I'm still only in Saigon.
Whatchu talkin' bout, Willard? I'm loving it here.
I flew from Bangkok to Hanoi, right back where I started out more than three months ago. A couple of Israeli boys and I pile into taxi, and since I am a Vietnam veteran of sorts and they know absolutely nothing about Vietnam they look to me for advice. "Thit cho
is dog meat, seek or avoid accordingly" and "they drive kinda crazy here" are the only pearls of wisdom I can think of. The Israelis assure me that they can handle crazy traffic, because Israelis drive a lot crazier than us lame Americans. A couple minutes into the ride I hear them start gasping what I imagine is the Hebrew equivalent of "Oh my God, we're all gonna die!". Oh, Vietnam. I've missed you.
After only a couple conscious hours in Hanoi I beelined it down south. When I was twelve years old I thought that: Twenty twenty twenty four hours to go
I wanna be sedated
Nothing to do, nowhere to go-oh
I wanna be sedated
was the greatest thing ever written in the English language. Now
at the age of 20 I'm not entirely convinced it isn't the greatest thing ever written in the English language. I don't know, try spending more than 24 consecutive hours on a second class Vietnamese train and get back to me. Although I must say it was rather painless thanks to sweet lady Dramamine and I made it to Nha Trang feeling pretty good.
Nha Trang and I tend to bring out the worst in each other. During my first hour in Nha Trang I manage to get into an intense fight with a motobike driver over 5,000 dong, continue to ignore the fact that I am long overdue for a shower, attack a fellow tourist that was walking down the street with a can of Dr. Pepper and demand to know where he purchased it. He was pretty understanding because he knows they put crack in it. After I got my fix I realized that Asia had finally made me crazy and I needed to regain my sanity before I went home, so I headed up to Paradise Resort at Doc Let beach, which is close to Nha Trang and yet so far away. There is nothing to
do but swim, sleep, go to the beach, read, drink beer, talk about that one section of "road" an hour or two outside of Inle Lake, and play cards. I spent a very lazy but very enjoyable week there.
I finally managed to pull myself away from the beach and get to Ho Chi Minh City, aka Saigon. After Saigon fell, excuse me, was liberated back in 1975 the communists changed the name to Ho Chi Minh City, however people usually don't appreciate it when you change the name of their hometown so it is still refered to as Saigon in many instances. The urban districts of Ho Chi Minh City are still technically Saigon, but if you're talking to a government official you should probably use Ho Chi Minh City. Anyways, HCMC is the largest city in Vietnam with a population of 6 million people (but I think its at least double that) and everyone has a motorbike, thus making street crossing something of an extreme sport.
I've heard stories of tourists that pay motorbike drivers just to take them across the street.
I met a guy in Cambodia who said that the sole purpose of
crosswalks in Vietnam is to provide contrast so human roadkill is more obvious to the clean-up crew. Pretty much.
I didn't have a whole lot on my to-do list for HCMC, I just wanted to hang around and enjoy my last couple days in Asia. First thing I did was get out of the heat and to the Saigon Water Park, which isn't as good as the waterparks we have in the US but I would say its a good effort considering the Vietnamese GDP and all that. The girls swim fully clothed and some wore heavy denim jackets in the pool so as to avoid the dreaded suntan. Crazy.
Then I went to the War Remnants Museum, formerly known as the Museum of Chinese and American War Crimes. Its about as Fair and Balanced as Fox News with heartbreakingly graphic pictures of napalm burns, Agent Orange deformities, and grinning American soldiers over mutilated Vietnamese bodies, but absolutely no mention of the North Vietnamese invading the South. The North Vietnamese are painted as saints and the Americans are the aggressors, but hey, its their museum and in their defense they do have an exhibit showing protests in the
US against the Vietnam war and the Kent State incident and all that, so not ALL Americans are evil bloodthirsty demons as some of the more idiotic rants in the comment book would have you believe. Christy, you're right- the comments are as disturbing as the museum.
Later I met up with fellow travelblogger Rooj
who has been living and teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City for the last couple of months and loving it. We went to a great bia hoi place, good times ensued.
This is the end... my only friend, the end. Tonight I take the red-eye to Tokyo and then head back home. I'm furious because there is no way I've been here for 4 months, I'd say its been more like 5 minutes. How am I going to explain all this to you guys? But maybe its time for me to go home...
So if I don't become a grease mark on the street walking back to the hotel and if my planes make it back intact I'll consider this trip a success. Everyone who thought I was going to die/get blown up by a landmine/become a victim of human trafficking/come
home crying after 3 days: you lose. But I forgive you. I'll see you soon.
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