Friday, September 22, 2006

HCMC - the neon city

When somewhere is called a city- you expect it is going to be big- think NYC, Mexico City et al and in many ways Ho Chi Minh City has not disappointed in terms of size. It feels massive and makes Hanoi seem provincial. The buildings here are quite tall and there is even the odd mini sky scrappers lurking in the skyline. On arrival I was greeted not by the usual 1 million horns I had come to expect but perhaps 1 billion, this place is loud! The traffic here is dense and like Hanoi you feel lucky to simply survive crossing the road.

HCMC is also very rich- there are up market stores, with proper street fronts and display cabinets that make Hanoi's rambling old quarter look quite quaint. In my mind I have named HCMC the neon city, lights are everywhere and despite not being an obvious beauty of a city HCMC feels sophisticated, western and global.

I arrived yesterday after a grueling 20 hour train trip from Hoi An. My guidebook lists riding the Re- Unification express (train) as the 26th best thing to do in South East Asia...let me be upfront and honest, I can think of at least 1 thousand better things... who ever wrote the rough guide should be shot! I booked a first class soft sleeper cabin and whilst this ensured relative luxury- I was sharing the compartment with my 2 new rodent friends- I could have died!

Today I am being lazy (I am feeling a little under the whether and have come down with something very unpleasant), to make matters worse I am also very hung over as after watching the Swans cane the Dockers. I was feeling quite proud and certainly found my fill. I managed to find a great little aussie bar called the Blue Gecko- they had a big screen and whilst I was the only person decked out in my colours (I had to represent)it was a fantastic atmosphere- can't wait to next Saturday when the Swans go back to back!

Tomorrow, I am going to visit the Cu Chi tunnels 40 kilometers out of the city where the Viet Kong waged war on the Americans.

It is so exciting to be living a dream and I feel really happy to be alive, independent and free to experience the wonders the world throws at me.

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