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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Dispatch From Saigon



I'm writing this inside our $12 room in Saigon. My brother is already snoring and sleeping soundly, while I just had the urge to write something. This is our last night on a journey that has taken us from Saigon - Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in Cambodia and back again in Ho Chi Minh. It was a trip that finally morphed my childhood fascination of seeing Angkor Wat - into a reality. By tomorrow, this epic on the road experience will total 8 days, one of my longest so far, in terms of traveling in between my day job.

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While I enjoyed every second of our trip and the bonding opportunity I had with my older brother, in spite of a few times of getting pissed at each other, mostly arguing about which direction to go to, when exploring a strange city for the first time together, I am also looking forward to coming home. I feel like I have a lot of stories to write about this trip in the coming days.

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Saigon or known today as Ho Chi Minh city has been a part of my childhood memory, eversince movies like "Platoon", "Apocalypse Now" and "Full Metal Jacket" became a staple of war movies shown on TV. I finally had the chance to see the modern day Ho Chi Minh. In a time where it is around 35 years removed from the brutal era of the Vietnam War.

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I am pleased with what I've seen so far in this city. It's bustling and on the verge of breaking out, if it hasn't already. The tourists that flocks the city, its rows of hostels and hotels, travel booking offices is a testament that it has became quite a hot spot for tourism. I was thinking when I woke up from a guesthouse ran by an elderly couple, after my first night, that "waking up and exploring a strange city that is slowly becoming familiar makes traveling addicting"

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And Saigon provides that experience. With its seemingly endless parade of motorcycles and wide choices of foods and friendly people. One will never feel they've left home, rather Ho Chi Minh city portrays that home away from home kind of place.

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It feels great to be able to finally mutter to myself, even in the worst Robin Williams impersonation, "Good Morning Vietnam" while actually being right here in Vietnam, in a city that has seen its share of war, brutality and destruction, but has now able to transform itself into this city that attracts people from across the globe and provides them a strange yet familiar place one can never find any difficulty in calling it as 'home'.



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