Though called Ho Chi Minh City now, I found most Vietnamese still call the city Saigon. I asked a few why and they said that although they respect Ho Chi Minh, they simply prefer to say Saigon because it’s shorter! Not kidding, I heard this from more than one person. Well, I figured when in
Rome Vietnam do as the Romans Vietnamese do so I called it Saigon, too!
We arrived in crazy hot, busy and chaotic Saigon and were met by our guide at the airport. Was I ever glad to see him because outside of the airport there were throngs of people and the permeating sound of a man screaming something out over and over again. Our guide explained that he had lost his child in the crowd and was yelling her name. I immediately felt sick to my stomach and gripped Coco’s hand tighter than ever as we made our way through to the car.
We arrived at our highrise hotel around 9pm, smack dab in the middle of the bustling city. Coco had fallen asleep on the ride from the airport and that gave me more than enough time to internalize the stress from the airport scene while looking at the crowded city from my backseat window which prompted me to change the plan for the next day. We were supposed to be touring Saigon by foot but I nixed it in favor of another idea we had toyed with earlier, visiting the Mekong Delta. I spoke to my guide about changing the itinerary and before I went to bed that night it was all set up to have him meet us at our hotel at 8:00 the next morning for the drive south. It turned out to be a great idea, and a great way to spend my birthday! Yep, I got to celebrate my birthday in Vietnam. I thought that was pretty unique. 🙂
We drove about two hours outside of Saigon to get there. Our guide said there were something like 11 million people in Saigon and like 5 million motorcycles. I believe it. They were everywhere! Really, everywhere. Once we got out of the city the sites from the car were interesting, too. I especially found these gravestones to be so large and unusual. It appears to be common to bury your loved ones right on your rice field.
There were also many, many places that sold phở on the side of the roads. And fresh fruit.Oh, and I thought this was interesting! These are rest stops! Hammocks for the motorcyclists! How awseome are these? Order a beer and then take a nap! Love it.
We arrived to the dock and got on our boat. It was just me, Coco, our guide and the ‘captain’. What do you call someone one drives these types of boats? Wow, this post has a lot of photos already so I will write about my special birthday in the Mekong Delta in the next post. I’m trying to catch up because we finished our trip to Vietnam two weeks ago and so much has happened since then to record. Stay tuned..