The bus journey from Kampot to Ho Chi Minh City turned out to be 13 hours instead of 8 hours, but what does that matter when HCM is such a wonderful, modern and exotic city! We both loved it at once, and felt that we were back in a great world metropolis. It might even be better than Bangkok! It’s certainly easier to get around, and its got a lovely and busy atmosphere. As expected the traffic is insane, especially in rush hour, but I managed to cross the road with Mike’s help!
We stayed in a really nice hostel in District 1, which meant that we could walk to all the main tourist attractions in the area.
The first stop on our first day was the Independence Palace. It’s the old presidential palace which was stormed by the North Vietnamese during the fall of Saigon and marked the end of the Vietnam war in 1975. The palace has been kept the way it was back then, and it feels a bit surreal to walk around this beautiful old building that still looks exactly as it did in the 70ies.
Notre Dame Basilica & old post office
The Cathedral and the old post office are two architectural remnants of the French colonialists in HCM. The Cathedral marked the first church we’ve seen since being in Southeast Asia. Both buildings are gorgeous and very European looking. Being there feels a bit like being somewhere in Spain in midsummer.
War remnants museum
The war remnants museum offers a terrifying and detailed lesson in the Vietnam War (1955-75) and its consequences that are still affecting people in both Vietnam and the US. It’s a very graphic way of learning the history of this incredibly bloody and horrifying war, and it certainly makes an impression.