Wednesday, 26 October 2011

So long Saigon...

Saigon welcomed me at dawn with a noise that filled the streets, plenty of hustle and bustle and more than anything it was moped mania. In Vietnam, there are over 23 million mopeds...I feel as though all 23 million are in Saigon. Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City, whichever you prefer really...even the locals call it Saigon, is a city that is extremely vibrant and full of diversity. It oozes something much more than it's partner up in the North, Hanoi. It gives you a feeling of safety, history, culture, fun and more than anything...a beautful place to be.

Initially the plan was to stay for perhaps 3 days, we then extended it to our last visa day of 6 days, it captured my heart so much. As I am staying in the 'backpacker' area, there are plenty of hustling streets filled with neon glowing lights, street vendors and an unlimited selected of Pho (Traditional Vietnamese Noodle Soup) stalls. Each day, I have wandered around this huge city, visiting the grand palace, museums and parks.

My most enjoyable day was the Cu Chi Tunnels. This place was amazing, I was able to take the tour around the battle areas, crawl through the tunnels....yes you do literally have to crawl. It made me realise just what people had to do in combat as a means to survive. At the Cu Chi tunnels, I was able to visit the shooting range, to which my selection was a M16...I must admit I was nervous but excited. The sounds of guns blowing through the tree's and openland is scary to say the least, it also gives you a quiver than runs thorugh your whole body, almost an uneasiness for what is occuring around you. When I walked up, I positioned myself and then shot the gun, it was a strange sensation. I do not like war and I despise the fact that so many human lives on both sides, especially in the American/Vietnam War were lost, however, firing that gun gives you a sense of power. Adrenaline fills your body and it's almost addictive in a sense that it's fun. Fair enough I am in 2011 and firing at a sand bag on a target, so in a sense it is easy for me, what I reflected upon later was what all those soldiers on both sides must have gone through during battle. This has furthered my admiration and determination of the Vietnamese people on how they dealt with this war on their land, worked through it and have now moved on with their lives and society as a whole.

Vietnam has been a country that has educated me on many things about human determination and belief. Through many centuries this country has experienced war and control, even today people could say as a 'Communist' country it is under strict control. I would rather disagree and express my opinion that this is a country founded in independence for the people, history, cultural diversity and more evidently openess. The country varies throughout, my journey from North to South has experienced many enjoyable experiences and this is something that I am grateful. I am sad to leave Vietnam but also ready to embark on something different and a new chapter in my travels. So tomorrow I shall depart for Cambodia...on a hopefully comfortable bus and smoth ride, but we shall see, giving the rollercoster journeys I have experienced over the past month.
Coming out of the Cu Chi Tunnels

Chilling by a tank

Firing my gun...the names Newman, Laura Newman 008! haha!

Exploring one of many museums throughout Saigon

Outside the Palace...exploring Saigon

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