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Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon

Updated: Feb 27

Both names are seen frequently because some people prefer the older pre-communist name of Saigon.

The first night we look a little bedraggled after traveling for 23 hours. Although I was nervous about connecting to our second flight in Korea, I was soon to discover that a woman was waiting for all of us who needed to make the seemingly impossible connections, timewise, from Seoul to Ho Chi Minh. She was our Pied Piper with her big sign and consistent cry of Ho Chi Minh. The airport signs told us to go one way for the gate and she took us a different way that seemed to be a shortcut to an easy security line then our gate lickety split. I was grateful for the speed walk after sitting for 16 hours.

Our Airbnb host arranged for a driver to be waiting for us at the Airport. She then met us at the Airbnb in the middle of the night to make sure we were settled and comfortable. Does this somehow sound different than an Airbnb in the U.S.?

A driver picked us up the next morning to be whisked off to a dentist appointment (saving me $4000 to replace a dental bridge in the U.S.), then dropped us off mysteriously at a jewelry store where we were met by a kind and cheerful young woman who led us to the third-floor dentist. I started to feel like I was in a James Bond movie (without the espionage) where everything operates mysteriously smoothly if I stay relaxed and alert. My bridge is perfect Thank you Dr. Thuy and everyone at The Rose Dental Clinic. It may seem like a lot to fly to the other side of the world for dental work but wait, it includes a seven-week workcation.

The kitchen at our current Airbnb limits us to morning cereal and snacks. My stepdaughter gave us the excellent advice to soak the wonderful fruit here in water and iodine to kill all the bacteria foreign to our American tummies. We submitted to the idea of not cooking and eating out a couple of times per day. It costs less than buying groceries in the U.S. If we were brave enough to eat the omnipresent street food. it would be a lot less.

Fabulous tea and delicious plant-based delights are plentiful.

One night we treated ourselves to a very upscale fish restaurant (still only $50 for two) that was scrumptious with sixth sense service. How did the waiter know that if he advised me to order red snapper baked en papillote with vegetables I would be in heaven?

Opportunities to resist fight or flight responses abound. Relaxing and trusting extend to crossing the street amidst swarms of motorbikes that do not stop for crosswalks. Traffic lights and sidewalks are somewhat safer but better stay alert. Incredulous, I watch a man maybe in his 70s cross slowly, with his two little dogs, amidst hundreds of motorbikes somehow going around him. He understands the beehive and doesn't flinch or do a little dance like I have done a few times. I keep picturing the large confident steps and arm movements demonstrated by a friend who is a seasoned street crosser during trips to Vietnam. Usually, Paul and I hold hands and plunge into the swarm together, however, one time I stood frozen without Paul on a very busy street full of nonstop buzzing motorbikes. A Vietnamese man, or perhaps an angel, kindly took my hand and guided me across the street then waved goodbye.

Sunday we took a tour of the Mekong Delta and Buddhist Pagoda.

Tuesday we took a very long walk, weaving through motorbikes in 90-degree heat so Paul could go to the street noted for 50 guitar stores.

It's easy to duck out from the overstimulation of chaotically busy streets to quiet alleyways with residences, colorful markets full of yummy tropical fruits, fish, and non-western types of food. Cooking smells waft up from the streets lined with people sitting on very small plastic schools eating pho, banh mi, and bun cha.

Wednesday we went to a history museum where I learned there are 52 ethnic groups in Vietnam.

Then it was time for tea and Tet preparations viewing. Tet is the Lunar New Year celebrating the arrival of Spring. It begins on Feb. 10 this year and it's the biggest holiday. More on that later.

Video: Landing in Vietnam and Colorful Saigon Part 1

Enjoy another video by Paul! Flashback to Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City Part 2. Tea shops and guitar stores were wonderful sanctuaries in the pulsating city.

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7 commentaires

Rhonda Freed
Rhonda Freed
02 févr.

Wonderful! Can't wait to hear more!!


Wow, what an adventure! Enjoy. Looking forward to the next episode!


Can’t wait to read the rest! Congratulations to you both

Xo, ellen b


01 févr.

Hi Paul and Ellen, wow, this is very exciting. I hadn't been in touch for ages and suddenly you're in Vietnam. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I'm enjoying hearing your experiences. I'm glad you're having a great time. Love Lisa

En réponse à

Good to hear from you Lisa! It's fun to share this experience. I'll keep posting every week and at some point share Paul's video (after he has a chance to edit it). Love to you and your family.


Your best trip or at least best post. Impressived by everything including PEG's red shirt matching the background picture. Look both ways before crossing.

En réponse à

Thanks for your comment Dan! It's fun to share this experience. Paul's shirt is perfect for the upcoming Tet holiday. I can't wait to post his videos of Saigon.

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