Sunday, May 8, 2016

8 million people on motorbikes

Last country, last city, last Asian experiences, last days. Our trip was coming to an end and we had only a couple of days to enjoy Vietnam. Definitely, not enough!

Our trip, as for the rest of the days, was done by bus. 6 to 7 hours on a bus got us to the centre of Saigon (how people still refer to Ho Chi Minh around here). On our first minutes on the city, with our backpacks back on our backs, we got a first glimpse of how busy this city is! We had experience the crowds in Bangkok and the disregard for the rules in Phnom Penh (in all of Cambodia, really), but here... here we saw both at the same time! 8 Million people on the streets, all with scooters or motorbikes! This made crossing the streets a true adventure! Every time!

But Saigon is an amazing city (our favourite out of the 3 capitals we went to). It blends a traditional side (with its markets and lively parks) with the a most modern and high-end one (with fancy restaurants and it's multicoloured lighted roller skates and self-balancing two-wheeled board). Yes, it is a bit touristic and we did stay quite close to the backpackers area, but it was the life of the city that captivated us! Another interesting part of it, is also how different it is from its neighboring countries, especially in regards to Religion. Whereas in Thailand and Cambodia almost all houses have a little temple at the entrance (that is supposed to provide protection), here what you could see in every street were the Vietnam and communist flags. They were everywhere! This nationalist side of Saigon could also be seen in the War Remnants Museum. Here, they present their side of the story (and is always interesting to see the other side of the story), but they don't even try to hide the propaganda behind it (e.g. on the section where they mentioned the reporters that had died whilst covering the War, the Vietnamese ones were called "patriotic and martyrs", the American, French and all other reporters, were mere reporters, nothing else).

In the 2.5 days we spent in this country, we were also able to squeeze in a trip to nearest branches of the Mekong River for a day tour which, despite being overly touristic ("Now you go here! Now you try the tea! Now you look at the bees! Now you listen to the traditional music and eat the fruit! Now you buy caramels! Now you go to the boats! Now you... " - I think you can get the idea!) was good for the setting itself. It would have been quite difficult to do such a thing on our own and, honestly, at this point we were a bit too tired to think of the logistics of such a thing! Talking with other travelers in the same day-trip that had spent a few weeks in Vietnam, our will to come back and continue to explore this side of the World (and Vietnam in particular) went up exponentially!

So as the last day came, we had this feeling that we usually have. This feeling of unsatisfaction, of a job half-done, of an opportunity that was there but that could not be taken. From our days on the Koh Kood island, to the streets of Battambang (that we just quickly skimmed through), to the most rural side of Thailand and Cambodia, to the whole rest of Vietnam, we wanted to see more. But time is finite, and so were our holidays. The World is too big for 2-weeks holidays! This is the feeling of the ones that want to see more and want to experience more! Considering that, I am actually happy we feel this way! Because it is this feeling that will keep us searching for more, even if our next search is done somewhere else in the vast, amazing, sometimes incredibly cruel, sometimes incredibly kind, World of ours!

Here are some photos of these 2.5 days (as I am at home already, I uploaded a bunch! :)).

Our last long bus trip from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)
I was so happy when I showed him this photo afterwards!
The modern side of Saigon
ALF @ Saigon by night
This was a Japanese restaurant (there were so many types of restaurants around!)
@ The World Remnants Museum
Imagine crossing this street!
Like this one is! (she survived!)
Street Vendors
And some (a lot!) just decided to sleep on their bikes!
Arriving at the Mekong
On the boat!
"A volunteer to touch the bees?" Guess who that was!
On the canals of Turtle Island
Us! ALF was able to close his eyes even more than usual! :P
Our rider
She pointed us her house (this one). She looked so happy/proud of it!
Making the coconut candies
At a first glance they looked like rocks! They weren't!
This is your expression when you're photographing a very big, maybe lethal, snake!

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