One word comes to mind when I think about Ho Chi Minh City: Scooters. I have never seen so many two-wheeled motorized vehicles in my life. On our drive from the airport to our hotel we quickly learned what the preferred mode of travel was no matter how many passengers or what they were carrying. We saw families of five, bags of rice, refrigerators, computer monitors, fish traps, and several other items all defying gravity upon 100 cc motor-scooters. As we first took to the streets to explore the city by foot, we were very intimidated of the scooters which resembled swarming bees.
In our travels we've become quite aware that there are many places in the world where little things like street signs, traffic lights and painted lines on the road are ignored. Ho Chi Minh City is one of those places. Crossing the road here is a learned skill. At first, we decided to wait for a break in traffic to run across the street. We went with this futile strategy for about 15 minutes on a street corner before we saw a local man simply walk into the traffic like he had a death wish. He was quickly engulfed in traffic and magically reappeared at the opposite street corner. After following locals to cross streets for half a day, we graduated ourselves to crossing alone. Basically the technique is to walk confidently, yet slowly. The scooters will simply just move around you, kind of like water when you're wading across a river. Both my parents and Meg's dad met us in Ho Chi Minh City to visit us. After a few crosses with us, they quickly graduated to walking aimlessly into traffic as well. We hope they haven't brought this new "skill" back home with them!
Ho Chi Minh is a lively place offering the luxuries of a big city while still having old cultural charm to it. While walking through the city we found ourselves walking past a Cartier store one minute and enjoying a bowl of Pho at a street-side cafe in the next. Just like any place while traveling, there's no better way to explore than by foot. Once you get the street crossing thing down, there are many streets, alleyways, markets, malls, galleries, temples and museums to explore.
We were also very lucky to have some friends that live in Ho Chi Minh City show us around a bit and take us to some great restaurants. One thing you'll never find in a guide book, local knowledge! Thanks Neal and Xuan! We're looking forward to seeing you again the next time we're in your city.
- In 2008 we (Meggan and Beau) set out to see the world and start a business. Since then we have visited 48 countries and we’re just getting started. Travel and design go hand in hand. Whether we’re on the other side of the planet, or down the street we always find things to inspire us.