Laptop Lifestyle Says Yes to Travel and Adventure
Greetings from wild and whacky Saigon (in Vietnam of course)!
Even though the communist government here mandated that Saigon be called Ho Chi Min City (Ho Chi Min was the father of this communist state), the reality is that the locals still call it Saigon.
After the fall of South Vietnam to the victorious communists from the north, the swashbuckling Saigon was finally tamed, but only for a while.
After several years of communism it became apparent to the government in Hanoi that it was a failing experiment, particularly in the South. So they shifted to a Chinese style capitalist system, gradually at first, but in a more aggressive fashion in 1990.
Their decision to move towards a more capitalistic system was no doubt spurred by the intransigence of the south to fully comply with the dictats of the bureacratic north.
On a superficial level at least, markets rule in Saigon. Certainly this city of 10 million people has hoards of people who are hustling for a buck (or a Dong).
Some westerners can’t stand the free spirited approach that thesetraders take. But I like it a lot, except when you get ripped off, which happened to me this very day (to the tune of $200 – ah well).
And I love the fact that you can live very cheaply here. Food is cheap and very tasty. In fact there is a dazzling array of eating options – something for everyone!
Another thing I really like about it is the French influence. Lots of wide, tree lined streets are one of the legacies the French left when they ceased to be colonial masters back in 1954.
Another legacy – the buildings in the city centre. Magnifique!
Finally there is the French influence on the food scene. Coffee shops and pattiseries proliferate. The humble French baguet is sold from street vendors on almost every street corner. And quality French restaurants can be found by doing a simple Google search.
Wish I could say something positive about the American influence here. Cynics would say the Americans left 2 legacies: millions of orphans, and fast food. However in the interest of fairness and balance it should also be said that the United States has played an important role in the economy before the communists took power, and also in recent times – through economic and technical aid, and trade.
I’m off to the Meekong Delta tommorow for a few days!
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