Archive for Ho Chi Minh

15 Nov 2014

Saigon Special

2 Comments Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Amidst an ever-changing skyline, history leaves its imprint on the streets of Ho Chi Minh. Firstly, there is some beautiful French colonial architecture and then a rather more distressing architecture of a different kind, people with deformities, missing limbs etcetera.

It was with that mindset that we entered the War Remnants Museum and it did not disappoint. I walked out of there with knots in my stomach, sickened at the thought of what man can inflict on another in the name of an ideal. Pedro shook his head and said, “I need a beer,” and grabbed one from a guy with a cool-box on the side of the road.

Ho Chi Minh streets are abuzz with taxis, motorbikes, bicycles and other contraptions ferrying a never ending procession of people from here to there. We look for a gap in traffic. Ha ha ha there is none and step across the road. Miraculously we arrive at the other side. And we wait for Pedro (eyes rolling)!!!

We shop at Saigon Square bargaining with the best of them on ‘genuine‘ fake copies of original designer goods. We fall for the trap, hoarding things we neither need nor want.

The colourful street-front shop houses are deceptive. Outside they wear the weathering of the tropics, while inside they are designer chic coffee shops and bars with fit-outs that would not look out of place in London or Manhattan. We lull away hours inside in the cool refrigerated air sipping cups of coffee or Saigon Special beers until we have forgotten what it is like outside.

The Vietnamese smile a lot and they are very friendly, yes even friendlier than a Galway bar full of mad Irishmen at happy hour.

We crave the tastes of the street and we venture to the outskirts of District 1 where the locals eat. We sit on low plastic child-sized stools out on the footpath. Clams, clams and more clams. In a mad dash for the loo I realise that knotted feeling I have been experiencing is not knots but food poisoning. Urghhhh! We fall like dominos. First me, then Paul … and later that day Andrew, until Pedro is the last man standing.


The art of crossing the road 'Pedro-style'


Good coffee