Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon as most of the locals still call it)

We had been told that HCMC was busy, chaotic, crazy and it would be impossible to cross the road. Anyone who thought this had obviously not been to Mumbai! We were only there for 3 days and enjoyed our time.

We’ve found that student walking tours are a reasonably cheap way of getting insights into the cities we visit and our lovely guide Kim spoke good English and provided an excellent introduction to the city.

Kim offered us the opportunity to make our own fresh coconut iced coffee. Here she is buying the soft, creamy coconut flesh from a stall in Ben Thanh market.
Notre Dame Cathedral de Saigon!
In front of the City Hall with the lotus pond in the foreground. In common with many other old buildings in the city, it was built by the French and shows off their distinctive colonial style
Another French colonial building. Kim told us that the grey block on the top right of the picture was the site that the last American helicopters took off from when they abandoned the city to the communist armies.
We found this iconic image of the last Americans leaving Saigon on 29th April 1975
We made our coconut iced coffee in a cafe in the old building just a couple of floors below where this historic scene played out!

Later in the day we visited the War Remnants Museum, which incorporated part of a prison. There were artifacts such as a guillotine and reproductions showing the barbarous conditions originally imposed on Vietnamese independence fighters by the French colonial power, and more recently used by the American backed South Vietnamese government. The exhibits in the main part of the museum were predominantly contemporary images of the Vietnam War taken by internationally renowned war photographers of the day. It felt very uncomfortable to be be presented with the terrible images and consequences of American actions during the war. The information was obviously provided from the Vietnamese (Communist) perspective and gave us a different viewpoint. As people who can remember the TV news coverage as well as the attempted justifications by Western governments during the 1970’s it really challenged our views.

Outside the museum were tanks, planes guns and other weapons and ordinance from the war.

The following day we felt we needed to cheer ourselves up a bit so we visited the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens.

Big Bird by Paul!
Taking selfies and eating at the same time seems to require a lot of concentration which is why Ali’s looking grim!
Lotus Pond

On our final evening we treated ourselves to dinner at a nice vegetarian wholefood restaurant, then headed off for amazing night views of Ho Chi Minh City from the Eon Heli Cocktail Bar on the 52nd floor of the Bitexco Financial Tower.

View from the floor to ceiling glass windows at the Heli Bar. In the distance is Landmark 81, the tallest building in Vietnam

Our next journey involved another bus, this time it turned up – Hurrah!
After a 6.5 hour journey and another border crossing, we arrived in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.

One thought on “Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon as most of the locals still call it)”

  1. Loving the blog. We miss you guys! When do you have internet connection let us know, still need to wish Paul a delayed happy birthday over FaceTime! It’s been this silly long time since we spoke xxx


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