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Kate’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 09 Dec 2008

Location: Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam

MapI will never complain about Sydney traffic again. Still in disbelief that I didn't die crossing the road. HCMC is intense in every way, very full on for the senses. So many funny (often unpleasant) smells and sounds, incessant traffic noise and horn beeping, unbelievable numbers of people. I've never had a more interesting taxi ride than the one back from the airport yesterday. I'd forgotten how hard it is to process everything when it is all foreign. I'll know in future not to scrimp on a few dollars when offered a hotel pick up from the airport - I think it eventually cost me about the same amount and was a whole lot more work.

On the flight over I experienced the oft-mentioned disregard for personal space that the Vietnamese people had. My neighbour and I had about equal skills in Vietnamese/English which made for a very stilted conversation. She would regularly lean right across me to look out the window, sticking her hand on my upper thigh, or elbow me while arranging her things. Lucky I'm not too uptight about these things.

This morning, with my body clock on Australian time, I woke at 3.30am despite not having much sleep. At daybreak (about 6am) I annoyed the hotel owner/attendant who sleeps on the ground floor on a basic mattress, asking him to open the door to allow me out. I'm glad I went out so early - it wasn't too hot and was slightly less busy. Thousands of people were already out and about by this time, with many of them exercising in group tai chi and aerobics classes in the public parks, or playing badminton. Apparently white is the colour of choice for Vietnamese to exercise in. I was clearly an oddity, and got many strange looks as I walked the streets. I know I paid too much for a cyclo tour and coffee, but was too tired to bother bargaining.

That's enough for now... I'm exhausted already and I've got the work ahead of finding the restaurant I'm after for lunch. Haven't braved a street stall yet, probably dinner.

Tomorrow morning I'm on the bus to DaLat.