Sunday, December 31, 2006

First Day in Ho Chi Minh City aka Saigon

Sorry no pictures, or even any links yet. But here are some first impressions:

Arriving at night the city is balmy and buzzing with motorcycles, scooters and people everywhere. But there is a calm purposefulness about it all. Everyone we meet is polite and soft-spoken.

First day after a breakfast of pho with a view overlooking the Saigon river, we walk from the Hotel Majestic to the Ben Thanh market. Crossing the street to enter is a harrowing experience! You can't wait for traffic to die down because it never does. You just have to plow ahead in an act of utter faith or stupidity.

The market is crammed with stalls and vendors selling everything from clothes and shoes,"madam, madam, I have your size!" to bars with just one specialty--bun noodles or banh mi or something else. Glasses of exotic looking colored drinks have noodles and polka dots and who-knows-what floating or sinking in them, all day glow colors. Tons of beautiful fresh fish and enormous prawns and lobsters, mostly live and thrashing about, I actually saw what looked like a catfish getting away (!) I've taken tons of pictures and hope to get them up soon, I'm sure the folks there thought I was crazy for taking pictures of bowls of rice but there they were like bulk bins at a supermarket but all rice, maybe 15 different kinds of white rice. It is truly a different and fascinating world.

Happy New Year from Saigon!