HCMC Dining Guide

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Good Morning, Vietnam!

The view from my hotel room.
As soon as we hit the outskirts of Saigon Sunday night, it became clear that we would be dealing with an entirely different beast in comparison to Phnom Penh. Major streets have barriers down the middle to prevent people from turning across lanes of oncoming traffic whenever they please. Neon lights flash on almost every corner. The traffic, both motorbike and car, is denser and more agressive. There are no unpaved roads. High-rise buildings abound, including this 68-story monster that will be the tallest skyscraper in the country upon completion.

You can hear construction almost anywhere you go, and food from every part of the world is easy to find. Signs of extreme wealth are also easier to spot: a Rolls-Royce dealership, and an Aston Martin and Bentley crusing down the street, for example. Saigon is clearly a proper, buzzing, metropolis, whereas Phnom Penh is more like a large town. I'm very happy about that.
The food has been incredible so far, especially this traditional Vietnamese breakfast of Pho served at my hotel.
Food is absurdly cheap as well, with most places charging around 30,000-40,000 dong per meal, which is about $1.20. Of course, there are places where you can drop American levels of money, as I learned at an excellent Filipino-owned jazz club last night. I can't wait to have some time to go exploring, since the city is huge and there is so much to do. I started practice teaching yesterday, and it's been OK so far. I entertained my class today with a stirring rendition of Sweet Caroline, so there will certainly be fun moments. Apartment and job hunting will begin in the next few days, and I'm already really looking forward to spending my year (maybe more?) in bustling Saigon.


  1. Sounds like fun. I'm gonna have to find a way to visit you. maybe after i graduate in December and have a real job ill come over there. Or maybe if i cant find a job in the states ill come teach in Viet Nam. Im sure they could use another 6 foot somethin white guy over there.

  2. Yea tall white guys are always appreciated. But definitely try to visit, once I'm set up in an apartment (hopefully by the end of next weekend) visitors are welcome.