a little bit annoyed, to say the very least, considering basically the only people who visit the site are Westerners, including some Americans. The bus ride to and from the tunnels was terrible. Mine and Tara's seats were broken, as were the two people's in front of us. So it was like sitting on a trampoline while we were constantly having our knees smashed which hardly fit in front of us anyway. We were sitting on the wheel-well of the bus and I think that I had Yao Ming, or possibly his 8 and a half foot tall cousin, sitting behind me with his legs in my back for the entire trip. I guess that's what we get for only paying $5 for the day. Our tour guide, on the other hand, was excellent! He had played the role of a communications officer in the war, so had tons of personally experienced information about the war and he really liked us because we were from California.
Tomorrow we are leaving Ho Chi Minh City to head back north to a city called Phan Thiep on the coast. It will be about a 6 hour bus ride. We spent a little bit more money and got a good price on a room at a resort on the beach. So we will probably spend the next week or so relaxing and maybe catching some waves (if there are any). I would recommend to anyone to visit Vietnam if they get the chance. The people here are extremely friendly, there is tons of history and sites to see, the beer is $0.25 a pint, and everything else is dirt-cheap. Good times!
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