Ho Chi Minh City — many people still call it by its former name of Saigon — is low, flat and on the edge of the Mekong Delta.
The air is like the air in an indoor swimming pool — warm, humid, wrapping itself around you as you walk. No tart smell of chlorine though — rather the dusty, tart smell of diesel exhaust from buses and smokey two-stroke mixture from the scooters and mopeds that are the main form of transportation here.
Morning sounds like the moments before the start of a Grand Prix race — the accumulated noise of literally thousands of scooters and mopeds builds into one muttering rumble as they pass by.
Everything happens on the sidewalk — vendors sell fruit harvested from the orchards of the delta. Others prepare soup or tea or coffee to sell to morning commuters.