Saigon…busy, hectic, noisy, humid. And wet. As I sit in our room drinking a Saigon Special Lager the rain pours down outside, the drips in tune with the continual beep, beep of the motorbikes. We have a quiet room, in a small guesthouse off a back lane that only bikes can fit down. But still the beeps of bikes make it in. We were woken this morning around 6am to the loud speaker voice of the bread bike. “Banh, Banh”. It bought back memories of living in Indonesia…”Roti, roti..Selamat Pagi Jacob, Selamat Pagi Sally.”
Ms Yang’s Homestay
We are in District 3. A good choice it seems. Walking distance into the city. We headed off quite early after an interesting breakfast prepared by Ms Yang, of pasta omelette, chili sauce and Vietnamese coffee. Before long we were confidently crossing the Saigon streets with their flexible and optional road rules. I think driving in Indonesia prepares one for anything. Pedestrians must be aware of not only uneven pavings and gaping holes but also the fact that the bikes often use the footpath for speedy shortcuts. You learn to pay attention, be mindful and listen behind at all times.
Bikes and power lines
We found our way to Ben Thanh Market, which like most markets in Asian cities is full of duplicate stalls competing for your Dong. I purchased an, arguably overpriced, sports T Shirt from a couple of nice ladies. I did barter quite well but went in completely cold and naive, having no idea what is the expected price nor even how much the Dong is worth. Anyway, it is all part of the journey.
Lizards and cobras in alcohol…because you can!
Back to Ms Yang’s for a brief respite, such is the benefits of staying centrally. Then a quick Pho on the street on the way to the War Remnants Museum. This was a sobering affair. Very difficult viewing.But I remind myself that in viewing this material and remembering the atrocities we can perhaps work to prevent these circumstances happening again. I realise the hopelessness of this statement as I write it but what else is one to think. More on my thoughts of this in a blog under ideas.
Jeremy caught a taxi back early. He unfortunately has caught a bug. Perhaps too much travel, he was in Taiwan just over a week ago. He sleeps now while I type and drink beer! Bravely, I decided to stay at the museum and make my own way back. This proved to be a wise decision. To wander the streets of a city such as Saigon alone is an empowering experience. I chatted to motorbike taxi drivers and the chaps who guard the bike parking as I got a little bit lost and then found again. It is quite easy to navigate through Saigon. The streets are clearly named and the map proves accurate. I feel a sense of satisfaction as I spy the flower shop. I know now where I am. I am in Asia. I feel at home.
Ms Yang’s Homestay