Chicken on tour: Ho Chi Minh City

2 Aug

20130802-161642.jpg

The first thing that hits you is always the smell. That damp, perfumed heat. Asia.
That aroma greeted me on arrival in Ho Chi Minh City airport the other day.

My journey from the airport to my hotel was a rapid introduction to this frenetic city, formally known as Saigon. The chaotic traffic. Cars trying to pierce their way through the swarms of mopeds. The constant horns blaring. The smell of food cooking on the street side and vendors selling every imaginable good.

My first few days in the city were a blur of mixed up sleep patterns and jetlag. On the second night I did the Saigon Street Eats seafood tour run by a very nice couple Barbara and Vu. They take you to a ‘Snail Street’. The Vietnamese call all crustaceans snails and this street specialised in them!

We ate sea-snails cooked in butter sauce, scallops with green onion and crispy pork fat, mussels, and incredible clams in a fragrant lemongrass broth (pic below). There was also a wasabi oyster at one point. I may not rush back for that.

20130802-162504.jpg

In terms of the sights of Ho Chi Minh city. A few musts are the War Remnants Museum and the Cu Chi tunnels. The museum has some of the Vietnam War’s military hardware on show but also an extensive collection of photographs that portray the conflict and its aftermaths.

20130802-164351.jpg

Another very interesting place to visit are the Cu Chi tunnels (above), which are about an hour and a half out of the city. They were used as hiding places by the Cu Chi rebels. We got to go through a 100m stretch of the tunnels (widened twice to allow for western bodies I am told) and my word, they were cramped. Also extremely warm down there. It was like bikram crouching yoga! The whole complex again allows you to see firsthand the varying barbs of the conflict. From the traps used by the rebels, to the tunnels and their various roles as well as the weaponry used by the Americans. You can also fire real, live guns if that’s something that tickles your fancy.

Ben Thanh Market (seen below) in the city is also worth a wander through. You can get everything from coffee to clothing and a lot in between!

20130802-163310.jpg

Highlights:

Food area: Ben Thanh Market (at night the streets around it become a row of restaurants)

Best dish: The clams in lemongrass broth on the seafood tour.

Best beer: Saigon (green label)

Best attraction: Cu Chi tunnels.

Next stop: Nha Trang.

P.S. I’m blogging from an iPad on these travels. So apologies if the posts are a little less polished then normal!