I am only briefly in Saigon. (Although officially the name of the city is Ho Chi Minh City, everyone except the government still calls it Saigon.) The short and long story about my day is Saigon is “I got lost.”
I mean really lost. Like no-clue-where-I-was lost. I-knew-I-could-always-flag-down-a-taxi-,-but-then-I-stopped-seeing-taxis-because-I-was-in-a-residential-neighborhood lost. Finally, I found a canal and, after a detour of following it the wrong way for a while, I managed to head back toward the Saigon River and at least reorient myself in the city. I finally got close enough to my hostel to recognize the I had passed through intersections before. Then I walked through the same intersection three times, from three different sides and I decided that it was probably time to hop in a taxi to head home. That was my day in Saigon.
The canal that led me home.
The next day I took a hydrofoil south to the coastal city of Vung Tau.
Vung Tau has three claims to fame: 1. Being close enough to Saigon to be a day trip seaside retreat 2. Lots of pretty temples including one that is only accessible at low tide 3. The tallest statute of Jesus in the world. While you may have thought that claim went to Rio, the people of Vung Tau claim that their Jesus is a few meters taller.
After climbing Jesus (there has to be something blasphemous about that phrase), I headed to the beach for the afternoon. I took a nice long walk and then sat down for a lunch of an octopus, roasted over coals on the beach. I then went for a nice swim in the ocean which was actually refreshingly cool. I tried to avoid thinking about the fact that standing mid-chest deep in the water I couldn't see my feet, and instead I puzzled over the fact that many Vietnamese people, mostly women, but also some men, went swimming fully clothed. I don't mean a t-shirt over bathing suit fully clothed, but actually in sweaters and jeans in the ocean. I never quite figured it out.
The nice lady who cooked my lunch…
Women picking cockles (I believe) at low tide.
I took the last boat back to Saigon and hit the hay for my bus to Phnom Penh the next morning.