Sunday, May 09, 2010

saigon, if you prefer

i have been in vietnam for two days and already i have seen more motorbikes in those two days than i have seen in all my 29 years put together.  and somehow, i have managed not to get hit by one, even when crossing eight lanes of traffic.  and how do i remember that there were eight lanes of traffic?  i thought to myself, 'pay attention to how many lanes you are in the middle of right now, because i have no other idea how to describe the craziness of crossing this street but by describing the number of lanes for perspective.'  or something like that.

my first thoughts on ho chi minh city?  why did they decide to rename the city hcmc and then continue to call everything in it saigon?!  my second thoughts were that the vietnamese people i met seemed really considerate and helpful.  apart from the taxi driver that ripped me off at the airport...  i am not sure that i wasn't expecting this, but it was just nice that people smiled back when you smiled at them.

an aside, i am really thirsty right now so i am having a coke out of the mini bar in my hotel and how on earth do people drink this stuff regularly when your teeth get so damn fuzzy and sticky??

back to my thoughts on ho chi minh city (or saigon, if you prefer).  this place is a shoppers dream.  if you are a shopper who loves clothes, like me.  and a shopper who loves knock offs, not so like me, but i can be tempted.  i was contemplating a pair of pink shorts (because who needs a pair of pink shorts?) when i did the calculation on my iphone and realised that they were $15 so instead of wondering about the pink pair, i picked up a purple pair too.  you just never know when you are going to need a pair of purple shorts.

and speaking of money, i am constantly bewildered with the denomination of the currency, the dong.  today i spent 1 million dong in one store and that came to about $50.  i have almost overpaid people after bargaining them down, had to whip out my phone during the bargaining process to figure out what 450,000 dong is worth in dollars, and have given someone a bill equalling $.25 for payment of something much more expensive.

now if you find yourself in ho chi minh city (or saigon, if you prefer), i must wholeheartedly recommend staying at the indochine hotel.  the room was pretty plain, the lighting was awful, and i had a view of a dillapitated building, but the service was so fantastic that i would stay there again in a heartbeat.  the best part was that it was entirely central and after two days, i felt as though i had the chance to see everything that i wanted to see and they had free and fast wifi.

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