Published: June 2nd 2009May 11th 2009
Saigon was officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City in 1975 when the North Vietnamese took the city and reunified Vietnam. Almost everyone still refers to it as Saigon, however. It is not the capital, but is the largest city and the commercial capital of Vietnam. Coming from Cambodia, I was shocked by how clean and modern it was. My image of Saigon came from Vietnam movies. It no longer looks like Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket version.
They say there are over 10 million motorbikes in Saigon (more than the population). I can believe it. In any direction, it looks like a motorbike army attacking. I did not rent a bike here. The traffic is the craziest I have seen yet. There are almost not traffic lights; the intersections are just every man for himself. I am not sure how, but it somehow works.
Crossing the street is interesting here. You walk slowly even though there are hundreds of machines hurdling toward you. By walking slow, the bikes just flow on both sides of you. You have to completely trust that everyone is paying attention. That faith is difficult when you see four people on one bike and
the driver is talking on a cell phone.
Got really sick for four days in Saigon. Fortunately/unfortunately there was a two day American Idol marathon on TV and I somehow got totally sucked in. I hated losing that time and didn't get to explore Saigon as thoroughly as I would have liked. I did see most of the major sights including the War Remnants Museum which used to be called the Museum of American War Crimes. The name changed but the evidence of what the US did to this country is plentiful and on display. It is beyond enfuriating to know that we have not learned anything.
There are more photos below