btw I am aware that the phrase is "Good Morning Vietnam" but I'm using a play on words to indicate my leaving and probably never going back.
The Vietnam trip was errmm.. well I would say a disaster but it was salvaged some what at a major cost.
When I initially thought of writing this blog everything was gonna be negative or a bit of a complaint, like the fact that alot of people in the international airport don't speak English. (I just thought, if a country will trade largely in US dollars - the US being an English speaking country- that they would have a basic level of proficiency in the language of trade. In fact you lose more money in Vietnam if you use Vietnamese Dong.) But then I thought it won't be balanced or particularly fair to Vietnam so instead, here are the things I liked about Ho Chi Minh City, interrupted by a few Dos and Don'ts.
Some people call it Independence Palace others, call it Reunification Palace. On maps (i.e.Google) it's called Reunification Palace but regardless of name it's one and the same. Do you're own research, its better when you feel you can connect with the story behind it.
Take a camera, you'll want to take many photos of this 1970s throwback. I've seen houses that my Grandfather built in Ghana in the 1970s, and walking into the Palace in HCMC, I can see the similarities. The Palace really is the epitomy of 1970s architecture and interior design. Even the rooms that are decorated and set up to look like they are from a time long before the establishment of the Palace, have a 1970s atmosphere.
You can't walk into any of the rooms (but one on the second floor) which kinda sucks but is expected, but you can still get some good photos.
Ben Thanh Market
Go here if you want to get souvenirs or Vietnamese coffee. It's got a bit of a whiff but they say that after you endure a smell for a couple minutes you can't smell it anymore, so when you get there take a deep breath, soak in the whiff and it won't bother you for the rest of the time.
These market people are hardcore grafters! Real hustlers. Do not attempt to barter with them if you're not afraid to screw them in price because, frankly, if you don't, they will.
Notre Dame/ Central Post Office
The Notre Dame is just another church. I liked it but I don't understand the actual attraction people have to churches apart from as a place of worship. I would've been happy to burst out into praise and song but I don't think the other tourists would have appreciated it.
Whats great about the Notre Dame is that you can appreciate it from every angle and it has this sort of central feel. It is right opposite the Central Post Office which sports a beautiful portrait of Ho Chi Minh high up at the end of the grand hall. The Post Office has two souvenir shops with all you'll need gift wise.