As we exited the airplane in Ho Chi Minh it was evident we had left the peaceful village life behind. Throngs of people were pushing and shoving to be first in line at passport control. Some even started running! Hahaha! Such a site! The baggage carrousel wan no different, having to push and shove through people just to get your bags. Welcome to life in a busy city!
Off we went by taxi to find our hotel. We thought Bangkok had the craziest drivers anywhere with tuk tuks and scooters racing around each other. Well, Vietnam has them beat any day of the week! Crazy doesn’t even begin to describe the roads. Scooters race so close to cars, the cars have to slide in their side view mirrors at stop lights so they don’t get wacked off. Crossing the street on foot is literally the same as playing Frogger on the most advanced level. It took a few days to get the hang of it, but eventually it became second nature to step out in the middle of the mayhem and hope for the best!
It’s always nice to be in a walking city. We spent an entire day just walking the streets and taking in the culture. We saw the Vietnamese Notre Dame and opera house, the old post office and the train station. On our last evening in town we even managed to catch a water puppet show. It’s supposedly an ancient Vietnamese art form. It was definitely something you don’t see everyday and it was a good use of an hour while we waited for our bus.
What I think we’ll all remember most about Ho Chi Minh was our visit to the Vietnam War museum. It was interesting to hear the story of the war through the eyes of the Vietnamese as we’ve only learned about if form a US perspective. I never learned how oppressed the Vietnamese were by the French prior to the war or how venerable they were when the US arrived to “help them become a democratic union”. The exhibits were hard to look at, especially for the kids. We kept reminding them though that we can’t just see the pretty things in this world. We need to see the ugly too in order to understand our history and it’s people.
What I’ve come to love about Asia the most is that it constantly surprises me. Vietnam was no different. We saw a guy walking the streets in a clown costume, city mice the size of dogs, grandmas ripping down the road on their scooters. We discovered different bird and flowers than we’ve seen anywhere in the world. We played hacky sack with the locals in the park and ate sandwiches with who knows what in them. After four days we hopped on the disco-lit night bus headed for the beach. Peace out city life, we’re headed to the beach for a little R&R.