Saturday, October 01, 2011

Ho Chi Ho Chi Minh!

"your ho chi minh doesn't look like the ho chi minh i visited."


it was both amusing and ironic that two different people have a totally different experience of the same city.


it was my first time in Saigon (the old name of Ho Chi Minh, aka HCM) to visit a friend in Vietnam and I only had two things in my itinerary, i wanted to have a gustatory and cultural experience of the city. 


Ho Chi Minh City Hall, End of Nguyen Hue, District 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
my friend got me a Saigon City Pass as a gift during my first night in HCM and i spent a better part of the early morning reading the book and knowing more about my host city. with the "tourist" in mind, the book featured attraction, shopping, food, drinks, activities, accommodation and recommended destinations within and around HCM. similar to a lonely planet guide but more thorough with helpful local insider tips for the tourist.


the streets are still lined with huge trees that reach all the way to the skies :)
Supreme Court, HCM
Supreme Court, HCM
what made the city pass unique was that it featured a pull out map of the city where major attractions, shopping, accommodation are plotted and indexed for easy reference. it was just a matter of selecting which places you want to visit and how to get around in the most efficient manner. taxi travel is easy, the drivers are courteous although they don't speak english - then again, the pictures in the City Pass complete with name and address will ensure you never get lost. the pass even features a walking tour that allows you to experience the street culture and see a number of landmarks in the city.


The Opera House, 7 Lam Son Square, District 1, HCM


buildings are usually built tall as lot sizes are often limited by  the government, this creates a unique  design / architectural peculiarity that is unique to HCM
in two days i was able to visit 15 historic, religious, cultural and colonial monuments around the city, not including one day spent doing the mekong delta river tour.


street food? enjoying local delicacies sold on the streets


Reunification Palace, 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, District 1, HCM
and in those three days i've seen the sights, colors, scents of HCM cataloged, sorted and stored as pictures in my photo library. no wonder my friend felt it was a different Saigon from what she experienced.


Saigon Central Post Office, Dong Khoi, District 1, HCM


30-4 Park, Le Duan in front of Reunification Palace, District 1, HCM
this is just my "cultural" experience of an amazing city, the gustatory tour is just as lovely and better explored in another post :)

famous souvenirs from HCM, miniature replicas of famous boats, boats are supposed to be "good luck" in chinese lore when used in feng shui designs
the famous titanic, in miniature
motorcycles are an integral part of HCM commuting. i dare say there are a 100 motorcycles for every car seen on the street
motorcycles in HCM seem to follow a different set of  road rules. just one thing in mind, when crossing the street, don't hesitate, don't pause, just walk ahead - the people will take care of moving around you
street food scene

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