Saigon (Ho Chi Minh Vietnam)

November 9, 2015


Archival museum grade inkjet print, photographed, signed, and numbered by photographer Dylan Ozanich.

1 of 50 edition.

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Ho Chi Minh Vietnam, or previously known as Saigon, was our last stop in our month long stay in Vietnam. There could be a whole novel written about the craziness that we saw in the four days we stayed here but let’s start off with our journey just getting into the city. We were convinced at one point Google maps was trying to sabotage us but finally we managed to see the big skyscrapers of the city and we knew we were close. One last turn onto a big highway/bridge and we would be there. Once our little put put scooter made that turn we had realized we made a huge mistake. Looking all around us we noticed we were the only motorbike on this highway and there was no getting off. Giant trucks were honking and waving their arms in the air wondering what we were doing, other motorists were pulling out their cameras to take pictures and meanwhile we thought we this was it for us, we were going to Vietnamese jail. As soon as we came to the end they already were expecting us, blowing their whistles and running towards where we were pulling up. We thought for sure we would get our bike taken away or at the very least get a ticket but once they realized we were American tourists they laughed and directed us the right way. At this point we thought, “wow this place is going to be great!” Shortly after this we were in the city, and our outlook quickly changed. Imagine taking every person in the United States and putting them all on motorbikes in one city together. It was complete chaos. When we made it down our little alley to our hostel in district one we were relieved and ready to do some walking. It didn’t take long to realize how westernized this city was. It was big, bright, noisy, crowded, a bit smelly and very expensive.

Almost as quickly as we walked out our front door we got our first of 1000 warning from people saying be careful of our stuff, don’t carry a camera, don’t hold a phone, and don’t even wear a purse. With every tourist we met came a horror story about how they had been robbed, beat up or even had their hotel room ransacked after they left it. This changed everything for us. We ran back to our room, dropped everything off and even hid some of our things in places hoping no one could find.

Trying to make the best of the rest of our day we headed to China town. This is a huge part of Saigon with its own Chinese temples and markets. The market like many we had seen before was never ending, winding stalls with sweaty vendors sitting and begging you to stop and buy something. Although these markets are sometimes hard to get through they do have the best food stalls and we always make sure to stop at one.

We kept hearing about the tallest building in Saigon that we had to go to the sky deck of to take pictures. Once there the reception told us 20 US dollars each to go up, and we laughed and walked out. After doing some research we found out that was only for the tourists, that the locals had a back way in up to the roof cafe where you could just buy one drink and sit and see the same view. We felt like we had beat the system and headed up to spend hours taking the most amazing photos and sipping on two of the most expensive cocktails we had yet so far in our travels.

Eating is a big part of our trip, we are always looking for the best cheap eats. Most places in this city will advertise to you their cheap beer and western food which is never much good. We found one place in the tourist area we liked not because their food but because the young waiter wanted to sit with us and learn English words every time we came. One night we decided to splurge and go to the ritzy part of town to get a good meal, and we decided on Indian food. This place called Ganish had great reviews and we were craving something other than Vietnamese. We thought we were going to be splurging but that wasn’t the case at all, it was cheap, felt high class and it was absolutely amazing. I would have to say that our favorite meal on this whole city was a street stall (not really even a stall just plastic stools set up in an alley with motorbikes racing down the alley an inch from your feet) that sold seafood. The specialty, open clams with shallots and peanuts and I don’t know what else but we ordered plate after plate after plate. My advice for food, avoid tourist areas and look for the small places the locals go.

The time spent here in Ho Chi Min City was exciting, quick and a little bit frightening. You could spend weeks here and see something new everyday but for us the big city feel was not what we were looking for. We had some really special moments with locals we met and other travelers but it was time for us to head on into Cambodia.
ho chi minh vietnam
ho chi minh vietnam
ho chi minh vietnam

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