I don't think one can every truly be prepared for the insanity that is Saigon, no matter how many times one reads the Lonely Planet guide or watches this video depicting the flow of traffic. It's dizzying and wonderful and quite possibly the worst place in the whole wide world to suffer a hangover.
We took a bus from Phu Quoc to Saigon, getting us into the city around 11pm. Please imagine us winding through the streets with our bags, wide-eyed, while scooters and taxis and bicycles carting dried fish dart around us. This place is nuts. I find myself laughing sometimes that I'm even here. There's so much to love about it (and probably a lot to hate about it too - more on that later, I'm sure). But first, the love! My most favorite Saigon things:
The little red chairs. All throughout the city, and especially on Bui Vien street where we're staying, you will see the teeniest plastic chairs dotting the sidewalks. This is where you eat your pho and drink your beer and play cards while you eat your pho and drink your beer. When you sit on these little red chairs there's an added benefit that you basically never need to get up. People come by selling everything - fruit, books, cigarettes, sunglasses, noodles, lighters, dried fish, whatever.
The women in pajamas. So most of the women here wear matching silk tops and bottoms, identical to the PJ sets in America. They are pajamas, but I guess they aren't because they wear them all day long. I actually don't think this is weird. It's pretty amazing and I'm jealous that as a society they've deemed it acceptable to wear pajamas all day. Why don't we do this? I keep asking where they come from, because I want to wear them too and I never see them for sale anywhere, and no one understands what I'm saying. They always think I want to buy a traditional kimono. Give me the silk PJssss!
The beer is 50 cents. The pho is $1-$2.
The scooters. This applies to the amount of scooters in the road and the way in which they weave in and out of traffic as if nothing is happening and as if their family of 4, including a sleeping baby, isn't on the back. I'm also positive the amount of things they fit on their scooter I could never in my life fit into my car, even if my car was a giant truck.
The street food. It's convenient, and really quite a life saver, that the most delicious food here happens to be the cheapest. It's cheap because it's served on the street, usually by way of a cart or maybe a giant pot sitting on an outdoor stove on the ground. It's not scary because food turnover is so fast and the meat, while it's sitting out in the sun, gets cooked up properly. Also: the fruit! I've never seen so many kinds of fruit and aside from mango, banana, and pineapple, I have no idea what any of them are. But I keep eating them anyway because they are colorful and the women selling them on nearly every street tell me I should.