Ken Bebelle

Magic – Monsters – Mayhem

*whew* As of me writing these words I have been back in the states for two days and boy the the jet lag smack me around today. My family spent the last three weeks in Vietnam (visiting my wife’s family) and Singapore (generally eating and having a gluttonous time). I hadn’t been back to Asia in quite some time, and the last time I went (about six years ago) we didn’t really have time to enjoy the trip. Plus, this was the first time we were taking our (grown) kids so at least this time they would remember the trip.

Saigon, Vietnam

What I definitely remember from last time I was here:

Welcome to Motorbike City

Saigon is (like my memories of Taipei and Tokyo) an aggressively urban city. Cars and motorbikes everywhere. Traffic flows like schools of fish or flocks of birds. Driving rules and signs/lights are a gentle suggestion at best. The one rule of the road is: he who moves first, wins.

Saigon highrises in morning mist
One end of the busy Nguyen Hue Promenade

I’m always struck by the dichotomy of big Asian cities. Tons of new construction, highrises that tickle the clouds…

Old Saigon, smack in the middle of new Saigon

…and little rows of old architecture crammed into the middle spaces. There’s also a huge split between the rich and the not-rich that is impossible to miss. It’s like two separate cities living in the same space, but rarely intermixing.

We got to Vietnam just after Christmas, and enjoyed our time until New Years. We got insanely lucky and got a room at our hotel that over looked the Saigon River, just down the way from where they shot off fireworks for New Years Eve!

Boom!

After the turn of the year we packed up and headed out to Singapore, just a short flight from Saigon. Come back next week for stories from the City of Cities!

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