Miss Saigon

Un bel dì,
vedremo levarsi un fil di fumo
Sull’estremo confin del mare.
E poi la nave appare.

Giacomo Puccini - Madama Butterfly

After falling to the Viet Cong in 1975, Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City the following year. With a population of 9 million it is the biggest city in Vietnam, and is the economic powerhouse of the country. The capital may be Hanoi, but here is where it's at.

Most of the sights and hotels are in district 1, which is where we are stating. We are in the main backpacker area (the alternative is the 4-5 star area which would blow the budget in no time). Our street couldn't be more typically backpacker: a narrow alley crammed with hostels and tour agencies. The hotel is nice, but we expected more given the TripAdvisor rating.

We are next to a nice green area, with a massive playground in the middle. Spent most of the afternoon there. We have 4 full days in HCMC, there is loads to do here.

Lesson learnt today: if random young women (mostly) start talking to you out of the blue it isn't an elaborate trick to steal your wallet, they just want to practise their English. Amazing what proactivity you find out here in Asia. Having said that, it's great to have a couple of kids to use as an excuse to escape their clutches.

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