Into the Unknown – Exploring Saigon

After a much needed horizontal sleep, we were up and ready to go see Saigon at about 7am.  Our hostel, Vietnam Inn Saigon, offered a very adequate complementary breakfast, served on their rooftop bar (fantastic view!), which we happily indulged in.  They had several options including fried eggs, scrambled eggs, toast, and fresh fruit plates.  Jojo also got an iced coffee which was strangely thick and sweet, resembling a porter more than a Western-styled coffee.  It was delicious all the same!

Our first destination was the War Remnants Museum.

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Jojo standing next to a US aircraft from the Vietnam War
Jojo standing next to a US aircraft from the Vietnam War

This museum is significantly (yet not surprisingly) different than the US Vietnam War Memorial.  There is a heavy concentration on the aggression and war crimes committed by the US including disturbing images of Vietnamese people affected by Agent Orange and Napalm, letters to and from people in the US government, and anti-war demonstrations all over the world.  They also have a lot of military equipment, weaponry, and uniforms.  The building itself is very large with multiple levels and beautiful landscaping and open-air architecture.

Nicole in front of War Remnants Museum
Nicole in front of War Remnants Museum

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Origami Necklaces from the war
Origami Necklaces from the war

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Next, we headed to Nha Hang Ngon for lunch.  The draw here is that there are a ton of local street food vendors that all work in this restaurant.  They are lined up on the side of the patio, each making their signature dishes, and you can walk along the path and watch them.  The prices are pretty decent here (and are fixed.) We ordered 2 bowls of Pho and a beer, totaling 144,000vnd. The drawback is that this place is pretty touristy (like all destinations featured on Lonely Planet.)  We were happy with our experience-the patio is full of beautiful plants and it was nice to escape the obligation of haggling, due to the fixed prices.

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Jojo enjoying his Pho

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After lunch, we just roamed around for a while and found ourselves at the Ho Chi Minh City Museum.  Another site with impressive landscaping and architecture, the museum was opened after the death of President Ho Chi Minh and houses many documents, photos, and artifacts collected from his time as the leader of Vietnam.

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Jojo on the balcony of the HCM Museum
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Nicole on the balcony of the HCM Museum
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Underneath the HCM Museum

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We spent the rest of the day walking all around Saigon getting lost, found, and lost again.  Motorbikes are a very common mode of transportation in Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh is absolutely full of them.  To cross the street you just walk with a purpose and they fly all around you, anticipating your movement.  It’s a little nerve-racking at first, but it’s actually quite impressive how smoothly the traffic flows.  Sometimes we would see families of four riding on one motorbike!  We walked along big roads and ducked down alley ways, admiring the architecture and people-watching.  One thing we found very interesting is how open the apartments are.  A lot of the time you can see right into their dining and living rooms, as the doors are often left wide open.

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View from our hostel

 

As evening fell, we stopped for street food and squatted on tiny stools while eating roast chicken and pork with rice.  We sat and watched as the woman who served us stood next to the street, cooking everything on a tiny portable stove.  We ended the day with a beer on Pham Ngu Lao, watching people, cars, and motorbikes fly all around us.

 

Iced Coffee: 25,000vnd

2x War Remnant Museum: 30,000vnd ($1.40 USD)

Lunch at Nha Hang Ngon : 144,000vnd ($6.73 USD)

2x Ho Chi Minh Museum: 30,000vnd ($1.40 USD)

Dinner: 100,000vnd ($4.68 USD)

Private Room: 625535vnd ($29.25 USD)

Total Spent: 954,535vnd = $44.63 USD