Thursday, October 11, 2007

Live from Vietnam

This week Cambodia is celebrating Phchum Ben, a holiday of some sort, so I've taken advantage of the time off work to make a jaunt over to Ho Chi Minh city to see what all the rage is.

I am pleasantly surprised. I heard so many travelers in Cambodia bitching and moaning about how they hate the Vietnamese, what a pain in the ass the country is, etc etc, so I was bracing myself for intensity, but so far it's nowhere to be found. People are remarkably friendly and, yes, a bit more business-oriented than their Theravada Buddhist neighbors to the west (Vietnam, apart from the large Catholic minority, practices Mahayana Buddhism, like China)

My impression is that HCMC is a mix between Bangkok and Phnom Penh, though closer to the former than the latter. It's a bit like Bangkok, but better managed and without all the horribly ugly expressways, fly-overs, and the skytrain which obscure so much of the Bangkok sky with rain stained concrete. It's a city of motorbikes, though it seems that the cars are starting to chip away at the 2 wheel monopoly on the roads. For a coffee lover like myself, it's a dream. Cheap, good, domestically grown coffee is served everywhere. The food is also a dream... a lot more variety than the gnarly strips of pork on a pile of rice that I've been imbibing in Cambodia.

I'd better stop there or I might just convince myself not to go back on Sunday!

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