During the Thai new year celebration, Katie and I had a hefty long weekend up our sleeves and we decided to backpack Vietnam... in five days. It was quite a feat, and I think we did pretty well for ourselves. Our first stop was Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, depending on how you look at it. We had a taxi driver who liked to use Saigon, and met several others who said HCMC. I'm partial to the historic aspect, so we'll go with Saigon.
The differences we noticed after arriving from Thailand were pretty small, like the degree of honking and the increase (was it possible?!) in the number of motorbikes. We arrived in the city and got to our first destination, Saigon Central Post Office and Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, right as the sun was about to set. You can see the change in the sky and the light pretty drastically, the following images only span about ten minutes.
A cute little old lady selling bananas outside the post office lured us into buying some overpriced fruit and trying out her balancing act. Fun, and just the beginning of our "how much should this be?" woes throughout the week.
On our unofficial coffee tour of the city, we stopped at Highlands Coffee per the recommendation of the friend we were staying with in the city. Vietnamese Dong is all in thousands, so we were feeling pretty rich as we fumbled through converting things from dong to baht to dollars.
Brit met us us at one of her favorite phở restaurants, which I couldn't find online if my life depended on it. Couldn't come to Vietnam without trying phở, (pronounced "fuh?") so we spent our first meal in the city eating a sort of glorified kuaythiaw. Delicious, nonetheless.
To finish the evening we had some sweetened condensed milk with a side of coffee (essentially) at Trung Nguyên, another Vietnamese coffee shop. The Vietnamese way to drink coffee is such. I'm not opposed to sweet coffee, but that stuff was pure nom.
One thing we miss a ton of in Thailand is Chai Tea Lattes. The ones in Saigon were just like America! We were pretty sad to say we didn't have time to get a second one, but the amount of coffee we consumed during this trip without a second CTL was enough to replace all the water in our bodies.
On another note: Vietnam has so much French influence, do any research on Vietnamese history and you'll see why. Several of the buildings have a very French air about them, in Hanoi especially, which I'll post a blog about soon!
As far as Saigon, our last coffee stop was Shelter, a cute little four story coffee house in the middle of a busy part of town. Aside from a really tasty brew, this place had the cutest atmosphere I had yet seen in SGN, and I wish we had found it earlier and planned a second stop. Can you tell I sweat coffee?
Katie and I both have family members who have been in the military, and as tourists in Saigon, we had to stop at the War Remnants Museum. This place was crazy packed with tourists from all over, we even ran into a girl who had sat next to us on the flight to SGN. Propaganda from Nam was all over the inside of the museum, phrases like "USA out of SEA" papering the walls in mint condition like the war was last year or something. A storm rolled in just as we were leaving and we spent about ten minutes trapped under the wing of a plane in the yard before running through the puddles to catch a way-too-expensive taxi.