February 17, 2015

Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)

“There are causes worth dying for, but none worth killing for.”
- Albert Camus

One of the most convenient bus rides I had was the one we took from Phnom Penh to Saigon. There’s a conductor slash waiter on board who served all of us passengers with chocolate chip bread and bottled water. Dahil sanay ako sa Manila riding ordinary buses, I felt so pampered, except for the part where we had to pass by the border and undergo immigration inspection. Ang haba na naman ng pila at dutdutan, which was very Third World hehe.

After seven hours (and upon seeing thousands of motorists on the street), we arrived safely in Saigon, a place I only heard from my all-time favorite musical Ms. Saigon. Quite honestly, I love the scene more where Chris sings “Why, God Why?” while watching Kim sleep than the real Saigon itself. At first. But then things would eventually change.

We only got to explore the capital of Southern Vietnam in little less than two days. I’m not a city person, and exploring the city on a gloomy day made things for me a little less exciting.  We were able to visit the Reunification Palace, Notre-Dame Cathedral, Saigon Central Post Office, Ben Thanh Market, and Saigon Opera House. I just wonder why Miss Saigon was never shown in Vietnam.  

So I thought that was it. But nothing could have prepared me for the whirlwind of emotions I’m about to experience the moment I set foot inside the War Remnants Museum. It is a heartbreak museum that graphically portrays the brutality and horrors of Vietnam war, and its aftermath that still affect the next generation. More than 3 million Vietnamese perished during this dark period in Vietnam’s history.

It wasn’t easy looking at pictures of men, women and innocent children who were butchered during the war. Nakakaiyak, nakakapagod, nakakagutom. After our half-day museum tour, we  immediately dig in on street food. One dish I particularly enjoyed was pho, its aromatic herbs and basil (isang plato ng basil ang ihahain sa yo!).

After retracing Vietnam’s history, we are ready to face the future. We climbed the Bitexco Financial Tower, one of the country’s tallest towers, and admired the cityscape from the Saigon Sky Deck.

And even if I’m a morning person, okay I’ve learn to love Saigon. Even if it never really sleeps at night. 
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