I traveled to Vietnam in the end of 2018 to visit my family. They had moved to Ho Chi Minh City because of a job situation, and we planned to spend some familytime when my sister and I were able to fly to their new occasional home.
I had no expectations. Other than it’s gonna be warm! And warm it was, and humid!
I got some kind of a picture of the city of Ho Chi Minh (previously known as Saigon), but I got to experience only a fracture of it. The few days I spent in the metropolis (almost 13 million people living there!) left me with a curious attitude towards the historical city, and the country in general.
The first impression: there are scooters everywhere! And so much of them!
The second impression: people seem kind.
The third impression: it’s a city of contrasts: very poor/very fancy.
I got to walk around in couple of parts of the city and it was very versatile. In some corner there was a street food market, in some corner there was a chain hotel.
The city’s feeling was French and Asian. In a way that the buildings were very decorative that reminded of Paris for example, but the traffic with scooters and the humid weather with tropical plants put you right into the Southeast Asian “vibe”.
Ho Chi Minh City radiated appreciation of beauty and also some kind of a humbleness. It must come from the devastating near history with the Vietnam War. Without going too much to that topic, I can only say that it felt like there was a new time developing after tough times. To me that is always beautiful how humanity is able to rise from hard times.
Left photo: Notre Dam Cathedral of Saigon. It’s located in the Paris Square. Represents times when Vietnam was a French colony during 1880-1945 (wonder why it felt so French.. ;D). Right photo: Saigon station. Picture of Ho Tši Minh himself (former president of Vietnam).
The food was very colorful. What I remember best was the Vietnamese crepes, which were filled with all kinds of vegetables and yummy sauces. The fruit were also just from a different planet I was used to having in the cold north.
What I also will never ever forget, is the strenght of Vietnamese coffee. We were in for a treat when our familys’ friend kindly took me and my sister to their coffee place and introduced us to their traditional ways of drinking caffeine. Plainly, with a slow dripper (like in the photo) it was like hard liquor. I think I even got drunk from it (lol).
The other way we tasted it was as ice coffee. That was done by adding condensed milk and ice to the coffee. It was interesting! And much more pleasant for me. The beans most used in Vietnamese coffee is robusta, and that has a unique rosted flavour to it.
As we were in Ho Chi Minh for a short period of time, we wanted to go for an organized tourist trip with my sister to see Vietnam from a different view. We decided to hop on a tour bus one day that took us to a Buddhist temple and to a river tour at Mekong Delta.
This was the part in the Buddhist temple.
This was the part in the are of the Mekong Delta river. We learned that there are several “tribes” living in the river area in very primal circumstances. They make a living from tourism.
After our day trip, we were tired but happy to have seen such different ways of living.
We still had one day left in Ho Chi Minh before other plans, and my family took me to the famous market, Ben Thanh Market. It was full of food and other stuff! My focus was mainly in the colourful fruits and veggies. So pretty!
After seeing some city attractions, taking the tourist tour and visiting the Ben Thanh Market, it was time to pack up my belongies and start the next advernture in the “vacation island” of Vietnam: Phu Quoc.
See you there!