Another chariot ride to the bus station and we’re off. Solid city of street vendors, family businesses, fully loaded kamakazi drivers of every size and smells for the next eight hours.
We finally arrive to Ho Chi Minh and the bus pulls up to a random curb and it’s time to get off. Flagging a taxi is easy but he doesn’t know where our place is. We direct him the last couple kms to a small walking alley, down which I believe our guesthouse, the Globe, is located. Amazingly enough, we get it right the first time.
We are located in what is the party section of the city. Walking down the narrow alley we realize everything is always shared with motorcycles as they pass by, missing us sometimes by the space of the wind, so close. The next three days are spent walking to the nearby sights of the city, getting a taxi when my back gives out. Copaiba to the rescue (Thanks dōTERRA and Simon and Lisa Thomas for introducing me to them). (Shameless plug, FB as Melanie’s Essential Oils and https://www.doterra.com/us/en/site/melanieturp ).
One of the first things we see is the Independence Palace.
The palace is restored to just as it was when South Vietnam fell to the North after America pulled out of the war in 1975. Formerly the South Vietnam Presidential Palace, the war ended 30 April, 1975 when a North Vietnamese tank, number 843, crashed through the gate. The tank is parked out in front by the gate.
The interior from the formal rooms, meeting rooms and the eerie basement full of 1960’s electronics and war maps are supposedly just as the North Vietnamese found them in 1975, at the end of the war.
We wander around a while and check out the Huey helicopter that was the Vietnamese Presidents official helicopter on top of the palace.
Leaving Independence Palace we walk away from the palace, up a beautiful boulevard lined with trees with walking parks on either side. Along the way are large poster/billboards with government propaganda of the past few hundred years of Vietnamese history, which is very interesting starting from 1955.
Reaching the two block end of the boulevard is a large Catholic cathedral, the Sai Gon Notre Dame Basilica, which was closed.
There was a large crowd gathered near there and a demonstration by a circus and dance troupe. It was very interesting watching the dragon dance as they maneuvered the long red and yellow dragon, twisting and turning, up and down, amongst the crowd that had gathered.
Just across the street was a beautiful, French architectural designed yellow building, the Sai Gon Central Post Office. It was constructed in the 19th century while Vietnam was still part of French Indochina. It was constructed from 1886-1891 by Alfred Foulhoux, but often erroneously credited to Gustave Eiffel.
We next headed over to the War Remembrance Museum. This was again very difficult to view and actually be there. We became very emotional several times as we walk the three stories viewing pictures of the atrocities of war. Many pictures were taken by many journalists from many different countries, telling their own story through their pictures. Several pictures were recovered from cameras that we’re the last picture the photojournalist had ever taken, as he himself became another casualty of a terrible war. Here are some pictures I took.
We took our time working our way through and then headed back to our guesthouse. We enjoyed our time in the city like we do most large cities, a little goes a long way.
On Sunday morning we saw a local motorcycle club out for a ride and some much needed relaxation. Please meet “The Ride of Your Life” Vespa motorcycle club.
In the afternoon when the heat subsided, it was almost 95°F(35°C) with high humidity, we would head down to the streets is search of fresh beer (US$0.50), and something to eat from a place on the sidewalk where we could observe the show and talk with people. Australia, UK, Belgium, South Africa and so many more were represented.
As usual, there was the obvious absence of American travelers. We seemed to again be the token American.