Ho Chi Minh City For a Second Time
Although we had visited Ho Chi Minh City when we visited Vietnam in 2014, I didn’t remember too much of it, the reason being that we stayed with Chika’s friend who simply took us around. It was certainly a fun time, but I don’t remember things as much when I am not figuring everything out on my own. Because my field program was the first to disembark the ship upon arrival in Ho Chi Minh City, and we went straight to the airport to fly to Hanoi, I only had the last day to explore a bit of the city. And after several days of travel and somewhat difficult hiking, I decided to take the day to relax and just wander the city.
Ho Chi Minh City, formerly called Saigon, is a very cosmopolitan city. Whereas Hanoi has been a city for over 1,000 years, HCMC has been around for a mere 400 years or so. Hanoi seems to have that classic Vietnam feel, whereas HCMC has a more western city feel with high rise buildings, more international restaurants and fast food chains, larger streets, and stores like Louis Vuitton and Chanel.
The ship was docked on the south side of the city center, so it was just a 20-30 minute walk to the heart of the city. I started with breakfast at a street stand, ordering a banh mi sandwich with a Ca Phe Sua Da (Iced coffee with milk). From there, I found a café called Highlands Coffee, who happens to have a logo very similar to Starbucks, and I used wifi there to call my parents and also video with Chad, Kendra, and Beckett. I then started my wandering, walking through the Benh Thanh market, then to the Reunification Palace where the north Vietnamese tank came crashing through its gate, ending the Vietnam War. I then walked to the Cathedral, into the Post Office (which was designed by Gustave Eiffel), through a book market, past the Opera, and to a restaurant serving Hue food, a city in central Vietnam. From there, I found a much needed massage, paying just $11 for a 70 minute massage. I then wandered around a bit more, stopping for another coffee, and finally making my way back to the ship.
I considered visiting a museum, but being pretty tired, I decided to simply explore by wandering. It was nice to revisit HCMC and to try some more foods and coffee there.
Vietnam has so much to offer, including nice beaches, some of the world’s largest caves, trekking up north in Sa Pa, boat trips to Halong Bay, discovering Hanoi, shopping in Hoi An, and more. While we did much of this our last trip, there is actually still more that I would like to visit. I’m not sure if I will come back to Vietnam again, as there are many other places I’d rather go first. However, I would not be disappointed if I did come back!