For whatever reason, I got almost absolutly no sleep last night. It had probably something to do with all the episodes of Scrubs I watched on the TV (I heart Rupert Murdoch’s networks).
In the morning, I had breakfast at the hotel and then went to the airport to pick up Ami. The taxi driver was a friendly guy who kept trying to sell me more rides (“yes, I can give you tour of Ho Chi Minh City tomorrow!” and “here is my name-card, call me tomorrow!”). After waiting the sweltering heat for her to clear customs/etc, we made it to the Hotel Magestic right in the middle of district one.
We settled down and set off on a walking tour of the buildings in the area, including the colonial style “Hotel d’Ville” among others. All along the streets are vendors who are selling all sorts of tasty-looking things. I’m still a bit fearful of getting sick, so I’m going to wait a day or two to build up my courage to pick up a sandwich or other treat off of a street (vendor).
HCMC is a nice, quaint little town where you can really feel the “soul” of the city. It’s not as fast paced as say Shanghai (but then again, what is?), but you feel like there are people living and having normal lives all around you and I felt much more of them then the bustling Vietnamese economy. There were people squatting playing card games, folks taking naps in the blistering heat next to their soda cart, women moving their food carts across the crazy traffic.
Speaking of traffic, this place is nuts. There are about a billion (if not more) motorcycles criss-crossing the streets in a never ending traffic jam of epic proportions. It makes Xujiahui look tame! There are almost no foot powered bicycles, they’re all gas powered and it seems like most are made by Honda. Crossing the street at rush hour is pretty much a game of chicken: you walk on to the road and force the car/bus/motorcycle/etc to dodge you. If you fear them, they’ll own you.
Our dinner was a little resturant in the backpacker’s part of town, a vegetarian resturant where I had a “Mexican Burrito.” It was hardly Mexican, but it was still pretty good (total cost 2 entrees, plus 2 drinks: 49,000 VND, or about 3.5 USD). Every store, salon, shop and resturant has a sign up “Room for Rent” in the area, regardless of what the store front is doing, they’ll all be hotels if you have some money. The whole part of town is geared to the backpacker.
We cruised thru the area some more and bought tickets to go see Co Coi (sic?), the tunnels of the Vietcong tomorrow. It’s a 1/2 day trip (2 hours in a bus each way, 4 USD per person) and should prove to be pretty interesting. We’ll probably spend the afternoon tomorrow checking out some of the sights we missed (including the War Museum, I think it’s called). I also need to arrange some transportation to Cambodia for the day after, as we have to be in Phonm Penh on Sunday.