HCMC, Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, various names for only on city, the largest one in Vietnam. This time I am taking you to one of the most exotic countries I’ve ever had the pleasure to be in. Founded in 1698, it had already been capital of the French colony of Cochinchina, yes, it did exist, maybe that is why so many times we say, “…he/she went to Cochinchina”, isn’t it? (rsrsrsrs) Funny or not, it makes sense now! Well, in Cochinchina, I mean, Saigon, sorry, Ho Chi Minh, there are over nine million people, considering the metropolitan region. This number should get to about fourteen million people by 2025. It is a caos already, heavy insane traffic, pollution, e nothing safe to walk around. Some tourists I met had been robbed the day before when walking around. I confess this is one of the big cities in southeast Asia I always wanted to visit, but I got very disappointed by the lack of infrastructure and quality of life for the population. The social contrast is whopping too. The food though, wonderful! Considered to be one of the healthiest cuisine in the world. But hey, you have to like veggies, seeds, roots and soups, because they are the base for it all, and so very cheap. Now, the reason that took me to Saigon was always coming back to my mind that name “Saigon”, I believe from the movies I watched, I don’t know. It reminded me the Samurais, their strength, power, of their abilities, all of it got me very curious to go check Saigon up close. The name Saigon is still used nowadays to refer to the city, but, the official name is Ho Chi Minh, economic center of the country and representing, in my opinion and passion for architecture and design, by the Bitexco Financial Tower, from the renowned Venezuelan architect Carlos Zapata. This is the second highest building in the country, 68 floors high, almost 263 meters, inspired by the flower of Lotus, national symbol. In 2017 though, the Bitexco will lose its place to the Landmark 81. Now, getting out of the confusion that is Saigon and going to a more calm region and definitely paradisiac of the country, I traveled to the region of the Mekong Delta, in southeast Vietnam. It is there that the Mekong Delta River, flows in the sea by a series of estuaries forming a Delta. In this region you will find several island, each one with a particularity and interesting name, like Unicorn Island for example.
After navigating part of the Mekong River in a wooden boat, typical in the region, we were welcomed to a traditional vietnamese tea sweetened with honey collected in the very same island, with side of ginger biscuits and some seeds and roots. So very much simple, but indescribable flavors. After the tea we took a canoe guided and paddled by vietnamese women, all in traditional hats, through the Mekong River, where they form the Delta, to the large river. We then got back to the wooden boat and went to another island, full of curiosities and good food, a candy factory and lots of artisans works. The tour finished with the afternoon tea with side of the most exotic and flavorous fruits, accompanied by music and singing that made me feel like if I was in the most pacific place in the world. Visiting Vietnam was a sublime experience.