Going, Going, Saigon

Our final stop in Vietnam was Ho Chi Minh City
, previously (& still quite commonly) known as Saigon and formerly the capital of South Vietnam. It's home to over 9 million people, and our friends Sophie and Stu who were the most wonderful hosts over the 3 days we spent there, guiding us to all the best non-touristy places to see, eat and drink, as only locals can do.

On our first night in town we all met up and talked like crazy to catch up while chowing down on plate after plate of fantastic food in an outdoor restaurant alongside the Saigon river. A scene that was to repeat itself every evening (& some lunchtimes), each time in a different fascinating corner of town, and away from the Tourist zones. Ace.

They also introduced us to Walt, an Australian Vietnam War veteran who took us out one day on a kind of war tour of the city, flying around the streets on the back of motorbikes. Through his charismatic descriptions, and the use of old photos from the 1960s and 70s that he showed us via his iPad, he brought to life the closing stages of the war and some of the iconic photos from that time.

NB: Ignore Jo's ramblings on this video saying it's Hanoi, it's definitely Saigon

Sophie also took us out on a tour of the city. Her fabulous and very highly recommended Sophie's Art Tour cleverly takes a look at Vietnam's incredibly turbulent history through the eyes of the artists who studied, fought, witnessed and documented its major changes in the 20th century. Taking in visits to private collections, museums and contemporary art spaces, whilst weaving the country's dramatic story along the way, Sophie created what was probably the best tour we went on on our entire journey... so if you're ever in Vietnam it's a must.

On our final night in Saigon, Sophie and Stu chartered a little fishing boat and took us out on a charming little tour of the Saigon river backwaters (video clip here). Followed by a trip up the city's highest building to check the view from its skyline cocktail bar. And then back down and along to a cool little party run by their friends, called Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pop.

Massive thanks and love to Sophie and Stu for their super-special hospitality ... next stop Cambodia!

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