Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) has 7 millions citizens.
Add to that about 2.5 million of mopeds/motorbikes. One advantage with that is that the city is not as polluted as for example Bangkok.
The traffic is very hectic. To go from one side of the street to the other side is a real achievement.
You can not stay and wait for someone to stop and let you pass, you must go slowly forward without stopping or going back!
This is what you can call “organized chaos”!
Here the people are literally living on the street – eating, having their social life, playing cards, having a siesta, reading and brushing their teeth.
Saigon is a town that never sleeps.
The contrast with our hometown Vadstena is huge and you can feel a little bit homesick, but after a day you slowly get used to it. We find our favorite cafe where we can eat fresh baguettes and French cheeses.
We mainly sat at Kims Café (at the street De Tham). Besides the good food you can also buy tours and bus tickets to the north.
Another popular cafe is Sinh Cafe at the same street.
Vietnam affects travelers in a special way due to the Vietnam War.
We visited the War Remnants Museum. The main part of the museum documents the American’s cruelty. At the garden inside the entrance there are American tanks, bombs and airplanes.
Inside the halls there are a lot of horrible pictures and it is difficult to explain to Matilda and Sara how this could happen when hardly we us adults can understand it. It was an interesting visit and it really touched us very deeply.
Even if you are not visiting the museum you will be reminded about the cruel war. Beggars and cripples are everywhere.
Who was complaining about the Swedish medical attendance?
Other places of interest in Saigon’s area are the Cao Dai temple and the Cu Chi tunnels.
The Cao Dai temple is located in Tay Ninh, 96 km from Saigon. Tay Ninh is the capital town in the Tay Ninh-province. The inhabitants are mainly followers of Vietnam’s native religion, caodaism.
On the way back we made a stop at the Cu Chi-tunnels (30 km from Saigon.
The tunnels were the base for FNL:s operations around Saigon. It consisted of tight paths (80 cm height and 60 cm wide) which connected the small villages together. In total there were hundreds of km of tunnel paths.
They were used in the Vietnam War but were started in the 1940:s during the war against the French.
There are two types of tunnels to test. One is a little bit expanded (100 cm height and 80 cm wide) and the other one is in its original (80 cm by 60 cm). The entrances are expanded to fit the tourists on both types.
We tried to creep through both the expanded and the narrower tunnel type. They were about 100 m. long tunnels.
It was very warm, humid and tight and you can’t understand how people could live inside such surroundings.
These tunnels were not residential tunnels like in Vinh Moc (see section DMZ) but were used in combat.
We were creeping in different tunnel sections up and down in different height levels with the children as guides. They were creeping like small rats and wondered why we were so late! Their enthusiasm and curiosity were enormous.
The local guide also showed us the Vietnamese soldiers homemade weapons and traps in the jungle (tilting bridges and deep covered holes with iron spikes inside). A fascinating and interesting experience.
In this strong realism you could feel the reality of the war.