It’s not easy to summarize the emotions felt during the journey in Vietnam, but to start I want to talk of its colors.
Green: characterizes rice fields, parks, forests and the nature that rises from its ashes. Where once there were trees burned by napalm today there is a thick vegetation with colorful flowers. There is new life.
White: of the clouds that fast, soft, disturbs the blue sky, modifies the light for create rays that illuminate brief moments of daily life.
Red as the flag of Vietnam: waving everywhere to remind the world that this country is opening up to other people with renewed enthusiasm.
Our itinerary explored the major destinations of the southern part of the country and, after elevenhour flight, Ho Chi Minh City has appeared as a huge expanse of lights in the dark of night. The streets, colored by the perpetual motion of millions of scooters, looked like two huge snakes, one red and one white. We were immediately thrown in the city that never sleeps. Streets, houses, parks, shops were animated by a thousand smiles, a thousand thoughts and activities. We were part of it and therefore we had to get used to its rhythms.
Our hotel, Sunland Saigon Riverside, was located in District 1, near a tributary of the Saigon River, in a position from which you could walk to the main attractions of the city. Our room was spacious, clean and had a window with a view. The hotel also had a gym, a pool and restaurant on the roof, but we used the second of these, which was stormed by the families, and the third where the food was good but the service at the table was a bit ‘slow. The structure it’s used by many Westerners so the breakfast is continental but you could also enjoy typical dishes of the Asian tradition. Thanks to its strategic position the hotel is the ideal base for all our walks to discover the surroundings.
Ho Chi Minh City should be lived at full speed: here the past and the future, poverty and nobility live at close range.
In fact you can find clean streets with skyscrapers and trendy shops, side by side with narrow and dirty streets. These, in the morning, are transformed into markets where you can find frogs, fresh fish, meats and exotic fruits such as durian, while in the evening are populated by small restaurants where families come together, sit on small chairs, and they have dinner with typical soup: the Pho.
The road is life in Ho Chi Minh City, in fact, they all move on noisy scooters, taxis, rickshaws, buses and cars; and they eat in the street because the sidewalks are transformed into places of aggregation and, at times, they sleep in the street!
We saw bikers of all ages who, parked the scooter on the sidewalk, had fell asleep from exhaustion. Other people stopped just to look at the traffic flow that incessant and noisy at all hours of the day, continued undaunted.
I can’t find words to describe the traffic of the old Saigon: teeming and chaotic.
There are no rules, it is an ordered chaos that runs and flows without end.
I have often wondered where they were going because every hour, even at night, the hum of the motors was strong.
Furthermore, there are very few pedestrian traffic lights.
Because of this situation cross the street in Ho Chi Minh City becomes a metaphor of life: you have to take a deep breath and launch yourself into the fray.
Walking always straight toward the sidewalk, toward your goal.
They will touch you, they will hit you, but you must get up and go ahead. You must prove that you are strong and that you want to arrive to the sidewalk.
Dented or not, you have to get there and, when it happens …. then you feel invincible.
In the next article I’ll talk about how to survive in Ho Chi Minh City and some of the major attractions of the city