Saturday, November 04, 2006

Arriving in Ho Chi Minh City

Damn! Even Vietnam has modern, gleaming, and clean airports!! That was my first thought as I walked out of my Singapore Airlines flight into Tan Son Nhat International airport, Ho Chi Minh City.

Saigon Ho Chi Minh City VietnamI landed in the morning hours under clear visibility conditions, and from up there in the clouds, it almost looked like Pune below - sparse vegetation, tracts of reddish soil, clumps of housing, and winding roads.

However, the airport was modern (even better than Mumbai airport after the recent renovation), and not a speck of dirt or stain on the floors and walls (no public place in India can claim this; I guess we only have ourselves to blame!).

As I was driven down to my hotel in downtown HCM (which is how the locals refer to the city), the streets looked even more like Pune! The roadside shops, shops, and also the girls on two-wheelers with most of their faces covered in scarfs :)

Saigon Ho Chi Minh City VietnamThe Saigon Sheraton is a pretty large hotel and good if you compared with some of their other properties in the USA. The Signature restaurant on the 23rd flooor is very elegant, and offers stunning panoramic views of the city. This is where I had lunch today; a medley of food from different regions of Asia; food was generally good, different in flavor and preperation, and less spicier than those I have had in China and Singapore.

I was feeling so rich when I exchanged money here! US$100, and you are a millionare (in Dong, the currency here which is approx 16,100 dongs per US dollar). Never seen so may zeros on a currency note before!

Saigon Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam Lots of options of shopping or eating within this large hotel; planning to check out the rooftop Club and the Spa in the coming days.

Tam biêt or goodbye for now!

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