A Travellerspoint blog

February 2012

A history lesson

Learning about Vietnam’s past in Ho Chi Minh City

sunny 30 °C
View Just a big holiday on ClareAndTom's travel map.

We arrived after dark in Saigon (officially known as Ho Chi Minh City), and the streets around our hotel were buzzing with people eating and drinking outside. We joined them for an al fresco bowl of pho, washed down with some Bia Saigon.

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While having a roadside beer on plastic stools, we were often approached by people selling snacks. This guy had a small BBQ on the back of his bike for cooking dried squid, which he first made paper-thin using a mangle

Our first full day of sightseeing in this city began with a visit to the Reunification Palace, which was home to the South Vietnamese President prior to the fall of the South in 1975. It felt strange wandering around this empty palace, stuck in a 70s timewarp.

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Not all the ornaments in the palace were to our taste

After lunch we went to the War Remnants Museum, which was a sobering experience. Whilst the exhibitions were from the Vietnamese viewpoint, it was still shocking to see and read about the extent to which the country suffered during and after the ‘American’ war. Children are still being born with birth defects due to the use of Agent Orange, documented in a moving collection of images.

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Military vehicles outside the War Remnants Museum

We walked back through the busy streets, much wider than those in Hanoi but still buzzing with thousands of motorbikes. On the way we saw some of the buildings which are the legacy of the French colonial period. Tom was also pleased to discover that Saigon is home to not one but three Fanny Ice Cream parlours, so we had to stop by for a cone.

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Getting street snacks from ladies in their day pyjamas

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The Opera House

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Notre Dame Cathedral

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Inside the main post office

We didn’t get any sightseeing done on our second day in the city, as Tom spent most of it dealing with the bureaucracy of the police reporting his lost phone. However, we did manage to plan the next few days of our trip, heading off into the watery Mekong Delta.

Posted by ClareAndTom 00:48 Archived in Vietnam Comments (1)

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