The motorcycle city, as Vietnam was aptly described by our tour guide, was how I’d imagine old Singapore to be in the 70’s. Except, whereas we are now a booming success of a certain Mister Lee, Saigon seems to be a Humpty Dumpty egg – too broken to be fixed. Ironically, the country is famous for its broken eggshell paintings and handicraft.
I was silly to think that Vietnam would have nothing to offer. Saigon city is filled with life, culture and history – Even now, generations of Vietnamese are living with the effects of the United States’ herbicidal warfare efforts aka the effects of Agent Orange. Today, there are ‘peace villages’ in Vietnam helping those living with the effects of Agent Orange, but with over 200,000 victims affected by the herbicides, Vietnam spends a total of US$40.8 million a year on small monthly stipends.
Although the city itself seems to be teeming with life, its people constantly on the move on motorcycles, cars and buses, the country seems to be stuck in time. Music from the 70’s provided the soundtrack on the bus as we journeyed to the Cu Chi Tunnels with Hung (the tour guide), who proceeded to entertain us with his ability to greet in a variety of languages.
Good morning, Vietnam.
Chao buoi sang, Saigon.