We arrived in HCMC (Saigon) last night after a long, hitchless trip. After breezing through immigrations and customs, we got a taxi to the hotel. The taxi ride was quite an introduction to the cacophony of Saigon; I realized I had Colin's hand in a death grip at some point during the trip and had to let go so he could regain circulation in his fingers. There are thousands of people riding scooters in packs, buses and cars trying to make their way through the scooters, and pedestrians with tremendous faith in some higher power walking slowly out into traffic. And... it was raining. At several times, the taxi driver took us into oncoming traffic when the roads narrowed due to construction, but it was okay, everybody else was doing it too... . I believe people are supposed to drive on the right (same as in the US), but that may just be the suggested practice!
We made it safely to our hotel, which is a peaceful and cool respite from the steaminess. After a good night's sleep, Colin and I started the morning with a walk to Ben Thanh Market and learned along the way that if you stop to sit and rest, someone will convincingly suggest a riding tour of the city on one of the deathscooters. Yes, we took them up on their offer, suckers for adventure that we are. It was actually a lot of fun and not nearly so frightening as you'd think (we DID wear helmets). Saigon provides a sensory overload that I have never experienced anywhere else. The continuous noises, sights, and smells were a bit overwhelming to our tired brains midday, so we went back to the hotel for an hour nap and felt MUCH better afterward. Since there can't be a post without talking about food, we ate dinner at Banh Xeo 46A. Banh Xeo are Vietnamese crepes made with rice flour and coconut milk that are filled with shrimp, pork, onions, and mung bean sprouts. We've eaten them in the US before, and I make them at home, but these were absolutely SPECTACULAR! And, I provided great amusement for some of the other customers with my method of eating them. I'm sorry to say, I tried to eat the shrimp in their shells, and I did manage to down a few of them, but I ended up picking them out of my crepe in order to peel about half of them. The young woman and her male companion sitting across from us apparently found it funny. Always glad to be able to entertain!
We are adding our photos to colinandre.smugmug.com as computer access allows.