Not that I hated Saigon, but it was a huge city with not a lot of history compared to cities in central and northern Vietnam. It was, more or less, a late 19th/early 20th century French creation. I was also doing my CELTA, which kept me very busy and was a bit soul crushing, and to be honest I am not 100% sure why I did it. I have been asked to write a piece about CELTA on teachthemenglish.com so I will save any opinions for that blog.
I was also living on Bui Vien, the backpacker ghetto of Saigon (Euro trash always look great in parachute pants and Chiang beer tank tops). I think these things combined to give me a rather negative first impression of Vietnam.
in the ghetto
However, I have to admit that when I did get away from Bui Vien I did enjoy Saigon. The food festival was great, as were some of the places Will and I visited north of District 1. The Reunification palace was cool too. It was the house of the Presidents of South Vietnam from 1964-1975. The place has been left untouched and I half expected Roger Moore to come walking around the corner. Saigon has a charm about it similar to other SE Asian megacities, but after three days in Danang I am sure that this city is where I would want to be if I lived in Vietnam long term. Anyway, a few pics of Reunification palace:
the tank that busted in in 1975
the Shag carpeting had been removed in 1974
Around the corner was also the Notre Dame Basilica, and and old colonial era post office. City hall, with the monument to Ho Chi Minh, was also in the area. There was also the Bitexco building, with a nice view of Saigon and very reasonably priced beer.
old post office
View from Bitexco
I will be back in Saigon for new years eve and then out to Manila and home. While I have enjoyed Saigon I am happy to be north. Danang is an amazing city, and I'll be sharing a few pics of it soon.