Welcome to a country that’s all hustle and all bustle. The pace here is nothing short of insane, the locals are crazy and the tourists even crazier. I’ve been here now for a week and have squeezed in more hedonism and good times than I thought possible, while also getting a chance to explore the beautiful countryside.
My first destination was Saigon, home to seven million people and five million motorbikes. It’s complete chaos as a city, nothing ever closes and everything is possible. I arrived at 10 in the evening, and when I got out sixty hours later I had managed to sleep for only nine of those. In-between the parties I managed to see the main things to see in the city, namely the two American War-related sights: the War Remnants Museum and the Cu Chi tunnels. History is written by the victor so in this case the Vietnamese are glorious ‘American-killer hero’ peasants and the US soldiers are cast as vicious babykillers.
Neither place is exceptionally interesting, the real draw of Saigon is the city itself. It’s so crowded and hectic and loud and fast. Crossing the boulevards is an act of faith, with motos whizzing by all around you. They’ll swerve around you at the last moment, never slowing down. There are thousands of them. The trick is to walk slow, straight, and to never stop lest you get stuck out there.
I found a breath of fresh air (literally) in the mountain town of Dalat. On the back of a motorcycle I explored the gorgeous countryside, rolling hills covered in pine forests. I was guided around a local tribe’s village, sampled the rice wine (horrible) and visited a silk farm. I never knew that the silk worms were boiled alive, so that was a learning experience. Mostly I just relaxed and enjoyed the amazing Vietnamese coffee. It’s very strong, and so thick you could stick a fork in it. It has a smooth flavor that is unlike any coffee I’ve ever had. I won’t start my day without it now.
From Dalat I headed to the beach to experience the madness that is Nha Trang, but I was pleasantly surprised that it’s actually pretty relaxed compared to Saigon. The city beach is massive and it’s a good place to get some tanning in, hang out with fellow travelers, compare plans and exchange tips, and enjoy the comforts of a big city.
Tomorrow I’m taking a night bus to Hoi An, which is a more traditional, cultural city. It’s also the tailoring capital of South East Asia and I look forward to getting some fine threads made. Time to start traveling in style!
Here are some photos.