Sweating in Saigon

I’m over 700 miles south of Hanoi now and you can tell it with the temperatures.  Daytime highs are around 90 degrees and lows are only down to around 75.  While both Hanoi and Hoi An were quaint, Saigon is urban.  It feels gritty.

The Park Hyatt, on the other hand, feels lush and lavish.  As one of the top rated hotels in both Saigon and Southeast Asia, it lives up to its billing and is a nice base of operation right in the heart of District 1 where most of the attractions are for a foreign visitor.

With a population of over 7 million, Saigon is crowded, hectic, and loud.  Even their supermarkets are frenetic..

Grocery shopping in Saigon

Grocery shopping in Saigon

Traffic is every where and, like Hanoi, somehow they figure out how to do it with killing each other.  Walking around last night, I stopped and took this video of a busy intersection that has no traffic signal.

They should send stunt drivers here to train.

This morning I set out to explore the markets and walk around the city.  I’m a big believer that getting out and walking around is the best way to get a “feel” for a city.  And, as I told my wife after my first trip to Madrid, there is something very rewarding when you leave your hotel, walk for several hours in a city you don’t know with a language you don’t speak, and you figure out how to end up back at the hotel.

Of course, you can’t do this everywhere and you must have a pretty good sense of direction and, usually, I do.  My first stop today was going to be at a market about 10 minutes walk from the hotel.  About 2 hours later, I had not found the market.

I’m not sure where I went wrong, but I did find a “locals” market street where I was able to get some nice pastries and see how non-foreigners do their shopping.  This was the butcher on the street..

Butcher shop on the street

Butcher shop on the street

Anyway, all was easily fixed with my first ride on a XO which is how they refer to motorbikes here.  Basically, you negotiate a price with the driver on where you want to go and then you get on the motorbike behind him and you are off into the traffic.  20,000 dong and 8 minutes later, I was at the market.  Best dong I’ve ever spent.

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