Soon after I got there I was telling myself that I really love this place. It’s the loveliest place that I have visited in Asia, after Japan and Taiwan. To me the people of the country are a huge factor in whether I like the place or not. This is followed by the weather, the sights and then the food.
1. I expected the people of Vietnam to be hardened by the war. Instead the young people I met (they were mostly below 30) were so gentle and friendly. I guess I have to keep in mind that a whole generation was wiped out by the war. It makes me wonder what the younger generation is taught in schools about Vietnam’s history.
2. There was no serious touting. Once you shook your head, they didn’t aggressively pursue you.
3. I also wondered if it was safe to walk the streets and was worried about pickpockets. When I reached there and walked the streets, I felt completely safe. It felt loads more safer than KL in Malaysia or Bangkok in Thailand. I hardly held on to my bag, unlike the vice like grip I had in KL or Bangkok.
4. I thought it would be impossible to cross the streets, but in fact the cars and bikes don’t go that fast (probably not more than 40 km/h) and if you do cross at the zebra crossing they will stop or at least slow down for you. So that was another preconceived notion of mine out the water. There is a lot of honking though just like what I experienced in Kerala. I think the honking in Kerala was a lot worse because cars there go at break-neck speed. Here it’s more sane although it’s still a little worrying to see little infants cradled on bikes.
5. The vendors willingly allowed tourists to take photos, even when they did not buy anything. Try this somewhere else and you’d probably get scolded.
6. This little girl was so excited about the performance on the street that she started dancing for us. What a cutie! The children here will definitely win your hearts over.
7. I also didn’t expect the streets to be this clean. I saw water being sprayed on the streets and street sweepers busily clearing the leaves as well.
8. There were also several food chains that we could find back home that had set up shop in fast growing Ho Chi Minh.
9. I was warned about the pollution, but I didn’t feel the effects of it until I spent 3 days here. The downers were definitely the pollution and scorching heat. My eyes could not take the sun’s glare and it felt even hotter than Singapore. The smoke and dust from the millions of bikes made me sneeze quite a bit. You tend to need more showers are you feel quite grimy after a walk outside. No wonder all the locals on their motor bikes wore cloth masks.
I guess I would need to visit Hanoi as well to get a fuller view of this beautiful country. I hear that it’s nice and cool in the North with even more of the beautiful French architecture.