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Published: February 26th 2018
Returning to Vietnam after five years was decided based on our warm memories of the country and its people. The romantic notion of revisiting our path, with some new additions was appealing. So far in our travels we have chosen places never experienced before, and this is our first major reprise of a far-away country. Combined with slowing down, spending more time in a place, we are experiencing not only Saigon with the major tourist sites already off the list, but also with our antennae up for how a slower place feels to us. It sounds good in theory.
We have explored in a different way. Rather more like a sigh, than a rousing “we wanna take on the place!” We sought out the local transit to do what we call a ‘circle route’ to see parts of the city not normally in the tourist circuit (bus #11 is a good choice). We checked out the river fronts, walking a boardwalk we didn’t know existed. The Saigon Opera house production of Teh Dar gave us a chance to get inside the building and see the acrobatic interpretation of the indigenous peoples of Vietnam. The markets were visited repeatedly for people
watching and endless examples of life’s natural drama. And we walked. We met people who sought out conversations with us - notably an Indian couple who are from Mumbai but live here - world travellers with lots of good advice on the route decisions ahead of us.
We arrived at the end of the Tet Lunar New Year celebrations. A lot of city folk leave for their home towns, leaving Ho Chi Minh with less trafffic, fewer businesses open and unusually quiet. Everywhere are yellow flowers, akin to Sakura in Japan, representing apricot trees in blossom. Huge planters with real apricot trees are in many lobbys and on sidewalks, with a circle of fallen petals surrounding them. At the end of the week, we see the denuded trees being hauled on the backs of scooters away for another year.
As for us observing ourselves one week into our 2-month journey, the slower pace isn’t grabbing us. Need some rev‘ing up. We’ll be trading in our open calendars for some hard-core planning and have pulled out a map of the region to look for never-visited spots to add in. First decision is to shift our notion of spending 4-5
weeks in Vietnam down to 2 weeks to catch our two fav spots - Saigon and Hoi An. And that opens a swath of possibilities - Bali perhaps? Has us pumped.
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