Every day in Saigon has been different. The air quality changes from day to day. On Friday the air was so thick with vehicle exhaust, it was very difficult to breathe. It forced us to try and find roads to travel off the beaten path. Wow!! I am glad we were forced away. I discovered that there are little cities within cities. A person encounters little narrow alleyways everywhere, but if you glance down them, they look like nothing interesting. If you walk down then, it takes you into another world. A maze of shops, houses, and anything you could desire.
I drew quite a few shocked stares from people, but they were genuinely thrilled to see a westerner in their neighborhood. The children would follow all giggles and sweet hello’s. The teenagers in their school uniforms would call out their hello’s and then burst into fits of laughter when I would respond. They are so cute and innocent. I was also amazed to find small but good looking hotels in these alleys. 7 to 10 dollars will get you a room.
Saigon and Vietnam in general is like a big jigsaw puzzle. You start with a big confusing pile of pieces, but as you start fitting them together, it all starts to make sense. The more I understand the more I am loving this.
Saigon is a massive city. At it’s center is district 1.
It includes downtown, most of the cultural attractions, and what is known as the backpacker area. This is where most of the tourists come. There are many hotels of different classes and lots of action on the streets. You can find western dishes, good cold beer, and even girlie bars. (more on all of this another time)
Every evening, I sit at a corner restaurant and spend an hour just soaking it all in. And every night I have mad a new friend. Some tourists from all over the world who are keenly interested in what I can tell them to make their trip pleasant, and lessen some of the culture shock, And Vietnamese who want western friends to practice English with.
Saigon just had its first heritage festival last night. A small start because of mostly east Asian and Indian booths, But Saigon changes faster than a person can keep up with.
For example, We wished to purchase a piece of sewing equipment as a gift for our sister. There is only 10 business that sell this item and they are all located on the same block in one district. Only there can you find what you are looking for. The same is true for almost everything. There will be a 10 block square that sells only wire and cable, toilets, etc, etc.
This is my last night in Saigon. We will be traveling by night train to Nha Trang. Here are some random pictures It might be a few days before I get back to posting.
District 1 is surrounded by 11 more districts and a number of named districts.
Each of these areas has it’s own flavor.