Ho Chi Minh city is the first place I’ve felt overwhelmed in since I left India. The city, better known as Saigon,has four million motorcycles, for eight million people. I swear that in rush hour you feel like the four million of them are there, at the same stop light, all waiting to run you over. The immensity of the chaos makes the ability to swerve very respectable. There’s so many, but I haven’t seen any collide. The only accident I’ve seen involved a bus and a car.
I think due to how overwhelmed I was for the first time in this trip I felt homesick, or at least a little sad. I tried to go to the reunification palace, and it was closed. About three times cab drivers or motor bike drivers (no tuk tuks in Vietnam) took me around overcharging me like an idiot. My hotel was pretty dirty but I did not feel like looking for another one. I felt better once I booked a day trip for the next day going to see the cu chi tunnels though, since it seemed like a nice escape from this city that had not received me too well.
Things turned around when I met up with a French couch surfer who has lived in Vietnam for about three years. He spent some time in Colombia and was apparently very well received by my compatriots, so he felt like he had a debt to repay. He picked me up in his moped and took me to a BBQ restaurant where you get to grill your food on the table. Quite a nice place! There were hanging lights from tall trees and a beautiful ambiance. The waitress did not expect my French friend to speak Vietnamese, and honestly, neither did I, but it was nice to see the shock on her face. My shock came when I saw a gigantic rat just scurrying around the table next to us, and then head over to ours, I screamed and jumped like any normal person would, but Frenchie was just amused at how easily startled I could be.
The Cu Chi tunnels were interesting, but if I can avoid it, I’m never going on one of those gigantic tour buses again. It was very fun to hear Americans as being the villains. I had honestly not heard the spiel about the Vietnam war from the communist governments perspective. As a Vietnamese man showed us how they could get into holes in the ground the size of my foot, a Spanish woman right next to me said: “hey pero si eso es trampa” (hey, that’s cheating!) apparently it’s unfair that Asian people can wiggle themselves into absurdly enclosed spaces were Americans could probably only fit one leg.