Trip Report/Impressions- Saigon

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by tristanbaldwin, Jan 4, 2017.

  1. Despardo

    Despardo Count

    More motorbikes than I thought existed. They do try not to hit you, but it is unnerving. Don't know how Starbucks can compete with Highland Coffee (the local chain.) Yes, Siem Reap is terrific! So is Phnom Penh. Don't pass up Cambodia if you are in the region.
    tristanbaldwin likes this.
  2. trav05

    trav05 Master

    Hanoi has about 650,000 cars and 5 million motor bikes. Crossing the street in Vietnam is a national sport.
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  3. We've been hanging out a bit in the backpacker district, forgot what it's called, but cabs seem to know where you want to go regardless of pronounciation. Apparently English is mandatory from elementary school on up, but the disparity in quality between rural schools and urban schools differs greatly.

    We did a private tour- the two of us with one guide, up to the Chu Chi tunnels and the Mekong, and it was fantastic...our young Twink guide's English was the best of anyone we've encountered in Vietnam. tourism and guide services is actually a profession studied in college over here- and whatever role these people have in society, they take it to the fullest. Really a fascinating place.

    We head up to Nha Trang to surf tomorrow, for 3 days, then Hanoi. And you're right- these people are pretty forgiving considering what we did here...since in the grand scheme of things, was Vietnam really that strategic of a place to fight over? Or just another square on the monopoly board of freedom vs democracy?

    My thesis paper is MS 302 was on Vietnam as a testing bed for technology; not strategic importance. (Helicoptor/Air Mobile Assault; composite weapons and the M-16; combating guerrila warfare, the air to air missle replacing ' gunfighter 'airplanes, etc.
    bigvalboy and trav05 like this.
  4. WilliamM

    WilliamM Regent

    I still have two very close Army friends from my year in Vietnam. I wish I had a few more, but it did not happen. My friend from St. Louis was a grunt; I can not imagine him ever going back. My friend from the state of Washington was civic action specialist did go back. Of the three of us. I was the only one who was drafted. Most days during my year in Vietnam, I wondered how I let myself get into this situation. With due respect, Mike, I know only too well
    that it's not the country that our service men saw in the 60s.
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  5. gallahadesquire

    gallahadesquire Marquess

    Or Pu239 ...
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  6. mike carey

    mike carey Duke

    Actually I was setting out the approach I would take to a trip there. As someone who served there during the war, I would assume you had come to the conclusion that much, or even everything, has changed since you were there, so I was certainly not directing the comment to you. I would not presume to offer you, or any other vet, gratuitous advice on the topic. Plenty of Australian Vietnam vets visit the country and at times the visits make the news here (for good reasons, raising money for a school or orphanage and the like).
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  7. Despardo

    Despardo Count

    Most of the cars on the street belong to wealthy people or else are company cars or taxicabs. Due to import fees, automobiles are prohibitively expensive for the local population. A Toyota Camry will run you $75,000 which is the price of a modern house in
    Viet Nam. Motorbikes, and these are mostly nice new ones (Yamaha and the like,) run less than $5,000 new, which is affordable. I am thankful they all have mufflers, otherwise the buildings would crumble. I am also thankful that they are not cars given the sheer number of them. On balance, the arrangement seems to work quite well. Serious accidents rarely occur in the cities because the traffic can't move very fast. Horrible fatalities occur outside the cities on country roads. The motorbikes in Cambodia, a much less developed country, are Chinese made and generally 2nd to 5th hand and look it. Hey, they are cheap. Also, they supply the structural base upon which a variety of other interesting vehicles can be built.
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  8. We've encountered two tourists from Europe in just as many days with bandages on their arms and legs by getting clipped by bikers zipping was carrying construction materials on her back and it scratched this German girl pretty good.

    Methinks the foreigners don't understand that in their own countries, pedestrians have the right of way. Here....not so much lol.
    Despardo, bigvalboy, trav05 and 3 others like this.
  9. whipped guy

    whipped guy Regent

    Well we've all know that Tristan is "streetwise" ... LOL! Streetwise and then some! With any luck he will safely negotiate the streets of Nam and return to us unscathed!
    borgerback and bigvalboy like this.
  10. TruthBTold

    TruthBTold Peer

    This is a way off the road question. What sort of country do you think Vietnam would be to retire to? If the cost of living is low (including buying a home) is it possible? Are any of the large cities on the ocean, bay, or some other water?
  11. trav05

    trav05 Master

    Cost wise its great. There are a few areas that would be ok for retirement. But weather is more extreme than most of the rest of SE Asia. Very hot in the south. (Saigon). In the north, very hot summers and very cold winters. (Hanoi)
    Central part of the country is subject to lots of typhoons and lots of flooding. My BF family lives about 8 hours south of Hanoi and have had to rebuild housing 3 of the last 4 years due to flooding.

    There is basically no gay life in Vietnam. Hanoi has 1 bar that is mixed. Vietnamese don't really use the word homosexual. But times are changing. If you use gay apps, more and more crowded every day. The government is starting to show signs of change , economy and socially wise. The younger generations are changing things socially very quickly.

    We spend time visiting there, but we live in Bangkok, which is much better for retirement now. Vietnam will get there, but needs a bit more time. Still many Vietnamese come to the rest of SE Asia looking for work.
  12. Despardo

    Despardo Count

    You would need to check out the immigration or long term resident policies of the Vietnam government. On the face of it, it would be a good country for retirement--an attractive blend of modern and traditional. Many cities are on the water. Nha Trang is a major resort --gorgeous beach front, cruise ships, high rise resort hotels. More flashy than charming--think Miami beach. Very popular with Russian tourists (easy to spot, since they are the only people not smiling)--direct flights from Moscow. Danang is the most coveted place to live in Viet Nam--on the ocean (China Beach,) very modern and quite upscale. It boasts a superb museum of Cham sculpture (second only to the National Museum in Phenom Penh) and of course the famous Dragon Bridge which is very cool (it breathes fire!) Only problem with Danang is that the weather is sweltering hot in the summertime. Hue (the ancient capital) has a lot more charm--I liked it much better than Hanoi. Dalat up in the mountains is very nice and boasts a cooler climate (not on the water.) One could do much worse than to live in Viet Nam--friendly people, rich culture, fabulous food, modern amenities, English widely spoken. Next to Thailand, Viet Nam is the most developed country in South East Asia. Money goes a very long way.
    tristanbaldwin likes this.
  13. Lance_Navarro


    We hung out with some ex-pats in Hanoi. The husband was the brother of one of my partner's clients. He retired, moved there then met and married a Vietnamese woman. They operate a side business in tourism. We went to their place for dinner, it was a nice 2 story home on a decent sized lot in which they grew some vegetables as well as pot. They had a housekeeper who worked 9-1 Mon-Fri to whom they paid $50/week, which was actually good money there.

    They also connected us with a massage therapist they see weekly (female, strictly therapeutic) who came to our hotel and did 2 - 1 hour massages for $16.

    It would be really inexpensive to retire there, however as mentioned the weather can be quite extreme.
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  14. Update for y'all coming shortly! Hanoi is CHAOS!
  15. Funguy

    Funguy Earl

    That's m'boy!
  16. Becket

    Becket Baron

    TB, You're the coolest crayon in the box. You can color my world anytime.
  17. rocky

    rocky Baron

    Thanks Jordan, job well done and great hearing from you, take it easy. Paul
    tristanbaldwin likes this.
  18. corymonroe

    corymonroe Master

    Enjoying the travelogue. It's not easy being a video diarist. Tristan seems like a natural. Would love to see Tristan and AJ co-anchor a day's activities. Would love to hear you guys talk about what it's like to travel together.
    tristanbaldwin and tyro like this.
  19. WilliamM

    WilliamM Regent

    I have forgotten what I previously wrote in this thread. Thinking long and hard about returning to Vietnam, it ultimately came down to my bad memories of the rainy season near Saigon, very hot day and rain at night. I have written before about visiting Australia three times and Japan once, so it was not the length of the flight to Saigon.

    Instead I went to the former Yugoslavia in 2013, specifically Bosnia, Croatia and Slovenia and earlier Russia by myself in 2005. I loved Bosnia and talked to residents of Sarajevo and Mostar often about the terrible 1990s there.

    Finally, it took me a long time to decide to actually post this message...
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2017
  20. Second coolest crayon! Don't forget yourself! We make some hot wax together!
    Becket likes this.