In Hungarian / Magyarul – Egy Utazásmániás Tyúk Naplója: Jó reggelt, Saigon
I never thought I would have been so impressed by a city. During my South Asia trip (Phuket – Singapore – Kuala Lumpur – Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) – Siem Reap – Bangkok – Phuket) it was one of my favourite ones.
I don’t know why I love SAIGON so much. Maybe because of the chaos, maybe because of the “nostalgic feeling” I got from visiting the most important sights of the city including the War Museum, maybe because the people were the friendliest ones I met in South-East Asia. It has a special place in my heart and in my memories.
I saw there a lot although I didn’t stay there for such a long time.
I went on 2 excursions to the Mekong Delta, including visiting floating markets, coconut factories, rice fields, boat ride along the river.
I went to the Cao Dai Tempel, the center of a Vietnamese religious movement and I went to the Cu Chi tunnels too, where the Vietkong soldiers were hiding from the U.S. army during the Vietnamese War.
And I went on a Saigon City Tour to see the most important sights and get some information about the history too.The tour began at 8.00 from the office of TNK tours, it cost about 15$. First we visited the War Remnants Museum (entrance was 50.000 VND) where we could get to know the history of the Vietnam War, effects of the war, victims, weapons, pictures of the people and military vehicles. It was terrible, I couldn’t take pictures of all the photos inside because some of them were disgusting. What the bombs, chemicals (like the ‘Agent Orange’) did to them and to their children is without words.
I read that the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs believed that there were 500,000 children born with birth defects while 4.8 million people were exposed to it from 1961 to 1971.
After that coffee and tea shop (commission to the guide:) came the Thien Hau Pagoda. It is a Buddhist temple dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess, Mazu.
It is popular for its incenses, everywhere you find them burning, even from the ceiling.
Before lunch we also visited a market, took a lot of pictures of the sellers, fishermen there and even bought a cute Vietnamese hat 🙂
The last stop was at the Reunification Palace. Inside you can find a war room and a telecommunications center. It was the site of the end of the Vietnam War, when a North Vietnamese Army tank entered on 30th April in 1975.
And we also went to a wood carving factory, where we could find beautiful wooden pictures, boxes, other decorations and furniture.
We arrived back at Saigon at around 18.00 and I was really amazed by this country and the people 🙂
Suggestions: Book organized tours in the Pham Ngu Lao area, there are many agencies, the excursions are very cheap (8 – 14 $ for a whole day with lunch…) Otherwise you can’t see that many things in one day by yourself! (Thanks to the weather too, it is exhausting at that heat to discover everything alone with e.g. Public transport)
What I remember about Saigon (I prefer this name) are: French colonial buildings, Vietnam War memorials (tanks, posters), crossing the street while praying not to be hit by a scooter (you must walk slowly, stopping and not running to the other side), watching early morning Tai Chi exercise in the park, delicious Vietnamese dishes (yummy), sudden heavy rain that stopped 30 minutes later, the constant humidity…
Some sights I didn’t see or I don’t remember seeing, because we just passed by, the Notre Dame Cathedral, the City Post Office, the Opera House or the Hotel Majestic… Maybe next time. But when I visit Vietnam next time, I would rather go to see the Halong Bay (too).