Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

I left Phnom Penh today… The Phnom Penh airport looks like a much smaller version of Walmart, by the way, and when I walked in today the place was virtually empty. It’s a nice new airport, but it was like a ghost town today. I looked at the departures and arrival screen and the only flight was my flight! And it turned out 90% of the people on my flight were in transit to somewhere else… most of them looked Japanese so they probably fly from Tokyo to Ho Chi Minh, and then on to Phnom Penh.

Anyway, I arrived in Saigon today. Instantly I felt like I was back in a big city (which I like). Saigon has a population of 5 million+ out of a total of 80 million in all of Vietnam.

I’d say about 95% of the traffic on the roads is motorbikes, so my cab was the fish out of water as we careened down the road, swerving in and out amongst the bikes. Most of the taxi’s are motorcycles too but I took a regular car taxi from the airport.

I am staying at the Windsor Plaza Hotel (www.windsorplazahotel.com) for my first 3 nights here… after that I don’t know what I am going to do, but in reading the magazine on the Vietnam Airlines flight about Vietnam, it looks like there are a lot of really cool, neat places in Vietnam.. lots of beachside resorts (practically the whole country is just one big coastline) so I may check one or two of those out.

My hotel is a 5 star hotel and pretty nice… I got a deal on it for $55US/night off the internet, so not too bad.

This may sound like a bit of a moronic statement, but hey, maybe I’m a moron. But, it was kinda funny, in my first few minutes here I came to the realization, for the first time, that Vietnam is actually a real country, where all the Vietnamese people come from. LOL, its funny, but as far as ‘vietnamese culture’ goes, I pretty much only ever thought of it as Vietnamese restaurants… every town has a few, or even a whole area, where all the signs say “Dong Traung Pho” and “Ngoc Vien Trang” and all those obviously Vietnamese looking names… but when I first got here I actually thought to myself, “Whoa, this whole country is like a little Vietnam”. Yup I’m probably a moron.

I’ll probably have a lot to report on Vietnam as the more I see and learn about it, the more interesting it looks to me. Add to it that I’ve had a few Vietnamese girls in my life who I totally liked a lot (everything from their look, to their personality) so I am curious to see if there are lots more here!

I’ll probably have some comments on their political and economic systems too (you can’t shut me up! you don’t own me!). It struck me as funny that on the visa it lists Vietnam’s full official name, “The Socialist Republic of Vietnam”. I think, much like China, this isn’t really communist at all anymore… but its funny that is the name of the country… they might as well just say, “The Place Where We Take Your Money And Then Waste Most of It And Give The Rest To Everyone Else Republic of Vietnam”. Super.