Ho Chi Minh City – Coconuts…

Hustling remains in HCMC but in a subtler calmer sense compared to Hanoi. Feeling untouchable for almost an entire month, no scam would get me. I fell victim of a scam, particularly a coconut scam.

We were waiting across the street and a gentleman carrying coconuts. Willingly gave us advice about our cell phones by not using them out in the open because scooterists would snatch them as they ride by. Jamie, the coconut guy, and I, begin crossing the street. At this point I knew he wanted to sell us a coconut. Reaching inside his container, he pulls out a coconut and begins handing it to me. I told him no. I don’t want it. This is where things take a turn. Remaining nice, he stubbornly said “here, here, it’s free.” That should have been my first red flag. Silly me thinking, oh a free coconut, I take it without hesitation. Then he goes after Jamie. Gullable me at this point was like, Jamie he wants to give you a coconut. Keep in mind, he never said free or mention of any price. Hands her a coconut, pulls out a machete, opens both our coconuts. We were about ready to walk away and the coconut guy stops us and said 115,000 dong looking directly at Jamie and her coconut. Contributing to the idea of a free coconut to Jamie, I am defeated. Not only did I fall victim to the scam, we found out hours later, ordering lunch, the coconut juice from the coconut was only 18,000 dong. Now, I’m crushed. No longer untouchable and learned nothing is “free.”

Ho Chi Minh City

We are back in Ho Chi Minh City! We came back to HCMC because we are meeting our friends in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Originally, we wanted to go from HCMC to Hanoi. After we purchased our tickets, our friends told us they can meet us in HCMC, travel to Cambodia, then Thailand. We were very excited to have our friends fly across the globe to meet us and show us around from their experiences. However, things never go as planned. They couldn’t meet us in HCMC because of time constraints so we will meet them in Siem Reap, Cambodia. 

Independence/ Reunification Palace

The appearance of Ho Chi Minh City is a vibrant city.  Everyone is ready to get going to their next meeting point, whether it is for business or pleasure.  Arriving in Ho Chi Minh City in the middle of the day, we had the ability to see everything from a bus’s perspective.  The transportation is more organized than Hanoi but still chaotic with motorbikes everywhere driving on the sidewalks.  Backpacker central also known as District 1 is where we spent about 6 nights.  The setup was mainly the same as the Hanoi.  Central markets, numerous vendors, street food are everywhere. But, gigantic 7 floor malls are within skyscrapers. Arriving in Ho Chi Minh City in the middle of the Vietnamese New Year (Tet), year of the rat, everyone is preparing for this gigantic celebration.  Tet is the biggest holiday celebration.  Some say that family all over the world flies back home to celebrate Tet with their family.  Unfortunately for us, we missed the celebration by a week.  Preparation for Tet is enormous, they were closing off streets, building structures, choreographing dance, transporting many objects during our arrival.  Even before our arrival some streets were closed off and structures were up for Tet.  Watching them prepare for their annual Tet holiday lead to excitement because of the time and preparation leading up to the new year.

We walked to most of the touristy things in and near District 1, except for the nightlife.  Spending three days downtown going to Independence/Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office. and ventured outside for a day trip to the Cu Chi tunnels.  Tourism within the districts of Ho Chi Minh City are devoted to the First Indochina and the American/Vietnam War.  More information was provided in the American/Vietnam War than the First Indochina War.  Significant yet morbid photographs are posted in the War Remnants Museum.  The photographs were intense, The States would omit most of the photos.  The photographs would describe the horrible atrocities of the Americans attempts to help win the war with torture and killing to the use of phosphorus smoke and agent orange. Unfortunately, this lead to The States to use numerous types of gases to draw out the Vietnamese out of the tunnels. The Cu Chi Tunnels were interesting because they are a vast underground system. But, this method lead to many Vietnamese to asphyxiate inside the tunnels.  

Tour Guide, Lam, standing in a concealed underground door.

Coming to Ho Chi Minh City is enormous with many things to do throughout.  With the amount of time that we had, I am glad we got a different perspective from the war.  If i had to choose again, I would, at minimum, go to the War Remnants Museum and the Cu Chi Tunnels. Just those combined would help gain a better insight to the Vietnam/American War efforts from the Vietnamese.  I will admit my knowledge of American History is poor after World War 2 but visiting these sights helped put together a better understanding for myself.

Widened Cu Chi Tunnel for Westerners