- home to 9 million people,
- economic engine of Vietnam,
- Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh (HCMC),
- formerly known as Sài Gòn.
At first it did not wow me. It felt like any other big city, almost like Bangkok – except with more motorbikes that ease gridlock. We walked the streets, saw the iconic Bến Thành market, Caravelle Hotel and Notre Dame.
At night, under guidance of a local, we saw the city open up and see how differently the Vietnamese live along the back of a restored antique Vespa, once a status symbol when the country was closed to foreigners. We raced past the lights of buildings, light decorations hung from trees, lights from other vehicles, and traffic lights – no matter if they were green, yellow or even red. The sweltering 40˚C heat of the city disappeared with the sun and the added breeze of racing through the streets.
People gather at restaurants for meals in the evening before they go out. We had some grilled crab, mussels in soup, honey-garlic frog legs, Vietnamese crispy pancake (bánh xèo) and fresh spring rolls. It was all delicious.
Then it was off to a cafe or bar to listen to some live music. Many kinds can be heard off the street, from classic music, to acoustic cafe music, punk rock, and Vietnamese techno. You can find something to your liking in this city.
As I relax back and let my senses take it all in… it really is not that different in Vietnam after all. The Vietnamese people live like we do and seek the same things we do. Self autonomy and freedom from imperialism. Peace and the absence of war. Love. Family. Friends. Health. Good food. The sum of all efforts equals to the vision of a good time and a good life. It is something all humans strive for.
Thanks to Vietnam Vespa Adventures for the great night out and changing our minds about Sàigòn.