Chaotic, in a good way if that’s possible. There is so much energy in Ho Chi Minh City that just taking a stroll down the sidewalk is exciting and death defying the way the motorbikes cut street corners by using the sidewalks.
Organized and clean, obviously this is relative, but for a developing nation I was very impressed with the Visa process upon landing, the simple customs procedures and spotless airport. Even early this morning the cleaning crew seemed to be out in force picking up trash and sweeping the already busy streets.
Corrupt, true to form the developing world always seems to greet their tourists, which are often a huge source of their income I might add, with a quick police pull-over just to ask for money. A little déjà vu from Africa, but no money was actually exchanged. We both felt that had the cab driver not insisted in driving us around in circles this would not have happened.
Communist, this really isn’t a first impression, but rather a fact, however I was reminded immediately with many red banners all over the city with the communist hammer and sickle prominently displayed.
Lost in translation, this is true in many ways, first from the standpoint that very few Vietnamese speak English, not that it is my expectation, it just seems you always find a few locals in each new place that do. Secondly, really because of the first of many things that just aren’t translated correctly. For example our Bed and Breakfast does not provide breakfast.
Delicious food, I was expecting this, but anytime you get your expectations too high you have to prepare yourself for a let-down, not so in Ho Chi Minh City. Our first meal at a total of $2.50 (for both of us) were tasty noodles in a rich broth with fresh vegetables. Our second meal of pho, which is a rice noodle soup served with beef or chicken and typically a large garnish plate of chili peppers lime, basil, lemon grass, etc., was equally amazing and very spicy for Matt. The fruit is also very good, lychees are some of my favorite, see below.