Peace out Phnom Penh, Hello Ho Chi Minh City & GOOD MORNING VIETNAM!
What can I say, other than … GOOD MORNING VIETNAM!!! I had a most horrific sleep of I don’t know, let’s just throw out hmm say 5 hours? I woke up, half asleep in some kind of day dream, wondering where the h3ll am I? Oh yeah, I’m in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam aka Saigon for you “old schoolah’s”. Also, now when I leave Vietnam I can say things like “When I was in Nam” hahaha.
First, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam has the craziest traffic I have ever seen, it has like 90 million people and I think all of them are on motor bikes at all times, seriously. I mean until you have been here, you have no idea. NO IDEA!!! I thought Bangkok was crazy, ha, it’s nothing. That said, Phnom Penh is crazier than Bangkok. I saw things like ladies yelling at dogs and the dogs jump up on the scooter and sit behind the lady as she bombs through traffic. This place is ALIVE with lights everywhere, constantly stuff going on despite the ~midnight curfew (I know, buzz kill). Crossing the road requires aggressive patience. You have to be patient for an opening but aggressive enough to take it or you will never, ever cross the road. It’s organized mayhem, it’s majestic.
I took the bus yesterday, yes? I sat around until I had 25 minutes until the bus came, ran to my guest house, packed like a rabid rob and rolled down the stairs into the foyer. I buy a ticket and she says “you’re late, take a moto taxi, NOW”. I say “sure”. this moto guy was mad, I would have gotten his number, it was fun, it was a trip.
As I’m sitting in the bus, I ‘m like I DO NOT WANT to leave Phnom Penh, I love it there. It’s just… I knew exactly what I’d be doing for the next few weeks had I stayed, all my friends who have been there, you know exactly what I’d be doing. Just hanging out… It’s “all good” but I feel like moving on. THAT SAID, Phnom Penh, Cambodia is on my top 5 places to relocate for say a winter of work, cheap everything and pure chilling. I even sheepishly asked the bus driver to stop the bus haha. Ok, back to Vietnam.
So yeah, roll out of bed and hit downstairs, this place I’m at is pretty pimp for $10US a night, yo that’s $300US a month BEFORE negotiating a long term rate, sick, yes? Anyways the wifi blows and isn’t steady but next door is. I go next door and they are full. I pay for the next night (reserving) in exchange for their wifi, so I’m using their wifi now and move tomorrow, I’m proud of myself.
I find this place that fixes iphones / ipod touches, then go to this place to get my cam fixed, since it’s not a licensed whatever I figure I’ll shop around a bit. That’s when I meet “Mr or Captain X”. He’s a moto taxi guy. Let me tell you how I met the next charismatic character in this most jovial journey.
I’m smoking a fag and enjoying some freshly squeezed OJ for breakfast, he comes over and is like “want moto” I’m like No but kinda one of those “no but maybe?!?” so he keeps kinda hanging around and comes over… I see him chain smoking and already like the guy, then he shows me this book. THE BOOK.
The book was actually 3 books, with maybe 100 testimonials in different hand writing and languages that he’s legit. Most people also leave their email. Most emails say “Hey, I bet you met Captain X somewhere in Saigon, he approached you, you were hesitant, chill out it’s all good and then goes on to say what they did together”. He offers tours of the city and exclusive tours of the Mekong Delta which involve eating King Cobra, drinking snake blood, having your own boat with him and a guide for 3 days or 5 days through islands, fishing, anything you want really. He knows the area very well and I even took some of the peoples emails, but there were so many people writing stuff and the dates, I’m sold and I got a good vibe.
After sorting out the camera by finally finding a licensed canon dealer, we sit down and drink some coffee and I read more of the book. Turns out he loves to smoke and drink coffee, I will quit one day but for now, my kinda guy. The book has countless stories all basically the same. He approaches you, you go with him, he shows you everything, he drives safe. He does drive safe, he does speak decent English and was pretty cool.
Since my camera was in the shop, we went to his house to borrow his camera but couldn’t get it working. I met his wife and his daughter and his grand kid. His daughter married a Welsh man, that’s pretty cool if you know my roots.
I sit there, have a smoke, drink ice coffee and eat dried ginger and mangos. He drives me home (doesn’t ask for anything) I take his number and tell him I will call him tomorrow. Once I get my camera I am going to go on a tour around the city with him, for sure. On a side note, some of them were even solo women travelers. I have LOTS of respect for women who do this solo, as a guy it’s one thing, as a woman it’s definitely more intense.
After that ran into these 2 Brits I met on the bus, go to the War Remnants Museum. That place is creepy and some of the stuff done to Vietnam is horrendous. The US dropped 100 million litres of dioxins on the country(mainly agent orange). 85 grams of “Agent Orange” in a water supply could kill a city up to 8 million people. All the mutated kids and stuff it was sad, since going I’m noticing more and more people with defects. I recommend going, it’s not pleasant but I’m glad I went.
Lots of photos of just pure carnage and cruelty like dragging people behind tanks, disemboweling children, killing whole villages, marines holding beheaded people, burning people alive with napalm(photo below). This is a #!$!#$ed up world we live in, seriously. I just can’t get my head around some of the stuff that I saw. Horrendous stuff and the worst part is the number of civilians that were killed, atrocious.
It’s also weird how back home, where nothing like this has happened… People walk around with $1000 outfits, $800 iphones and drive $50,000 cars from their $350,000 “first home” to their 5, 6 or 7 figure job with a frown on their face… Also, people don’t smile because their teeth aren’t “perfect”. Here? You see people with very little and the worst dental hygiene ever smiling and just being happy. I laugh more with strangers in Asia than anywhere I’ve ever been, I love laughing, so do they. Like I said last post, life is actually simple, it’s too bad as humans we’ve made it so hard for ourselves…
When you start to think of the cost of war, you start to realize that everyone is basically a peasant. I mean where do these hundreds of billions and trillions go? Really? Where do they end up and who or what “controls” it?!? If you go to war and a country spends 780 billion dollars on weapons, does that go to privately held weapons manufacturers? I think so, where does that money go? Also with that kind of money, what kind of “pots can you stir” to further enhance the demand for your “products”? It’s messed up, the world is like an onion with 99% of the population thinking they know it all, when in reality, they are just the skin on the outside with so many bitter layers below.
Now? It’s almost 8pm, I’m chilling in my guest house about to take a shower. After that I’m going to chill out until I get a knock on my door to go out and have a late night snack with my British friends.
I’ve been told it’s Monday, let’s hope the market has a most magnificent melt up, shredding the sordid scowls off the faces of those seedy short sellers, indeed.