inconsistent news from southeast asia

Vietnam-Travelogue  |  Travel time: September 2005 - March 2006  |  by Matthew Audley

Saigon! (HCMC?)

Day 74 (Nov. 26)

Much more of the day than we'd expected was spent on a bus. It's only some 300km to Saigon (according to our guidebook), but it took until 3:30 or so to arrive despite our apparent breakneck speed. Our driver was a lunatic from hell, but managed not to kill us.

Most of Saigon is much like this.  Crossing the street was a scary, scary thing, especially the night Vietnam won the SE Asian football cup.

Most of Saigon is much like this. Crossing the street was a scary, scary thing, especially the night Vietnam won the SE Asian football cup.

On arrival in Saigon's primary backpacker ghetto (Pham Ngu Lao), we looked for a GH, thinking it would be as easy as it was in Hanoi, where we were prompty offered a $5 room that was more than adequate. Wrong. This is a distinctly different city and unlike the rest of Vietnam, you can get scary accomodations.

After a much needed lunch, I left Catherine with the luggage and searched through 7 or 8 different places before establishing that this was just the level or accomodation you get here and settling on a place that then gave away our room before I could come back. Eventually, we did end up with a decent, dingy place. It's noisy at night, but earplugs are a miraculous invention.

the dinge.

the dinge.

Day 75 (Nov. 27), we went to the War Museum. I'm not sure what I can say about the experience, but it's well worth doing. The first thing you see is an assortment of tanks, artillery and planes and it manages to get progressively more unsettling from there. There was an excellent exhibit of photographs by war photographers who died during the war as well as a video on the effects of Agent Orange. This was followed by the "hall of war crimes" (horrifying pinacle of the museum, of course), then recreations of the tiger cages used for detention in some areas, including descriptions of the tortures routinely used by both sides, followed by some photos of international opposition to the war and post-war Vietnam.

It was all a bit much, taking us some 3 hours, but we're both glad to have seen it.

War Remnants Museum.

War Remnants Museum.

Nov. 28th, Catherine wasn't feeling too well and we didn't manage to see much of anything. The next day, however, we went to visit the main square in Saigon, where all the Americans were hiding out during the various wars here. Also, it was featured in "The Quiet American" (The Continental Hotel) and "Full-Metal Jacket". Interesting note here - that movie claims it was filmed ON LOCATION but it was filmed in London. It's really just a lot of expensive hotels and the opera house at this point, but it was good to see it.

Square that i forget the name of, Saigon.

Square that i forget the name of, Saigon.

We also checked out the big market here, but i think i'm a bit jaded on big markets at this point.

Some surprising things about Saigon include the fact that there are lots of streets lined with copious quantities of trees and a big sculpture park.

TREES!

TREES!

This sculpture in the park looked like someone... but.. i just can't put my finger on it.... anyone?

This sculpture in the park looked like someone... but.. i just can't put my finger on it.... anyone?

It RAINED every afternoon for five days straight while we were in Siagon.

© Matthew Audley, 2005
You are here : Overview Asia Vietnam Vietnam-Travelogue
The trip
 
Description:
Leaving for bangkok on Sept. 12. Where we go from there is anyone's guess. Hoping to see Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos. Be back in six months or so if everything goes well. There really isn't much of a route planned - we'll see what happens.
Details:
Start of journey: Sep 12, 2005
Duration: 6 months
End of journey: Mar 19, 2006
Travelled countries: Thailand
Canada
Laos
Vietnam
Cambodia
Southeastern Asia
Malaysia
The Author
 
Matthew Audley is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 13 years.
Picture of author