I have been asked to produce a Saigon City guide for a travel website. At first this seemed rather simple, I’ve been living here for the past 8 months and have gotten to know the city very well. However, living in a city and visiting a city are very different experiences; I live here now and seldom do touristy things. In fact, as a resident in Saigon, I try to stay away from touristy things much like when I was a resident in NYC!
So in order to prepare for the city guide gig, I thought I better try to do a few more touristy things around Saigon. I traveled through Saigon 2 years ago and already did all of the standard tourist stops – the War Museum, the Reunification Palace, Ben Thanh Market, Backpacker district, the Zoo, Cu Chi Tunnels, Cao Dai Temple, Mekong Delta Tour; so I was determined to find a tourist activity I hadn’t already participated in. I decided upon the tour that oozed tourist – the cyclo tour. However since I live in District 1 near all of the typical tourist sites (as noted above), I felt like I wanted to see a different area so I chose a cyclo tour of District 5 (also called Cholon) and District 8. I grabbed my friend Josefin, who has only lived here 3 months, and she came with me early on Sunday morning.
We dressed the part – we had our cameras, hats (no, not the conical ones…I didn’t take the tourist role THAT far!), sunscreen, and bottles of water. I had been given the name of a good cyclo driver, Binh (or Ben for the Vietnamese challenged) and did tours through District 5 and 8. Plus, I was told that his English was pretty good. I called him earlier in the week to set up a meeting point and negotiate price. His English was certainly good enough and he seemed very organized and reliable, a rarity in Vietnam!
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