Our first stop in Vietnam was Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City, its official name). For me its name evokes a romanticised image of Asia but in reality it is just a big thriving Asian city with not much going for it in my opinion. I think its one of those cities you need an insider to show you around so you can really discover its hidden gems.
The first initiation test is to cross the road. There are no pedestrian traffic lights and millions of scooters. You just have to step out and walk steadily (no running, no pausing) and weave your way to the other side. My impatient side loved this once i got the hang of it.
Above is one of the many shop houses, where families live and work.
We spent half a day at in the Chinese area, Cholon (which translates to market) where you can buy anything. It was a bit anarchic the way India is and for some reason everyone kept laughing at us! We visited a few beautiful temples in the area which was a beautiful respite from the madness.
This temple reminded me a bit of McDonalds with its red and yellow colour scheme.
Although relaxing, the air was so thick with incense it was hard to breath.
The people of Saigon are really friendly. Mrs Long and her niece from Long Guesthouse couldn't have been more helpful, with great insider tips including a slightly weird blind massage place and the best local Pho stalls. You are always being accosted by charming students eager to practice their English on you. Our favourite was one who had modeled his accent on Simon Cowell after hours of studying You Tube, wierd but authentic!