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Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City – Country’s Hectic Entrance – VIDEO

Published: 26.4.2016
Upon an hour of waiting for a visa I was free to explore the capital of the country I really looked forward to exploring. First of all, I somehow let a cab driver to make a 300 crown rip off. Sometimes things like this happen. But honestly – this happens in Prague as well. Aboard the airplane I could see streets where millions of bikes stream in all directions. And “down” here the traffic is even more crazy. If I compare Ho Chi Minh city to Bangkok, a city of comparable size, in the former there are much less traffic jams. One must add that there is no subway, or rail that would go above the ground. It seems that high taxes on car is working.

Ho Chi Minh City – the capital of Vietnam– many Vietnamese simply call by its former name Saigon (Sài Gòn). However, many think these are two separate cities. Well, they aren’t. The principle is same as in the case of Gottwaldov. The communists renamed it in 1976 after their leader. People didn’t care.

 Ho Chi Minh City

I make the first exploration round in the city. I know very well the traps on tourists in the District 1 area. However, it would be a pity to not to explore it once I live there. There is no better place to start than at Phuc Long café. A perfect advice from my friend revealed to me where finicky Vietnamese like to have their coffee. He was right. Ca Phe Sua Da – strong iced coffee with condensed milk – is far better than its European imitations. Give it a chance! Coffee is an integral part of Vietnamese culture . It is also an important social habit.

 Ho Chi Minh City

Zatím největším zážitkem je tu asi přecházení silnice. Žádné čekání až nic nepojede, to bych čekal do skonání světa. Prostě musím do silnice vlézt a pomalu ji přejít. Jediné štěstí, že už mám trénink z Thajska, jinak bych se odhodlával hodně dlouho.

Actually, all “important” sights were matter of two hours. And this is enough for me. It is very difficult to stay on the street in this heat. Everyone gladly gets in an air-conditioned cafe.

 Ho Chi Minh City

So where to? start at the town hall which was built in the colonial style. In front of it, the bigger-than-life “leader’s” statue, Ho Chi Minh, stands tall. Down from there goes the wide boulevard ofNguyen Hue. Many modern buildings line this street. Near the town hall there is even a little building of opera (made by French as well). Better go to the other side toward the old post office and Notre-Dame cathedral. Actually it is not much of a cathedral than a small church. And the noise over at the post office is worth seeing.

opera post office

Any guide recommends you Ben Thanh market. In my opinion, you should skip it. There is the highest probability to get robbed or be ripped off. If you want to see how a nice local marketplace looks  Notre-Dame rather visit another place in Vietnam. Isntead go to the Independence Palace. There are some artifacts of the Vietnam War including an American copter laying on the roof or simply go to War Remnants Museum. There is truly powerful exhibition about the war.

I am amused to observe the mix of Asian and Western culture in the city – many modern glass skyscrapers (including Bitexco Financial Tower which is 262 meters high) meet, not seldomly, chickens on the street. On the streets of Vietnam, usually there are many Pho Bo soup stands, Bahn Mi baguettes, coffee, fruits… Saigon is no exception to this rule. Dotn worry about “street food”. You will taste the best of Asian cuisine.

Bahn Mi baguettes are just the perfect invention which should be in Europe as well. Fortunately, the Vietnamese in Prague finally came to realization that their cuisine is much better than Chinese. So you can buy your baguettes there! Great!

město ve smogovém oparu

There are surprisingly many beautiful parks in Saigon. Locals usually gather there early in the morning or in the evening to do physical exercises, sit on benches and talk. Be sure to see one. We should take an example from them.

 a street in Ho Chi Minh City a street in Ho Chi Minh City

And now let leave the park for the “true” Asia! This probably is the way how many of us imagine it. Narrow streets, many cables, lots of food on the streets and people as well, a family of five on one bike, sweet-like smell (well, I am still not sure whether I like it or not)… Once I crosse a large street to the District 3 the atmosphere completely changed. Now they were smiling, nobody tries to sell me stuff, nobody tries to rip me off. It is just like in Bangkok - don’t worry about leaving tourist areas for exploration.

GPS: 10°46'46.4"N 106°41'58.6"E

Text, photos, and video: Matouš Vinš

Music: Dexter Britain



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