Saigon blows me away! Everything is moving at an Energizer Bunny-esque speed. From insane motorcycle traffic that never seems to stop flowing to constant Vietnamese chatter to ceaseless sales-pitch bombardments from vendors offering anything from tours to marijuana to souvenirs. It never stops – and I love it! Although Saigon’s streets always seem to be teeming with life, the city really comes alive after the sun goes down and temperatures become bearable.
Our first night out, Vietnamese families flocked into the city park to play with their kids, food stalls appeared out of nowhere, communist statues and flags suddenly lit up and bars turned up the volume. Everyone was out to make a buck or enjoy the moment. After such sensory overload and several strong Vietnamese coffees, it was difficult to go back to our quiet hotel and relax.
But even with all the craziness, there are some places where you can get away from it all. During a Saigon walking tour, we found respite in some of the French-colonial churches, Chinese Buddhist temples and even in a small cafe wedged into the corner of a busy intersection during a rainstorm. While watching the traffic with a morbid fascination, the down-pour started. In an instant, every movement stopped. Old ladies in conical hats, high-heeled glamor girls on Vespas and whole families on motorbikes disappeared under multicolored, polka-dotted or striped rain gear. And then, rain or not, everyone continued their business. Somehow, this was one of the most magical moments…
After the Philippines, which at times was verging on comatose, Vietnam is absolutely re-energizing. I can’t wait to see more!