Saigon, Viet Nam
If you thought Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City, technically you would be right, but it is still called Saigon. And, correctly, Viet Nam is two words, not one. The things you learn when you travel.
The people tended to have very large families, but now the government mandates that couples can only have two children. It is against the law to tell the mother the sex of the baby because they all want boys and the population was getting out of balance. (Boys bring luck and they are old-fashioned and very superstitious.)
You can’t talk about Saigon without saying something about motorbikes. I have never seen anything like it. If there are 6 million people in Saigon, there have to be 4 million motorbikes. I could not get a photo that captures the jaw-dropping multitude of the two-wheeled traffic in Saigon. It went on as far as your eye could see and extended in every direction, with bikes going this way and that.
We saw families of four on them, babies being fed, kids sleeping, reading—it’s almost as if they live on them. And forget crosswalks—you just go for it and somehow you don’t get hit.
We visited a noodle house and slurped Phô, Viet Nam’s famous dish. It is pronounced like fur without the r at the end. It is like mac ‘n cheese in that it is an everyday comfort food, but it is a rich broth with rice noodles and fresh herbs. Delicious, but as it turned out, loaded with MSG. My ankles look like elephant legs.
We spent some time in the Mekong Delta, which is a very big, silty river with many small tributaries. Thoughts about our troops that fought and died here 40 years ago were heavy on our minds. Their spirits are still very much here.
We have crossed the equator and are back in the northern hemisphere. Now we are heading up the South China Sea (which the Vietnamese call the East Sea because they want nothing to do with China) toward Da Nang and the north of Viet Nam.