Ho Chi Minh City (often referred to, even today, as Saigon)
A day of sensory contrasts: humidity and air conditioned chills, stale water drains and wafts of incense, designer stilettos and slip-slops with toe-stockings, stilt houses, mirrored skyscrapers and a French-style opera house, Parisian pastries and Vietnamese Pho.
One of those turn at the red traffic light, go straight when they are green, catch the first bus that stops sort of days. Directions, with marked maps, from our helpful hotel (L ‘ Odeon) kept us from getting totally lost.
A walk down through the upmarket streets of District 7, Crescent Park, across the Starlight Bridge before the brief air conditioning relief of the shopping center. The Coffee Factory (TCF), a definite, with its iced jasmine tea served before the coffee delicious. The iced coffee came with an ice foam (in reality ice-cream) a tad challenging. The coffee full of flavour.
The bus to District 1, air conditioned and simple to negotiate. Helpful conductors made sure we didn’t step off into the way of a hurtling motorcycle and settled us into the rhythm of the city. The market, amazingly clean, full of life and easy banter.
Typical Vietnamese meal at Mon Hue, recommended by the hotel as it had pictures of the food and didn’t charge foreigners extra. Skirted the noodles, enjoyed the broth infused with lime, ginger, chili flavours and grazed my way through a plate of fresh green bits (a typical Vietnamese serving, which I ate separately and did not add to the noodle dish). The meat bits far too frightening for me to negotiate.
Darkness comes early and the streets are soon dancing with the ever changing reflections of building light-shows and scooter headlamps. The terrace at White House Coffee for a beer listening to a great music selection, watching the street vendors perform their own magic show.