Arriving in Saigon

After a delay sitting on the tarmac waiting, waiting, waiting (nothing leaves on time in Shanghai), we were off to Saigon!  As the plane neared the ground, the first thing I saw was the cluster of headlights illuminating the sky at an intersection–20 scooters across–what fun we will have trying to stay alive as we cross the streets here!

Ben Thanh market at night-can't wait to see it when open
Ben Thanh market at night-can’t wait to see it when open

Upon arrival, with passengers exiting fast out of the front and the back of the plane, we all ran to the buses that would take us to the small terminal.  The Visa process here is fairly simple with all non-Asian citizens herded into one area for processing.  We paid for “speedy” process and personal assistance but next time we’ll probably skip this extra fee we paid and do it ourselves.  Didn’t seem to get us through any faster and it was very simple.  The people watching was so interesting while we waited–huge diversity of visitors.   Vietnam attracts the hippy backpackers in droves-Bob Dylan shirts, dreadlocks and all.  It’s cheap and fun here.  We love, love Vietnam–everyone is so friendly and almost everyone speaks great English so it’s just easy.

We had paid also to have a private car take us to our lovely hotel, the Park Hyatt, and that was worth it as it is chaos outside the terminal.  Interesting that the waiting area is all outside with a canopy thus saving on A/C bills for the airport but making it fairly miserable for all in the hot tropical conditions.

Enjoying wine at outside café-lots of night life here in Saigon
Enjoying wine at outside café-lots of night life here in Saigon

Throwing the bags into the room, we immediately ventured out and went in search of an ATM.  Got to get us some Dong!  At 22,000 Dong to $1 US, you can get put off thinking something is terribly expensive at 2 million Dong but really not so much.  Dong in hand, we were off to explore Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon–either name seems to work here.

Crossing the street among all the scooters is challenging but when Thom went on ahead, leaving me to cross by myself, I just waited for a group of young dudes to venture out into the crosswalk and I inserted myself into their pack.  There is safety in #’s and they graciously shielded me from harm.  Thanks, guys!

Along the way, we managed to find some beautiful buildings, interesting stores and a Moroccan belly dancing club.  Who knew?  Something I never knew–Thom is freaked out by belly dancers but I’m trying to get him to go just for the experience.  After a glass of wine and some snacks at an outside café, we called it a night, eager to get some rest and explore Ho Chi Minh City tomorrow. More adventures to come!

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