Ho Chi Minh city aka Saigon!!

Trip Start Jan 07, 2008
Trip End Jul 22, 2008

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Where I stayed
Hen's Guesthouse

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Sunday, April 20, 2008

I've made it all the way down to another crazy bustling Vietnamese city...what everyone still calls Saigon! I expected not to like it here but to my surprise, i do enjoy. Got myself a wee guesthouse (only 2 rooms) in this very sweet family's home. I have the 'penthouse', room on top floor with balcony. The homes are all found in these narrow alleys which are really called streets i'm sure to the locals...tall narrow homes (similar to homes in amsterdam if that helps any). Yesterday, from my balcony down below i could see family/friends having a nice meal and beer in the alley/street (what i call an alley is their frontyard/porch/dining area)...think it was a birthday celebration..jealous i wasn't invited but nice to watch. It's interesting to see how efficiently they use their very tiny spaces. The kids were playing with chalk on the pavement just like any other kids.

This morning i went oot and aboot and got welcomed 'home' with an afternoon iced tea and banana as like the previous day...how nice! It amazes me how this family of four lives down on the ground floor (another guestroom on 2nd floor) using only one room (size of a modest hotelroom) for everything - lounging, tv, dining, sleeping, kitchen and a lil room with a loo in the corner. It's all very clean though, nicely finished with nice flooring. It makes me feel humble with having the 'penthouse' just for myself, one person when they're all crammed...certainly don't mind paying $8/night.

I went to the War Remnants Museum..very interesting and touching. It was mostly a display of photos with captions from the war, people affected from the war. I will never get my head around war and why it comes to that...i didn't realize the aftermath of war and the problems it brings lingers so long, like the landmines of course...and also Agent Orange. Have you heard of it? i know my history and war knowledge is not good but from my understanding now - Dioxin aka agent orange, a harmful chemical used by the US in the war still affects people today. People who were exposed to it enough during the war always have it in their system and can reproduce babies with major disabilities and difficulties. I had noticed quite a few disabled people and now i put it together..its heartwrenching. The family i'm staying with, one of the sons is severely disabled, just lays on the floor in a ball, all curled, can't talk really and i'm assuming that it's from agent orange. People that weren't even alive during the war are serverly punished for other people's problems, not to mention these parents who lived through the war and have a lifelong of caring-for now....it really is sad to see! Anyways so the photos really struck a cord with me (as photos usually do for me...i find them so powerful), found them really captivating!

Then i strolled through a park, sat, watched, took pictures, walked more, ate..nothing too exciting. I am enjoying my stay here though. I have to say Vietnam has turned around for me, hopefully i'm not speaking too soon. The last week i have felt more welcome, felt more warmth and friendliness...my mentality had turned around as well which allowed me to apprecaite the nice simple things as i do adn forget the petty negative things that don't matter. Just laugh and smile!!

Alrighty roo...stay tuned..next time i will be in Cambodia. Bye bye to Vietnam!!

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