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Au Revoir, Toum Teav & Hello, Ho Chi Minh

semi-overcast 33 °C

March 22, 2018
Our last morning on the boat. Breakfast was a bit sombre as we ate our last meal together as a group. We packed up our rooms, paid our bar bill and left our tips for the crew and guides.

Crossing through the Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city) port was really interesting with huge container ships, some cruise liners and freighters. One member of our party very much enjoyed all the heavy ships and equipment - I'll let you guess who.
IMG_7906.jpg IMG_7898.jpg

We disembarked at 11 am, said our goodbyes, and walked into HCMC.

We took a cab to our hotel, and he stopped in front of a narrow alley way and indicated we would have to walk down it to find our hotel. Once inside the inner street, it's a street (or more like another city) within a street, with hundreds of little shops and stands and tables selling everything you could need or imagine. Rooms to rent, laundry, coffee, pho, tours, massage, nail salon, all within literally 10 metres of the entrance of our hotel. 90_IMG_8060.jpg
The hotels and guesthouses are narrow and extremely tall to make the maximum use of space. 90_IMG_7968.jpg
When we walked in to our hotel, Diep Anh Guesthouse, we were greeted by a small elderly Vietnamese man who introduced himself as Diep Anh, in excellent English. His whole family (wife, son, daughter, and grandbaby) were there as well helping run the place. He wore two pairs of glasses, layered, I suppose as improvised bifocals. It was very endearing.
90_IMG_7944.jpg Animated and friendly, Anh sat us down and walked us through a map with the top tourism sites which all were luckily within walking distance. He pointed out some good places for food and the approximate cost of some of the services and tours. He showed us the room, 5th floor (85 stairs, blarg) but good views and quiet. His friendly and informative introduction is clearly the reason for the high TripAdvisor scores. It was a great and warm welcome to Ho Chi Minh city.
We spent the balance of the day exploring the city on foot. Since the hotel is in the downtown, or District 1, we can cover all the main areas without calling a cab. There are no tuktuks here. Though they do have Uber car and Uber motorbike, and Grab, where you can ride on the back of a motorbike and it's super cheap.
The traffic here is phenomenal, which we expected. 180_IMG_7972.jpg
Ho Chi Minh city is about the same size as Bangkok with between 8 and 10 million people. Different sources seem to disagree on the actual population. It's a lot, anyway. It's also very clean compared to all cities we've visited so far (Hong Kong being the one exception). The French influence is apparent in the architecture, landscaping, and food, at least in the tourist district and older areas.
I'm pleased to say that I'm really enjoying the city. I don't generally expect to love the big cities on long trips - and usually just use them as jumping off points. But I'm happy we have 3 days to explore HCMC.

Posted by Casualodyssey 03:21 Archived in Vietnam Tagged traffic travel city vietnam busy big trip asia saigon chi ho minh hcmc population

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