I spent five days last week in Ho Chi Minh City (previously Saigon), Vietnam. It was my first time in this Asian country. I, like all of the people at the work conference I was attending, was pretty impressed.

HCMC is currently at 9 million people, and with 4 million scooters. That’s the first thing you notice: the millions of motorised bikes, weaving in and out of the traffic, up and down each street. They swarm. And they all somehow get along with a shared cultural understanding, each wave taking its turn.

Seafood was great. Beer was cheap, as were taxis. It’s not overly westernised. Western visitors and expats are not uncommon. The war is so recent that memorials like the Reunification Palace, the War Remnants Museum, and the nearby Cu Chi Tunnels seem like raw, fresh wounds. The people were, like people anywhere, very friendly.

Highlights were a scooter ride ourselves through the city, and helping a school of disadvantaged kids build some bicycles.

The overwhelming feeling I got from the whole place was one of growth at every level. There are shops everywhere. There are stands along every street, selling stuff. The government has cleared the residential side of the Saigon River and plans to allow the bustling business centre to spread there.

You can see some pics from the week here.


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