Good Morning Vietnam

After a 6 hours bus ride from Phnom Penh (including a river crossing by ferry and a hassle free border crossing) we arrived in Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City as it’s called today). The Saigon Zoom Hotel would be our home for the next three days. It was located at the end of the bustling backpacker area with its bars and restaurants. It kind of reminded us of Khao San Road in Bangkok.

In the evening we had a stroll towards the market where we grabbed dinner and watched the sellers trying to sell t-shirts and the like to all the tourists. As always in Vietnam the number of motorcycles was mind blowing and so every street crossing became an adventure by itself (the trick is to walk slowly so that they have enough time to maneuver around you – and don’t panic…).

The next morning Kevin’s stomach didn’t feel too well and so we rested the best part of the day in the hotel room. In the evening we met a former lecturer of Kevin who is Swiss-Vietnamese and moved to Vietnam a few years ago. During a lovely dinner with him and his family he told us the latest about the Vietnamese economy and his ventures. As always it was fantastic to have such a close insight into a country by a local expert.

The next day we finally made it to some sightseeing (we are tourists after all, aren’t we). We first stopped at the Main Post Office, which is hosted in a nice old building to get same stamps (so that we finally were able to send our cards from the Philippines and Cambodia).

After some nice Pho for lunch we visited the Reunification Palace. This palace was the seat of the former South Vietnamese government (or American Puppet Government as they like to call it here) and most of the inside hasn’t been changed since its fall to North Vietnam in 1975. Most of the rooms are nicely decorated in Chinese themes but the highlight are the commando rooms in the cellar. It really looked like in an old James Bond movie with its radio transmitters and detailed maps of Vietnam. Interesting and a bit spooky at the same time.

Later on we visited the War Museum. The museum hosts some impressive exhibitions about the terror and misery of the Vietnam War. Especially shocking were the pictures of the victims of Agent Orange – a pesticide used by the Americans during the war to destroy the jungle were the North Vietnamese Troops were hiding. Still two generations later there are each year children born with deformations because of Agent Orange. The museum really showed how brutal (especially for the civilians) and senseless the Vietnam

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