We are spending our last two nights of this trip in Ho Chi Min city also known as Saigon. It is a huge city with a bazillion motorbikes and a lot more development than we have seen anywhere in Vietnam. Skyscrapers with bars at the top and every high end chain you can imagine. We hadn't seen a Starbucks or macdonalds once until arriving here so clearly there is more international influence here. The temperature is 32 and unbearably hot and humid, so much so that I felt like I was going to keel over at a few moments today. We arrived in the evening to a quick but crazy downpour and before we knew it it was over yet the forecast called for rain all day. We are getting experienced at crossing the street without being run over by motorbikes, which seem to just move around you and believe me it is miraculous that nobody gets hit! There are motorbike taxis here that can take you anywhere quickly for a fraction of the price of a cab. And we see more than one person on these, sometimes a family of four and a baby!
Today we ventured to the War Remnants museum to understand the Vietnam war. We both were saddened by the terrible stories and pictures that documented the war and its long lasting effects on this country. With heavy hearts we now understand how devastating it was and still today it's long lasting effects from the chemical warfare have cost generations of people with cancer and birth defects three and four generations later. What a devastating war. I have so much gratitude for my freedom and my country today.
We also visited the Notre Dam Cathedral and its colonial architecture as well as the independence Palace rebuilt after being bombed during the war and the home of the president while in Saigon.
Our highlight was meeting up with our friend from Five Stones Church, Sophie, who is living in Saigon. It was a delightful evening with Vietnamese food and catching up with our friend who moved here almost three years ago. She is teaching at a Canadian school here and loves it so much that she extended her stay another few years. We appreciated her hospitality and the lovely evening. As she is Vietnamese and French she could order for us and we tried several local dishes from stuffed snails, papaya salad, spring rolls and grilled meats as well as rice noodles with fresh herbs. To top it all off we enjoyed a sticky rice pudding with bananas and coconut cream on top and a corn pudding.... Yum!
Our time in Vietnam is over and as we look back on the last two weeks we can't help but realize how awesome this trip has been even in light of not feeling well for a lot of it. We loved seeing the different regions and how different they are as well as learning a new culture and meeting new people from around the world. We have had a relaxing time as well as a little adventure thrown in for good measure. We would highly recommend a visit to Vietnam for anyone who wants to see beauty, experience a wide ranging culture and who loves food! We look forward to coming back to Vancouver with lots of great pictures and a few treats to share. See you soon!