We unfortunately didn’t do anything too interesting in the south of Vietnam due to rainy weather and lack of motivation! There is lots to see in this city, but being on the road for three months has affected us somewhat mentally (physically too). I believe also we were a bit stressed out where to go after Vietnam as it had not been planned out. We are doing well now though and having spent several days with dancers our morale has elevated and are excitedly planning our new adventure…
Now back to Saigon. It is a very interesting city not in the least lacking of yummy street food, French inspired bakeries and interesting architecture. The food here is delicious, and although we have not been too adventurous eating street food, there is so much that Vietnamese cuisine has to offer. What I particularly enjoy about Vietnamese food is the freshness of ingredients and the balance of sweet, salty, pungent, fragrant and spicy. It is so much different than the other cuisines of Southeast Asia. If you are vegetarian you might have a harder time finding meals because they use fish sauce and fish paste in many dishes, but still doable (I like to eat mostly vegetarian).
In Ho Chi Minh City we visited the Reunification Palace or also called Independence Palace. This large building looks like it has been stuck in the 60s and has not changed since the fall of Saigon (or liberation of Saigon – depending on which side you are on). It is where the South Vietnam president Nguyen Van Thieu lived and worked until that fateful day of April 30, 1975 when Ho Chi Minh’s tanks crashed thru the palace gates. We explored the underground bunkers that still had the maps of Vietnam on the walls, rooms just for officers deciphering code, radio rooms, the presidents sleeping quarter, etc. The ground floor has large rooms for government conferences, dignitary receiving rooms and a large kitchen. As you go up in the floors, the rooms get more personal like game rooms, a movie theater, guest apartments, even a nightclub and helicopter pad.
That same day we also visited the famed Saigon Post Office built around 1890, a nice place to go if your into architecture. It is across the street from the Notre Dame Basilica that was constructed before the post office. Both sites are pleasant yet quick tourist destinations walking distance from other sights that are in Ho Chi Minh City.
Probably the best part of our week visit in Saigon was meeting Vietnamese b-boy FreezeB though mutual friends in the states. He was kind enough to meet us for Pho and talk about the local dance scene. We also attended a b-boy session with his crew – Zealous Crew – and just practiced with everyone. They were very welcoming to us and it was inspiring watching them teach young kids how to breakdance. It just reminded us that no matter what, we have each other and our dancing. And when we are feeling a bit out of our environment, finding local dancers is not only necessary but important for us to feel at home.