09/03/2013 - 13/03/2013 33 °C
Another boarder crossing and I was onto country number 7, Vietnam. I was given a leaving gift from Cambodia when the boarder security guard chose not to fine me $20 for overstaying my visa. My Vietnam visa was pre-arranged in Cambodia so it was a relatively quick and easy jump into a new country and culture that I had to get to grips with.
For me, and certainly most other people I've met, the biggest shock is the amount of motorbikes on the roads and the bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh required almost 360 degree vision in order to avoid getting run over. Being so used to SE Asia I no longer think to take photos of the 'ordinary', such as the busy, sensory overload tangle of little streets all over HCM. This is odd really as it's generally more interesting than another photo of a temple or skyscraper....I'll get that rectified as it's the different street level experiences that really characterise the countries I'm visiting.
Anyway, HCM offers the usual spread of offerings found in many Asian cities - temples, museums, markets, parks. Same same but different. The War Remnants museum was certainly a worthy visit. Although far from informative of the causes, events and outcome of the Vietnamese war, the photograph exhibits captured the horror and destruction from the perspective of the locals, Americans and war photographers.
In a museum about the man Ho Chi Minh I was pressured by a group of university students to sing a song, completely on my own, in Vietnamese. I have no idea what the lyrics meant and hope to dear God that no recording of this incident exists.
Little parks are dotted across the city. Well maintained and a welcome break from the noise and congestion.
French colonial history is evident in the architecture as well as this replica of Notre Dame.
In HCM I was joined by an old travel buddy and we planned a 3 week journey taking us north to Ha Noi, with stops at the most popular towns and cities along the way.