Ho Chi Minh City
April 2010 • Intended to skip Vietnam because of its dubious reputation among travelers, but the pull of family ties was too strong. Soon as I got off the bus from Cambodia, I took a metered taxi to Sarah and Boonma's secure high-rise and the driver gouged me on the fare. When I wouldn't pay the add-on, he hijacked me to the other side of town and dumped me and my bag by the roadside. Welcome to HCMC. Hard to believe this is actually a communist country. There was a huge celebration on the 35th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, but the ceremony and parade were closed off to the people. So the people went to the grand opening of a luxury shopping center instead, browsing the wares of Dior, Armani, Burberry, and Lady Americana Premium Bedding. No shortage of irony here. The big breakthrough came when I met Tam at the War Remnants Museum. She invited me to visit her English club, and from that point on I never had to sweat another pirate taxi driver.
Near Pham Ngu Lao
Grand opening, Vincom Center Shopping Mall
Mui Ne (photo by Chase Pattillo)
Tam, War Remnants Museum
Agent Orange victim, War Remnants Museum