Friday, January 3, 2014

hue / hoi an / saigon

The second half of our Vietnam trip continued much like the first. Some interesting sight-seeing, and lots of beautiful, delicious food. (I should take more photos of the food, but then I’d turn into a food-picture-taker and annoy myself.)

Hue was the most disappointing place on our trip through Vietnam. We were there near Christmas, I think, and much of the night was spent trying to sleep through weird techno versions of Christmas classics like “Last Christmas, I gave you my heart…” Not a fun way to spend an evening when you’re old and tire easily like us.
moody skies and old palaces

Still, we had fun walking all over the city, and exploring the crumbling ruins of the old imperial palace. I only have a few moody photos from this place, including this one.

Hoi An hosted some of our best eating experiences. Sweet vegetarian Vietnamese food, delicious banh mi (a cross between French baguettes and Vietnamese flavors), and cheap/yummy street food like cao lao (noodles and pork dish).

The city was super walkable, so we meandered all over the place. The whole downtown area is a UNESCO heritage site full of restored buildings from Hoi An’s time as a major trade port. Of course, one of the most fun things we found was a table full of foreign money. Why? We are nerds, and went through the whole table, row by row, determining which country each bill represented.

Still, there were some beautiful examples of old Vietnamese architecture, too, which we enjoyed between friend bananas and coconut and cheap beers. We were sad to leave Hoi An when it was time to go.

After a 14-hour train ride (and we felt every single hour!), we made it to our last stop in Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City… perhaps better known as Saigon.

I have no photos from Saigon, but it is a bustling and chaotic place. I likened Saigon to Manhattan, and Hanoi to Brooklyn. We preferred Brooklynesque Hanoi, but like Manhattan, Saigon had its charms.

Our few days in Saigon were filled with Starbucks, lots of walking, and some interesting history museum exhibits. The most horrible was the War Remnants Museum, which is focused on the Vietnam War. The exhibits were brutal and graphic, very anti-American, and pretty unsettling. The language and photos were very one-sided. I’m not saying that the Vietnam War was a good decision or that American troops behaved well, but war is brutal on both sides, and the museum did not represent this at all. I think it’d make an interesting area of study for a rhetoric or history class. There’s the teacher in me – can’t turn her off!

In the end, we were sad to leave Vietnam. The country had been easy to navigate, full of friendly people, and one of the best eating periods of my life. We’ll definitely be back.

Our next stop was Cambodia… Will post on this soon. Happy new year, everyone!

Note: most of the photos are posted on facebook


  1. A belated Happy New Year ! Keep posting, we love hearing from you! Wow 14 hours on a train, how often can you get up to stretch your legs? Looking forward to hearing about Cambodia. Much Love, Dad R

  2. all fab and feel free to post photos of food :)