Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City or as it was previously called - Saigon is the biggest city in Vietnam. It lies in the southern part of the country and it was out first encounter with Asia. It welcomed us with billboards, just like I remember them from Yugoslavian children's book or some old photos. It's all about the colours, the way is it painted and of course, there is always the face of the leader on the billboard!

Another propaganda in Saigon

We were also very surprised by the number of  churches that we saw in Saigon. Actually we saw more churches than temples! Reason for that? Well, Vietnam used to be under French rule and with French people also catholic religion came to this part of the world. Before that Vietnam was of course Buddhist country. Nowadays Vietnamese people are mostly atheists or they declare themselves as followers of certain religion, but they don't practice it regularly. All of this is of course the result of the socialistic regime in the country.

 Notre Dame cathedral in Saigonu

As a tourist in Asia, you can't get by not being shocked my the number of motorcycles on the streets. The reason for that is high taxation of the cars. So motorcycles are far more affordable for local people. I don't really want to waste my time here speaking about the manners of the drivers and how (un)safe it is. But still, I have to write a few words: everybody drives his motorcycle just where (s)he wants. Everybody is speeding, zig-zaging past trucks, buses, cars, pedestrians ... in most cases they manage get away without any injuries or accidents. We were advised by other travelers:
when crossing the street, just don't stop. You need to keep on walking. Motorcyclists will bypass you, if you will keep your pace while walking. As soon as you stop, you confuse them. Then they don't know, when and in which direction you will make your next step, and so they will reduce their speed. So the drivers behind will try to overtake them ... and the traffic incident is unavoidable. 
Luckily we crossed all the roads safely! In the most touristic part of the city there was even a policeman, waiting for tourists to gather at one side of the street and then he walked us over to the other side. Waw, I mean, that was really impressive, how well they take care of their visitors! 

(Motor)cyclists actually overflow the streets
Rush hour in Saigon!
Practically everybody on the street wars a face mask. First I was confused: why do they wear them? Are there any infectious diseases spreading around? Should I be worried? Well, they explained us that it's due to the very polluted air in the city. Those face masks are now like a fashion accessory. You can buy them in all colours and shapes. From plain surgically green masks to colourful masks with different superheroes, pop-starts, or even in the shape of bunny's or bear's mouth! Even I bought one face mask for myself! Not the one with animals mouth on it, but a warm one for my winter cycling back home in Ljubljana.

I highly recommend it! :)

Typical Vietnamese cyclist: colourful helmet and a face mask



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