Arrived yesterday, and had time for a long walk, a good meal, and for a nasty bronchial sinus thing to fully develop. A very different city than Ha Noi, this one is clearly a lot bigger, richer, more “westernized” and corporatized. Billboards everywhere, and that seemingly universal imperative, shopping (for the same corporate logo items, high and low end: Armani Chanel Pierre Cardin Vuitton Gucci and down lower Nike etc.) Likewise the newer architecture is generic big city. Marcella commented that it seemed a bit like LA – a run down version for sure, and having been there I’d say more Manila (which I thought had LA-like areas). The traffic is thick with motorbikes though they drive in much more orderly manner than in Ha Noi. My off-the-cuff view is that I prefer Hanoi, which is distinctive in its architecture, in the layout of the urban texture, and seems far less overwhelmed by global capitalism’s tastes and dictates. Of course Hue was more so, but it is a village by comparison.
Anyway we have 4 full days to wander the by-ways of Saigon/HCM before heading back to the comparatively hyper-modernism of Seoul. More to come.