Visa on Arrival in Saigon (compared to Hanoi) was a crowded affair.
The lines were long and people had to wait for half-an-hour or more to get their visas processed but it is worth the wait.
After stepping outside, I used Uber for the first time (it was downloaded in my phone for long but I had not used it yet). Proved to be quite handy in a foreign country as the driver knew exactly where to drop us off.
Day 1: Saigon is the most popular city in Vietnam and hosts about 10 million people and 8.5 million motorbikes. It is amazing how everyone is in tune with the traffic and its rules. The infamous Notre Dame Cathedral was under construction but the post office was still very grand with Ho Chi Minh looking down on us.
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The best part about today was walking around the city. Walked about 13 kilometres getting easily distracted by its wondrous sights and sounds. They say it is only when you walk -you get to smell, see and taste the place.
When we got tired, we sat around turtle park and ate the street food. It looked like a favourite hangout for locals, and the youngsters seemed to be enjoying themselves too.
One of the best things about Vietnam is the food in general. There is so much to eat and if you don’t know what to order, you might just miss on the many varieties of food. But when you have local friends, you actually get to eat the best that the city has to offer.
Day 2: Mekong Delta River Run is a popular tourist attraction and I don’t know why we didn’t do this last time around. Probably has to do with the limited time in Ho Chi Minh City but one must get on a boat and ride down the Mekong Delta. It almost feels like you are in some Bond movie cruising down the palm trees with local mafia waiting for you in the other end.
Day 3: The first half was spent at the Cu Chi Tunnels. These tunnels were used by the Vietnamese to fight American soldiers. They have basically perfected the usage of tunnels in guerrilla warfare as the Americans had no idea where these guys were coming and ambushing and killing them. Our guide was a young girl who had just graduated college and was really good with the information she was telling us. I will write more about her when I do a separate post on this experience.
Towards evening we walked in the Nguyen Hue Walking Street near the People’s Committee Building with the Ho Chi Minh statue. It was apparently a canal during colonial times which has now become a pavement and a wonderful public space. Families, couples, friends and travellers all seem to relish the mood of the street with many vendors and street artists doing their own businesses. There is a mixture of both the old and the new as everyone at one point notices the old building where American journalists apparently used to live, and next the high rise building next to it.