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Saigon: a City of Scooters, Culture and War

While living in Hong Kong from 2010-2012, I traveled to many different countries around Southeast Asia and wrote about a few of them in my then-blog, Ashley’s HK Experience. I’m reposting my piece on Vietnam (my trip was in October 2011) to my new blog as a travel piece. 

I’ve just returned from a 6-day/5-night trip to Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon in Vietnam.  What you call this city depends on where you’re from: Saigon if you’re from the south of Vietnam or Ho Chi Minh City if you’re basically from anywhere else.  Saigon was the official name until 1975 when the north and the south merged together, renaming this city Ho Chi Minh City after a famous leader from the north.

Scooters

Upon arrival to Vietnam, my friend Orlando and I were bombarded by the torrent of scooters flanking all parts of the city.  While there may be rules of the road here, they typically aren’t followed with motorbikes going both directions on 1 side of the street, families of 4 people riding on 1 scooter, people texting and talking on their phones, and having conversations with other motorists.  There are 5 million motorbikes in HCM; with a population of about 10,000,000, that’s 1 scooter for every 2 people!!  The population of motorists isn’t linked to one subset of people either: from grandmas, to 12 year olds, to sleeping babies, to business men in suits, and women in high heels and socks.  Scooters are everywhere!

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