Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh is the first city in this trip that I did not enjoy at all! Extremely crowded, dirty, smelly…and you get the impression that people around just do not care about one another and all scooters try to kill pedestrians (no picture available as it was very difficult to stop on the road).
However, there are some things that impressed me. The War museum tells a very sad story about the 17 years war that killed millions of Vietnamese and tens of thousands of Americans. That’s the war, one might say and I would completely agree, but Agent Orange room in the museum tells an after-war story that made me cry! The chemical weapons kept showing their devastating effects many years after the war, with children being born with horrible malformations (no hands, no legs, with very big heads and so on). And you can still see the effects. We’ve met a young girl with no palm and fingers, several men with one leg shorter than the other and one guy with a head 3 times bigger than normal – we first thought he was wearing a mask, but unfortunately he wasn’t!
We were in front of the Central Post Office building (one of the main attractions) when a group of teenagers dressed in red tee-shirts asked permission to “bother” us for a moment. They were students in economics realizing a survey about how foreigners see Vietnam. But the questions I liked most were more about respect, human rights, modern working style – how one is treated by his/ her company/ boss, teamwork vs individualism, change and so on! It sounded like a marsh for democracy.
However, the city is a mix of everything and a mirror of discrepancies. You can find both luxury hotels or business towers and ruined poor homes next to each other. Such as you can see poorly dressed men eating the daily Pho in a plastic pot in front of Louis Vuitton. We found ourselves living the same discrepancies without even thinking about it – enjoying an expensive cocktail in a luxury skybar after having had dinner on the street at the market. It just happens!