So where did I leave you? Oh right, at the Beautiful Phu Qouc Island.. After 6 days at the Island we went to the busy Ho Chi Minh city!
Vietnam has a long interesting history that you can actually feel while walking in the city.. And here is a short history lesson: in the 19th century Vietnam was colonized by the French, in 1940 the Vietnamese fought the French and eventually expelled them in 1954.
After that, Vietnam was divided politically to two countries: the North, which was rule by Ho Chi Minh and the South, which was supported by the USA. The two countries fought each other in what was known as the Vietnam War and ended with the North victory in 1975.
After the war, the capital of the South, Saigon, changed the name to – “Ho Chi Minh City” (after the North president’s name).
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh city is a great city to travel to or live in, especially as an expat. You are in an Asian city with western French touch. The architecture is beautiful and very special; the city is full with all kind of different restaurants, bars, clubs and coffee shops. It’s just full of life!
Since we were visiting during the New Year holidays all the streets were decorated with lights and flowers, and everyone was dressed very festively in their traditional Vietnamese clothing.
We also visited the war museum, which was very interesting and mostly describing what happened as a mistake made by the South. And the Americans, to say it nicely, weren’t presented in a positive light.
I would just recommend you to take a walk in the city and enjoy the lively atmosphere, and be careful when you cross the street 😉
Ha (river) noi (inside) or the city of the “Beep -Beep”. Hanoi has over 7 million people and there are about 4 million motorbikes! Most of the motorbikes don’t have mirrors so everybody is constantly beeping! You just have to get used to the sound of the city 😉
Hanoi city feels much more crowded than Ho Chi Minh. An important reason is the fact that you can find a place to eat mostly in the street. One time I was waiting for my fiancé in the street and wanted to sit down on the sidewalk, when all of a sudden a woman came to me and started shouting: “This is my spot! If you want to sit down you need to order something from my shop”! It was right in the middle of the street!
The streets are messy and dirty. There is one nice lake to walk around though, but besides that to be honest, it’s not on my top city list.
The best part of the trip: Ha Long Bay!
I booked in advance a cruise to Ha Long Bay with “Galaxy Premium Cruises”. It sounds fancy, but in fact I had no idea what to expect… From what I know, it could be a bunch of old people taking a cruise on the “love boat”! Well it wasn’t like that at all! We had a shuttle bus that picked us up from the hotel in Hanoi, with a really nice tour guide called Juan, who told us all kinds of interesting stories about Vietnam, and after 4 hours drive we arrive to the port where all the ships dock.
We were about 20 people on the boat; most of them couples about our age (24-40 years old) most of them coming from China, either Chinese or expats like us.
The first day, everything was great: the room (although a bit tiny), the view to the bay, the beaches, the cave we visited and the dinner.
The next day, the surprises kept coming. In the morning you can have a Tai Chi class and a cooking Vietnams spring rolls class. Some of the people after that went kayaking, we decided to rest and enjoy the amazing view on the deck.
In conclusion, Vietnam is a very interesting place to visit. The history of the place is so complicated that you actually can feel it on the people, in the streets and even in their food. Everything feels like a mix of something you know but you actually can’t put your finger on it. The people are really nice, sometimes they are too nice, that you just want to be left alone..
So long Vietnam and back to my freezing home in Beijing!