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  • Day6

    Saigon Serenade

    December 29, 2019 in Vietnam ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    Started the day with a strong black coffee at Trung Nguyen Legend ' energy coffee' that claims - probably among many - to be the best coffee in the city. This is a great coffee city and it's usually served in a single cup slow drip with a cup full of ice or some hot water if you prefer. Amazing stuff!

    Photos can't really capture the bustling sights and sounds of the city but hopefully I captured some of the iconic images of Ho Chi Minh City.

    I spent the morning taking in the city slowly via cycle rickshaw, the best way to travel if you really want to soak up the city vibes... and fumes from the traffic :-)

    Lots of wide tree lined streets here that expose the cities French influence. Stopped at the War Remnants Museum first and looked aghast at what the USA, Australia and NZ did here during the Vietnam War. But all seems forgiven as you often see Viet and US flags flying side by side here. The US embassy however looks more like a fortress with high spiked walls, bollards and guard houses. The irony of the red hammer and sickle flag flying outside was not lost on me. After all the Viet Cong did win the war(s) despite all the atrocities visited on this country, first by the French, then the Japanese and finally by the USA and her allies.

    Then it was on to a large Pagoda to soak up the more peaceful vibes of the Chinese style Buddhism practiced here. Both the Pagoda and a Temple I visited were packed with praying people and the tourists seemed a little out of place, although ever present. Unlike Temples in Japan they are not really havens of peace in the city, they are actually quite noisy bustling places full of life.

    Catholics make up about 20% of the population thanks to the efforts of French missionaries so there are Chuches and a Cathedral also. Notre Dame Cathedral is more complete than it's namesake these days but also under reconstruction.

    Then it was a classic Banh Mi roll for lunch and back to the hotel to freshen up and escape from the heat of the midday sun.

    Visited the Independence Palace in the afternoon and the park lands around it. Learning lots about Vietnamese history on this trip. Much more complex than I had thought previously, despite growing up during the Vietnam War Era. Also reading a great historically accurate novel by Anthony Grey called Saigon.

    The serenade of the title, if you had not guessed, is the almost musical sound of the traffic, scooters, street vendors and beeps, honks and shouts of the crazy traffic as everyone somehow avoids colliding.
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