Ho Chi Minh
Phew. We had a great few days in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. And then I was done. Ready to escape to the beach. It was quite the sight to see though - everyone says to just go, grab a coffee at a sidewalk cafe and just watch the city move around you, and that is so right.
As soon as leaving the airport terminal you are right in the thick of the wild traffic. Being in the taxi you are relatively protected from the constant horn blasts and army of buzzing motorcycles but it was a good intro of what was to come. The movement of the traffic is both constant chaos and somehow smooth. At first I thought there were not any traffic lights/street signs, but after a few days I realized there actually are some, but whether or not people obey them is a gamble.
As a pedestrian, I would describe it as part game of “Frogger”, and part HIIT workout. We practiced our street crossing skills by following locals, stepping cautiously but assertively into the street of oncoming traffic and inching forward lane by lane through motorbikes and the occasional car while trusting (hoping? praying?) that the drivers would shift around you. Yes, there were crosswalks but I didn’t feel those were much easier, and one night even after looking left, right, left, right x 10 I still was nearly hit by a speeding motorbike who was trailing behind the herd of traffic.
Overall, we had a favorable impression of the city but it felt fatiguing as a newcomer. Lots of fun stores, restaurants and neon lights. I appreciated that we booked a tour outside the city after our first day to catch our breath from running around the city.
When not dodging motorists, we passed the time by time eating delicious street food, visiting the Vietnam war museum, watching people play sports in the park, and other randomness — such as paying this man $0.50 to have him measure my height and weight on his portable scale which simultaneously blasted a rendition of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”: