The Wonderful City Saigon, Ho Chi Minh

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After another long journey on a coach and and a breeze of a border crossing compared to our crossing in Cambodia we arrived in the city of Saigon, now I know its now called Ho Chi Minh city now but the locals still affectionately call it Saigion so I will do the same. My first impression was that it was very much different than Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, it was much cleaner and seemed much more organised. We arrived at hotel about an hour after crossing the border and as we were approached we were all taken aback, not from the sight of our hotel which I must add was very nice indeed, but the sight of the centre of town itself, it was especially spectacular arriving at night with all the tall hotels illuminating the skyline, the streams of neon lights absoultly stunning. We checked in and was shown to our beautiful room on the ninth floor, then headed for the rooftop bar to discuss the itinerary for the next day.
Now in our lonely planet guide there was a city walk which it was recommended to do which takes in a lot of the city’s attractions, the guide stated that it should take about three hours, but quite how they worked this out I will never know unless they just did the walk without seeing and exploring any off the attractions as it took us nearly two days, with coffee breaks, and lunch breaks, nonetheless by following the walk it was a great way to explore the city.
We meandered through the streets soaking up the sights and sounds and the sheer vibrance off the city a truly wonderful place. One thing I must mention is that Vietnam is a communist country which is in my opinion supposed to mean everyone is equal, well I’m not politically minded at all but I can tell you it certainly does not work in Saigon, there were more very upmarket designer shops in one place than in my own city of London also the amount of high end cars on the roads like Bentley’s, Porche’s, Range Rovers was amazing, yet by the same token their were many people selling whatever they could on street corners just to get by. So in my opinion “Communism just doesn’t work”.
Now back to the sightseeing, the sights you should see if you visit Saigon are and in no particular order the Old Post Office, a magnificent building built by the french architect Gustav Eiffel who is probably most famously know for designing the Eiffel Tower, it is pretty much as it was when it was built and it still is a working post office. Next which is right opposite is Notre Dame Cathedral, it was established by the French colonists in about 1863 and is a smaller version of the one in Paris. Unfortunatly for us it was closed when we arrived and did not open until later in the day, so we did not have the chance to see inside, so check your times. Next which is a short walk across a nice park which incidently is a great place to get some well needed shade from the sweltering heat, is The Reunification Palace it is a large imposing building built in the sixties and in my opinion not a particularly attractive building but its the history surrounding it which is it’s main attraction, it was formerly known as the Independence Palace, built on the site of the former Norodom Palace. It was designed by architect Ngô Viết Thụ and was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It is probably most famously marking the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates, and the last American helicopter left Saigon. Admission is 30000 dong which is £1 and also includes a free guided tour, excellent value for money. There are many other sights to see on the walk various landmarks, the impressive opera house and the walk finishing up at Shri which is a rooftop bar and restaurant with magnificent views over the city, a very nice way to end our walk and our day.
On our our last morning in Saigon I suggested to the girls that we visit the War Remnants Museum, now this did not seem to go down to well but I managed to swing it by saying we can visit the Ben Than market on the way back.
The War Remnants museum was once know as the Chinese and American war crimes museum, and it is probably the most popular museum visited by western tourists. The museum is spread over four floors and consists of 100’s of images and artifacts from the Vietnam war it is an interesting point to note that many of the most disturbing images of US attrocities are from US sources including the infamouse My Lai massacre. Whilst in my opinion the museum is a must see if you are in Saigon, but a word of warning it is a sobering place to visit, and a lot of the images are quite shocking the girls came away in tears.
Next stop Hoi An for a bit rest and recuperation.

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