Chinese New Year (Tet) in Siagon

We arrived here at 3.50 pm and found a buzz of excitement in Ho Chi Minh. Tonight is Chinese New Year’s Eve and this place is really alive. Our hotel is at the end of the main street (the name of which I can’t remember) just across the road from the Saigon River. We have just been standing on the footpath watching the traffic go past as people are out being seen for the holiday. At 9.30 pm tonight, there are at least ten motorcycles abreast and some with as many as five people on them – Dad, Mum and three children. They fill up the whole road in both directions. There is a cocophany of sound as people in cars, trucks and motor cycles sound their horns. Some brave people on push bikes are sometimes to be seen in the middle of all the traffic. Some vendors selling popcorn and dried squid peddle their bicycle stalls in the middle of all this.

This afternoon we decided to cross the main road to get to the river bank. It took Jill three attempts before she could pluck up enough courage to cross all the way over. I tried to tell her that all she had to do was walk slowly (as long as there wasn’t a bus or a truck coming) and the wall of motor cycles / scooters that were coming our way would part to let us though. She didn’t believe me and screamed all the way across. We actually crossed over and back on another street later on, so I think that she is getting her confidence up!

Saigon is pretty much as I remember it from 10 years ago except for a few new buildings. The rex Hotel is no loinger the tallest building in town. We passed the Asian Hotel that David and I stayed in on our last visit and saw a number of other landmarks that I think we will visit on our walking tour of the city tomorrow. The weather is hot and humid like normal – 33C. The airport is pretty much as it was and still has the concrete bunkers along the runway where fighter jets were kept during the war. Enough of that – we’re off to see the sights and the country as it is today.