We’ve been away for nearly a week & have started our journey with two contrasting stays – the madness of Saigon & the peace of Quy Nhon. Stepping out of Saigon Airport at 5.00am we met a wall of heat and a city already alive with activity. The expected swarms of mopeds weaving through the streets, but also scores of people practising tai chi & various keep fit activities – the only time it can be done as heat & humidity climb to energy sapping levels.
Having visited Hanoi a few years back we knew Saigon would be hectic but unlike the capital in the north, without an obvious ‘old town’ area there is no respite in Saigon, it’s in your face morning, noon & night. We summoned the energy to see a few key sites from the American War, the brutalist architecture of the Reunification Palace (looking remarkably similar to Crawley Town Hall) and the War Remnants Museum that displayed the most sobering and graphic images of the conflict, and the aftermath of agent orange & tonnes of unexploded ordnance that Vietnam continues to live with today.
Apart from monuments & the occasional poster of Uncle Ho there isn’t much to remind you that you are in a Socialist Republic. On the contrary commerce & capitalism seems to be rampant in Saigon.
A flight to Quy Nhon on the south central coast has brought us to an idyllic resort just north of the town to an unspoilt stretch of beach that is quite simply stunning & remarkably undeveloped (this is where we get to say “you must visit it before it gets spoilt” in smug travel writer fashion). There is very little to do here other than relax, swim, chill out, practice our shocking French & write a blog (nous ecrivons un blog). It is the epitome of beach bum tranquility. Appropriately Vietnam’s highest Bhudda (allegedly) sits on the mountain top gazing serenely down on the bay.
Having only booked a couple of places to stay we have to plan ahead for accommodation & travel, but having time on our hands, good wifi & the efficiency of the Vietnamese rail system makes this a lot easier. The next two stops are lined up.
It’s not all been plain sailing, we’ve been fleeced by a coconut seller (quite frankly we could have bought a plantation for the price we paid for 2) & have been welcomed enthusiastically by the local mosquitos – small prices to pay in the scheme of things. Now, back to the pool-side bar…….