The Nerdy Nomad

Ho Chi Minh City

It’s been an eventful first day in Ho Chi Minh City. I woke up bright and early around 5am. The girls woke up around 6am and we proceeded to take our sweet time and only got out around 9am, after unsuspectingly missing the tour of the Cu Chi tunnels. So we quickly formed plan B, to take in some Pagodas and then go to the Remnant of War museum. We were shocked by the images we saw of the damage wreaked by the US, particularly Agent Orange. I guess I didn’t really know much about the war here. Agent Orange was a pesticide that was dropped on the jungles so that the Viet Cong would not be able to use the trees as cover for their guerrilla war. However, even after the war finally ended in 1975, and the forest slowly grew back, the poison had infiltrated the water tables and caused devastating birth defects among generations of Vietnamese.

Having previously read very harsh indictments of US foreign policy in Latin America and the Caribbean (Chile, Haiti, Nicaragua…), I really struggle to think of occasions when the US’s foreign policy has done more good than harm…

We walked to Pasteur Street in search of one of the best Pho restaurants in HCMC, Pho Hoa. For the first time since our arrival, we were the only foreigners. Under the staring eyes of a room full of locals, we slurped up the most delicious Pho I’ve ever tasted. Pho, the national dish of Vietnam, consists of flat rice noodles in a flavorful beef broth topped with meat of your choice, served with a plate of fresh bean sprouts, herbs (one of which is Thai basil, the others I’m not sure), lime, and chopped chilli on the side, which you are expected to toss into your bowl.

In the evening we headed back out to the backpacker’s district, where all the travel agents are, to look into arrangements for tomorrow. We then went to a BBQ restaurant, which was set in a garden with trees with hanging lights, a very welcome respite from the buzz of the city. We grilled skewers of meat and fish directly at our table on a tiny gas grill – this definitely would not pass health and safety in Europe or the US! We capped off the night by going to the night market, by which point I was falling off my feet (also it was pretty tacky).

Unfortunately, now that we are back at the hotel and the girls are both fast asleep, I am wide awake. Stupid jetlag…

This entry was published on April 16, 2011 at 5:32 pm. It’s filed under Vietnam and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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