Again, new country, what’s the fuss? I got in to Ho Chi Minh City today, was looking at the map on the way into town (in that kinda anal way outdoors people do), then the bus man said, yeh you’re hotel’s back there, but we’re stopping just up here. 5 mins later after almost ignoring the guy touting a guesthouse (he was touting mine but I was wary of that scam of having three of the same guesthouse names on the same street), he walked me to the door, and within 10 minutes of getting off, I was checked into my room, admiring the hustle and bustle of a new city.
HCMC (as I’ll now call it – saves typing) is the most bustling city I’ve been to in SE Asia so far. Bustling, busy (some may say frantic) and alive. Crossing the road – no big deal, just look at the 1 billion oncoming scooters and stride confidently (but slowly) across the road. I’ve been walking around here like I’m walking on clouds – new city, new buzz. I rapdily overcame that new ‘fear’ of entering a new country. Like Cambodia, everyone warns…’oooh, you started in Laos, you may not like Vietnam’. Everything’s here, and all withing spitting distance.
Knock off DVDs and CD’s, great arts and handicrafts, camera shops willing to open your camera to see if they can fix it, tourist tat, moto drivers wanting to sell you anything, girls wanting to do the same (although I’m oblivious to this), and young teenagers walking around with a selection of the best ‘reproduction’ books. There’s sports shops, and even an electronics emporium that would blow some of Bangkok’s best out of the window. I can’t remember seeing a couple of hundred large screen plasmas, umpteen mobile phones, cameras and video camera on the same floor before.
I sat down at a very touristy restaurant, ordered up a Vietnamese dish, then sat there delighted by the vibe, and the fantastic selection of classic tunes ringing in my ear, every track saying to me ‘oh shit, who sang that one again?’. I started speaking to the waiters, who asked about Scotland, and my thoughts on Vietnam. I wish I had a copy of Culture Shock! Vietnam when the one of the waiters said ‘You have a nice body, do you go to the gym each day?’. He was only about 20 and I wasn’t sure if this was normal behaviour….
Yes, Vietnam will be way too rushed. In seventeen days I have to fly to Bangkok. I always get the rose tinted glasses in a new big city as well, but what a buzz.
Good Morning Vietnam! (I’ve been waiting to be able to say that!). Country number 36.