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Here you will find articles on an ambitious plan to travel from Singapore to Morocco overland, i.e. without flying.

I will use buses and trains to travel through South East Asia, China, Mongolia, Russia, and Europe.

Read about The Plan So Far.

Streets of Saigon and Vietnam Celebrates the Under 23 Semifinals

Written by Joshua Fuglsang on .

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AsiaTravelVietnam
A view of Saigon 10 stories up!
A view of Saigon 10 stories up! - Copy­right © Joshua Fuglsang

Touch Down

Stand­ing at the bag­gage carousel af­ter touch­ing down in Ho Chi Minh city, I hear a cheer near­by. This cheer is echoed by an­oth­er fur­ther away. Not think­ing much of it, I con­tin­ue to wait for my bag­gage. Soon af­ter there is an­oth­er, this one even loud­er than be­fore. Not know­ing what is hap­pen­ing, I ask the la­dy that sat next to me on the plane what was go­ing on. She sim­ply said that they were hap­py about the soc­cer, ev­i­dent­ly an­noyed at the com­mo­tion that they were caus­ing, I didn’t ques­tion her fur­ther.

Man selling Vietnamese flags to soccer fans
Man sell­ing Viet­namese flags to soc­cer fans - Copy­right © Joshua Fuglsang

Soon enough I am on the bus to the city, but not with­out dra­ma as the tick­et sales­man tried to charge me ten times the price for the bus fare. You see the Viet­namese cur­ren­cy us­es huge de­nom­i­na­tions. At the time of writ­ing $1 AUD is worth around 18,000 Viet­namese Dong. I had re­searched this scam ear­li­er, so re­alised that he was try­ing to rip me off. In my case the tick­et sell­er tried to charge me 200,000 for a 20,000 dong bus fare. Soon the bus en­tered the main road and we were sur­round­ed by huge num­bers of Viet­namese on scoot­ers. The vol­ume of scoot­ers steadi­ly in­creased as we got clos­er and clos­er to the city. They too were cel­e­brat­ing the soc­cer; the whole city was cel­e­brat­ing. What had hap­pened was the Viet­namese had got­ten to the fi­nals in the Un­der 23s Asia Cup for the first time in his­to­ry. The bus had slowed to a crawl as we were en­gulfed by thou­sands of scoot­ers, mo­tor­bikes, and SU­Vs. Each car­ry­ing rid­ers bear­ing the Viet­namese flag; a sin­gle yel­low star on a field of red.

Soccer Celebrations

An intersection completely flooded with soccer fans
An in­ter­sec­tion com­plete­ly flood­ed with soc­cer fans - Copy­right © Joshua Fuglsang

As soon as I had found a ho­tel I hit the streets with my cam­era, cap­tur­ing a slice of the ex­cite­ment that had over­tak­en the city of 8.5 mil­lion. Through the night the cel­e­bra­tions con­tin­ued; thou­sands of young men and wom­en par­tied in to the wee hours of the night. They were danc­ing on the back of scoot­ers, blared mu­sic from the back of trucks, bore thou­sands of flags, and con­duct­ed an or­ches­tra­tor of horns, cheers, and trum­pets. I was sur­round­ed by a sea of red flags, yel­low stars, and the strong scent of fu­el. Nev­er be­fore had I seen so many peo­ple in com­plete ec­sta­sy, it was a fan­tas­tic in­tro­duc­tion to Viet­nam and I was thrilled to be a part of their his­toric cel­e­bra­tions.

Saigon Streets

A famous street in Saigon for picking up Vintage wares
A fa­mous street in Saigon for pick­ing up Vin­tage wares - Copy­right © Joshua Fuglsang

Over the next few days I ex­plored the city. I vis­it­ed a few tourists sites, but that wasn’t re­al­ly my thing. I have been try­ing to de­fine what trav­el­ling is to me, and I don’t think wait­ing for ev­ery mem­ber of a tour bus to take a self­ie with a ran­dom mon­u­ment is re­al­ly it. So, rather than try­ing to check off an itin­er­ary list com­piled by some­one that I’ll nev­er meet with com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent tastes to me, I hit the streets on foot. I roamed through the war­ren of al­ley ways with cam­era in hand, cap­tur­ing the dai­ly life of Ho Chi Minh city. I took pho­to­graphs of lane ways, scoot­er swarms, di­lap­i­dat­ed shacks, colo­nial french man­sions, ul­tra-mod­ern sky scrap­ers, and Viet­namese peo­ple go­ing about their dai­ly lives.

Man sleeps on scooter!
Man sleeps on scoot­er! - Copy­right © Joshua Fuglsang

A ma­jor draw­card of be­ing in Viet­nam is the food, de­scribed by Lone­ly Plan­et as be­ing the best in South East Asia, though “Thai­land May Scoff”. Vis­it­ing Ho Chi Minh is just the very start of my culi­nary trip and so on­ly had the time to sam­ple a few of their sig­na­ture dish­es. None­the­less I tried phos, baguettes, stews, and an ar­ray of dif­fer­ent fruit shakes. A pleas­ant dis­cov­ery was the French in­flu­ence on the Viet­namese cui­sine, here you can find de­li­cious orig­i­nal French food cook­ing fused with a Asian spin, a me­men­to to the French oc­cu­pa­tion of Viet­nam which last­ed al­most for one hun­dred years and end­ed in the 1950’s.

Elderly man wearing full army outfit with an elderly women
El­der­ly man wear­ing full army out­fit with an el­der­ly wom­en - Copy­right © Joshua Fuglsang

One tourist site that I did vis­it was the Bi­tex­co Fi­nan­cial tow­er, an ar­chi­tec­tural mas­ter­piece in­spired by a Lo­tus; Viet­nam’s na­tion­al flow­er, as I want­ed a pho­to of the sprawl­ing me­trop­o­lis named Saigon and Ho Chi Minh city. I coughed up $10 AUD to catch the lift up to the view­ing deck and pho­tographed the city in a gloomy haze.

Fin!

I left Saigon on my fourth day of vis­it­ing the city by train, bound for Nha Trang. You can read about that here.

Thanks for read­ing! Please sub­scribe if you en­joyed the piece.

Tags

AsiaTravelVietnam

About

Here you will find articles on an ambitious plan to travel from Singapore to Morocco overland, i.e. without flying.

I will use buses and trains to travel through South East Asia, China, Mongolia, Russia, and Europe.

Read about The Plan So Far.