Saigon or as it is now known Ho Chi Min City was our last stop in Vietnam. Six days in Saigon was not nearly enough: the food, the people, and the coffee. Did you know that Vietnam is the second largest exporter of coffee in the world? Not only are they growing the beans, but also they are drinking it- the Vietnamese consume 8% of their coffee output, and believe me when I say coffee is everywhere is in Vietnam. In Saigon it was my heaven. Everyday I left my hotel and made my way over to a street vendor for noodles and ice coffee with sweet condensed milk to go.
Saigon is huge and the districts sprawl over the city, each area distinct. Motor scooter security and valet exists everywhere and you can feel the city modernizing. It still retains beautiful old French colonial buildings and remnants of all that has happened there. Unlike Hanoi things are happening in Saigon, industry is arriving and Saigon is changing.
We were fortunate enough to find the amazing site withlocal, which enabled us to visit a family who lives in the outskirts of Saigon on a farm. Our amazing guide-Phoung- led us through the markets introducing my husband and I to Vietnamese life. If you ever find your self in Saigon- look up Phoung and head over to her country house for the most delectable meal you will every eat. Her generous and wonderful family cooked for us, introducing us to homemade rice wine (very delicious) and I only wish I could visit them once a week!
What did I take from the Vietnamese? The Vietnamese are deeply practical people. My favorite example is how they abandoned their traditional Chinese character for the Roman alphabet when the French invaded because it was easier and quicker to learn. Chinese characters are still used for religious doctrine, but few people can read them. Also the Vietnamese are truly welcoming people. As a tourist you will always be an outsider. In different countries this sense is felt more then others, but as a whole even though I stood out more in Vietnam then anywhere else I have ever been I have never felt so welcome. I loved Vietnam and only wish I didn’t have to leave.