9 April 2015

Ho-Chi-Minh-City or Saigon?

Pho rolls
To be honest from the beginning: we haven't found a definitive answer to the question raised in the title. While Ho-Chi-Minh-City is the official name since the revolution/unification, most locals and at least Southern Vietnamese prefer to call it Saigon, also among each other.

We arrived in Saigon on the second of January and for once the bus was almost as fast as promised. A good start. Also, the bus dropped us less than 500 meters walk away from our hotel, in the middle of the busy Hong Bang district. We had booked a hotel in advance as this had proved to be the best strategy in Vietnam. And this time was no different. Our room was on the fifth floor with no elevator, but this helps us keeping fit and in shape despite the delicious Vietnamese food. Also, the higher up means more light, a better view and, last but not least, less noise. To call our home for the next five days a room would be quite deceptive. For 20 USD (16 EUR) per night we got a spacious apartment with a huge bed, a couch, a dining table and even a bathtub.

Cu-Chi tunnels
Pleased with our choice, we set out to get to know the neighborhood. We quickly felt at home and enjoyed a fantastic lunch of Pho and Pho rolls (like fresh spring rolls, but with Pho noodle dough as a wrapper) with handmade and colorful noodles. In the evening we met our British ladies again for dinner. We went to a vegan restaurant and afterwards to one of the cozy street bars while exchanging our stories from the week we spent apart. Apparently none of us was very good at handling Vietnamese alcohol on New Years Eve.

Despite all the traffic, noise and rush, we loved Saigon. It's definitely not a beautiful place, but hardly any place in Vietnam was, to be honest. Vietnam is a country we won't visit for sights in the future, but for it's amazing food, fruit juices and
Our appartment in Saigon
for shopping. Yeah, you heard right. Already in Hoi An, we heard about the cheap prices and the quality of Vietnamese tailoring. In Saigon we finally decided to give it a shot. As we'll be both looking for jobs again back in Switzerland in July 2015, Lisa decided to have a woman's business suit tailored. Pants, skirt, blazer and shirt. As I already have two suits at home, I decided to only get shirts, but four of them. We bargained hard for a good price and it took us a lot of patience and explaining until our clothes were the way we wanted them. In the end, we paid about 200 USD (160 EUR) for all, including shipping to Switzerland.

Apart from our regular visits to the tailor and our explorations of great restaurants, the only truly touristy trip we did in Saigon was a half-day trip to the Cu-Chi tunnels. The tunnels played an important part in the fight of the Vietcong rebels against
Downtown Saigon
the US-backed Southern Vietnamese government during the Vietnam war. The tours and tunnels are very touristy, but a good insight into the Vietnamese side of the story. We especially enjoyed crawling through the tunnels and the Vietcong propaganda movie at the end of the tour.

After three weeks, it was time to say goodbye to Vietnam and hello to the Philippines. We know we'll be back, as we're now both addicted to Pho and Vietnamese spring rolls!
More pictures from Saigon/Ho-Chi-Minh-City

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