Downtown Saigon

Trip Start Sep 23, 2008
Trip End Oct 31, 2008

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Today starts with a disgustingly early get up and an hours drive to Da Nang airport in order to catch a flight to Ho Chi Minh city. Unsurprisingly, it was still raining, heavily.

After a short flight we arrive in Ho Chi Minh city, formerly and currently known as Saigon. Apparently, Ho Chi Minh is the name of the whole city (population 12 million), Saigon is still used in reference to the very centre of the city.

On arrival it's sunny and hot - it turns out that the humidity will catch up with us later.

This is Vietnam's largest city and its commercial centre. It's also busy, thousands and thousands of scooters - we're back to traffic chaos and risking your life every time you step out in front of moving traffic when crossing the road, that said, it's not quite as noisy as Hanoi. The city is of French design - wide tree lined boulevards and Parisian style civic buildings. Overall, it's more modern, has more high rise buildings and more western recognised brands (both real and fake).

First stop on our city tour was the war remnants museum. To give you a clue of the perspective, it was formerly called the war crimes museum. It was interesting to see information about the American war from another viewpoint (that of the winning side). There was a bit of over the top propaganda, but it did live up to the war crimes name. As such it was not the most inspirational or exciting museum, with extensive statistics on the number of bombs the Americans dropped, the amount of chemical weapons used and the resultant, peace-time injuries caused by unexploded weapons and chemicals (Agent Orange in particular).

Then it was off on a walk to see the post office and church (both French colonial design) and then, after lunch, to the presidential palace - a 1960s concrete building where the president of South Vietnam worked and lived and from where the last Americans fled via helicopter from the roof.

Then we walked to our hotel and sorted out our stuff ready for tomorrow.

Dinner featured views of the city - an excellent meal on the 9th floor of a hotel, followed by cocktails on the 14th floor of another hotel.
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