Homer's Travels: Southeast Asia 2023 - Days Twenty-Three, Twenty-Four, And Part Of Twenty-Five - Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Monday, November 20, 2023

Southeast Asia 2023 - Days Twenty-Three, Twenty-Four, And Part Of Twenty-Five - Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

UPDATED 12-06-2023: Added photos.

Note: Sorry about the delay in posting the rest of my Southeast Asia posts.  The thirteen hour time difference is resulting in some hellacious jet lag.

Day Twenty-Three (Saturday)

Today was a very full day touring Ho Chi Minh City.  The original name of the city is Saigon and practically everyone calls it that.  We were told by a couple people that 'Ho Chi Minh City' is just too long and Saigon is easier.  The impression I got, especially in the south of Vietnam, is that the memory of Ho Chi Minh is not at the forefront of many Vietnamese minds.

The first stop of the day was a street where medicinal herbs and remedies were sold.  Saigon has a large chinese influence and many of the traditional medicines are chinese.

Spiral incense taking wishes to heaven.
Nearby was a chinese temple once used as a meeting and social club for the Chinese living in Saigon.  In Vietnam's long history, self governance is a very recent development.  The results are cities with an intertwined mix of Buddhist, Tao, Confucian, Chinese, and French cultures.

We explored Chinatown on a cyclo ride through the streets that eventually took us to the wholesale market.  We walked through the market where practically everything you would ever need was sold in bulk.

After a rather sweaty walk through the market we drove over to the Reunification Palace.  The building was once the location of the South Vietnamese government.  The convention that reunited the north with the south was held here.  Now it is a museum ... a time capsule of the mid-70s chic.

Dragon fruit.  Bright and exotic on the outside, a mild pear-like flavor on the inside.
We broke for lunch and were taken to a very nice restaurant where we were fed a multi-course meal similar to the others we enjoyed in Vietnam.  In other words, they gave us too much food.

After lunch we went to the War Remnants museum.  The museum covers the history of the most recent wars in indochina.  The photos and displays are hard to look at and it is hard to tell what is true and what is propaganda.  The museum brings out a lot of mixed feelings in people who visit it.

After the museum we visited the post office located in a French style building across the street from Notre Dame Cathedral.  It was interesting to see the fancy phone booths that lined the entrance.  You felt a lot of history in that building.

When we left the post office our car and driver was surrounded by six traffic cops.  Apparently they thought the car was illegally parked (but not the bus and other cars parked in a similar manner in the vicinity).  We got in the car and then were asked to get out.  Fortunately we weren't far from our hotel so we walked back with our guide.  Our car passed us on the way back ... the cops got the pocket cash they wanted and the driver got to drive away.  Typical corruption.

On the walk back our guide pointed out the building where the famous helicopter evacuation picture was taken.  Most people think it was off the top of the embassy but it's actually from the top of the CIA building.

We passed the opera house which was close to our hotel.  Our guide suggested we could go to the show there on our free day.

At the hotel we took an hour to cool off before walking down the street to a cigar shop to buy cigars for the Wife's brother.  It's become a habit when we travel that we buy him Cuban cigars.  We had to order a couple so we could pick them up the next day.

That night we went out to another very nice restaurant with another multi-course meal.

Day Twenty-Four (Sunday)

This was a free day for us.  We went to Mass at the Notre Dame cathedral and the Wife had some pool time.  I worked on posts and relaxed in our room.

The busy Saigon streets outside the opera house.
That night we went to the AO show at the opera house.  The show is similar to a Cirque Du Soleil with acrobatics and humor that illustrate a story, in this case, Vietnamese folk tales.  It was fun.

Day Twenty-Five (Monday)

The next day we were leaving for Cambodia but we had one stop before we went to the airport.  One of the last US soldiers to die in Vietnam, Lance Corporal Darwin Judge, was from the Wife's home town and was in her brother's high school class.  We bought some flowers and approached the guards at the entrance of the US consulate where there was a memorial.  After waiting fifteen minutes or so we were greeted by consulate security personnel who escorted us to a small garden where the memorials to the dead soldiers were honored.  We were joined by the Deputy Principal Officer, the head of the Marine contingent, and several other higher up representatives.  We were both surprised by the reception.  We'd expected just some bored marine taking us to the memorial and that's it.  It was nice to see the memory of those soldiers being kept alive with the respect they deserve.  The Wife placed her flowers and a letter of thanks at the base of the memorial.

We left out the back door of the consulate compound, met up with our guide, and we drove to the airport to catch our flight to Cambodia.

Photos can be found in my 2023 Vietnam Google Photos album. 

No comments:

Post a Comment