I’ve been in Ho Chi Minh City a.k.a Saigon for 2 days now, and I’ll be straight with you-I really don’t like it here.
I refrained from posting yesterday as it would have been really whiny, I would have been complaining about how much I hate it here and I wanted to at least give this city a chance; sometimes first impressions are not always correct as I well know. I realise that I’m so lucky to be in the position I am, people would give everything to be able to travel in the capacity that I’m doing, so I always seem to feel somewhat guilty when I complain about not liking somewhere- but if I provide you with some valid reasons then that’s okay right?
- It seems like everyone is trying to scam you. This may not be true, but it’s what I’ve personally experienced whilst being here. People will add money on to your food bill until you argue that’s not what it says on the menu and taxi drivers will double their meters.
- Everyone is trying to sell you something. I know this is really common in most Asian countries, but it’s on an entirely different level here. People refuse to leave you alone and will follow you down the street if you don’t buy their sunglasses, market traders will tug on your clothing, grab you and try to drag you into their stalls- it’s really insane.
- The roads are CRAZY here. I read somewhere that Vietnamese roads have the worst roads in Asia, second only to India; I thought how bad can they be? Really, really, really bad is the answer. Nobody knows how to drive here and nobody will stop to let you cross, your best chance is to just walk straight into traffic and hope for the best. It really is brutal
- You feel really unwelcome. I can’t describe what it is exactly, you just feel like you’re not welcome in a lot of places in Ho Chi Minh- or as if you’re an annoyance to everyday life here. It’s more of an underlying tone than being really obvious, some people may not feel it here, but it’s definitely something I’ve come across.
I think my main issue is that Ho Chi Minh bares such a huge difference to cities in Thailand, which I really wasn’t expecting. The above points would NEVER be an issue in Thailand; the people across the country I came into contact with were; honest, loyal, friendly and willing to go above and beyond to help you- something I just don’t see in the people here. I hope when we travel elsewhere in Vietnam this becomes less of an issue, but at the moment I am so glad that I have chosen Thailand to be my base to teach.
Whilst I was walking the streets of HCMC today, something really strange happened and it couldn’t have come at a better time…I stumbled across Paris in Asia. You did indeed read that right. Paris. here. in Asia. I love Europe and if there’s one thing I already miss about living there- it’s the beautiful architecture. So the only way Ho Chi Minh could really redeem itself was to offer me a European city on a plate- and that’s exactly what it did. (We also came across legitimately the best arcade I’ve ever seen. They had bumper cars and everything- this place was also in Paris, just FYI).
If you ever do find yourself in Ho Chi Minh, stay in Paris and literally never leave until you go to the airport. It’s stunning and you feel like you’re in a different country- people even let you cross the road with ease for goodness sake, that’s how good it is.