After travelling 13 days, here we are in Vietnam! Our first stop-over in this Country is Ho Chi Minh City, once Saigon.

After leaving the beautiful island of Koh Rong on a very typical boat mostly used by locals, we are back in Sihanoukville, waiting for a sleeper bus to Ho Chi Minh. At least that’s what we thought.

We make ourselves comfortable in the berth, watch a movie, and fall asleep cradled by the swift swerves and horn used as to say hi to every bike along the road. And then: surprise! Some sudden shakes, a “where are you going?” screamed in our ears, just the time to collect our stuff, and at 1a.m. we are sitting on some red stools on the sidewalk along a big street, together with other 20 passengers that, like us, look around disoriented and half asleep. At the time of the booking they accidentally forgot to inform us that the sleeping bus would have taken us only to Phnom Penh and from there we needed to take another bus. Tiny details.

Naively convinced that the wait would be short, two hours later we manage to get on the bus to Ho Chi Minh City, obviously with no berths.

A brief stop at the border for some very superficial baggage checks, and we finally enter into Vietnam!

Ho Chi Minh City welcomes us with its large boulevards, very airy but traffic congested. The city is quite modern and westernized, which may be a negative thing, but at the same time makes us feel a little bit more at home. Our accomodation is in Pham Ngu Lao area, known as the backpackers zone, where every place is tourist-oriented.

As we walk towards the town centre, around Dong Khoi zone, we are amazed by this city.
We cross the “23/9” park covered by flowers for Tet, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year: everywhere sellers place yellow flowered little trees on bikes, challenging physical laws; food trucks and small objects stands attract us, as smiling people do. We are overwhelmed by colours and smells. We pass the Ben Thanh market with its famous clock tower, one of the symbols of the city. Over our heads is the huge skyscraper Bitexco Financial Tower, with its modern shape inspired to a lotus bud. But the true surprise is Nguyen Hue: an elegant boulevard, once a canal, that for Tet is completely decorated with millions of flowers and crowded of Vietnamese people dressed with traditional clothes and absorbed in taking family pictures.
Dazed by lights and colours, we take a turn in a more laid back area: European style buildings (like the theatre and the cathedral of Notre Dame) surprise us and remind us of the elegant Paris. We warm up with a good pho soup and go back to our room.

Tomorrow at 6:30am we are already due to head north, a long journey to Dalat awaits us!

Ho Chi Minh


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