5/7 Day 1: Phở and Scooters

Well, after 30 hours of travel we’ve finally arrived!  And let me just say, when people say everyone in Ho Chi Minh City (which everybody calls Saigon, official name change or no) drives a motorbike, they mean EVERYONE drives a scooter. This is a relatively uncrowded intersection.

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Although the scooters sure surprised me, I was more surprised of the availability of phở for breakfast. I was familiar with phở, but I was very surprised to see it as a breakfast food. If I’m being perfectly honest, Vietnamese food is about what I expected (except a hundred times yummier), but for the accepted breakfast menu. As I dislike most usual American breakfast foods this was quite an exciting discovery for me, to get to have phở for breakfast!

Another thing that surprised me was the inside of Bưu điện trung tâm Sài Gòn aka Saigon Central Post Office. The centrally placed photo of Ho Chi Minh was not exactly unexpected, but it still surprises me how his image seems to be everywhere. There are statues on the streets, pictures on propaganda posters, and even  busts in some buildings! I understood Ho Chi Minh to be a national hero, but I did not realize to what extent. It’s interesting that someone most Americans see as the bad guy of the Vietnam War is the shining hero of another nation.

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Another part of the tour where we saw the post office that surprised me was a subway under construction. It is due to be finished in 2020, although the Vietnamese students with us seemed skeptical. The subway reflected clearly the ongoing development of Vietnam as the nation continues to build better infrastructure.

Alright, this didn’t necessarily surprise me. I understand that many cultures eat prawn. That does not change the fact that after multiple encounters with this particular food item I still have no idea how I am expected to consume it…

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All in all today was crazy. The day was solving one cultural puzzle after another, and I am physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. And I absolutely cannot wait to do it again tomorrow.

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