London/Bangkok - Bangkok/Ho Chi Minh City

Nothing just nothing prepares you for your arrival and first ride around Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Eight million people live here and most have a motorbike or scooter. They swarm like ants and cars, buses and lorries sound their horns constantly in the sticky heat. Everything comes from all directions and often in the opposite way to the direction they should be going. Pavements are fair game too. At a red light several hundred bunch up to roar off at the first glimpse of green. Crossing a road is an art in itself. “Just walk slowly but purposefully and they will go round you” we were told! It does work. We tried it.

Later in the day we got a Cyclo which is a push bike ridden by a local pushing a single wheeled seat. Turning right through the masses of buses, cars and bikes must have been one of the most dangerous things we’ve ever done.

It’s a great place and we instantly loved the atmosphere. The currency – the Vietnamese Dong – 340,000 to the pound is confusing and we took a million Dong from the ATM on the first day. But it’s great value I.e. a meal for two plus drinks is about £12.

We met up with the other members our small group we are travelling with for drinks in town. The senses get hammered here. Scooters piled high with goods fly up and down, often with 3 and even 4 people on them and Mum sits side saddle with a babe in arms as they weave in and out of the traffic. A boy of about eight did a fire eating act for us in the middle of the road and when we didn’t respond to that he tried to impress us by swallowing razor blades. You constantly get hassled by beggars and small children selling trinkets. This is the place where Communism meets Capitalism.

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