I made it to Vietnam! Ho Chi Minh City is an intimidating place to arrive at – in a downpour with a darkening sky and having to cross the busiest roundabout with the craziest traffic I’ve ever seen. It’s noisy (so many horns honking and motorbikes revving) and polluted (many people wear masks over their noses and mouths) and the streets feel really crowded. But after some time here, I feel more comfortable and can appreciate its energy and life. It’s lit-up nicely at night, and the markets make the streets come to life with random, bright, stuffed-full shops lining the sidewalk. Actually, not so random.
There’s a Simpsons episode that kept coming to mind, in which Homer decides he needs some hammocks, but he’s living in a new town and doesn’t know where to find them. He asks his new boss, who muses on the names of several stores that carry hammocks… and Homer replies: “Oh! The Hammock District!”
That’s what HCMC is like- I was walking down the street and passed aquarium store after aquarium store. And I realized: I must be in the Aquarium district! Until the stores changed to infant formula stores, and I was then I was in the Formula district? Which melded distressingly (or in sequence?) with the alcohol and cigar stores district. It’s an interesting way to do business- with all your competitors clustered tightly around you. I wonder how it works out for all the stores. Maybe they see more traffic, because everybody knows exactly where to go to get exactly what they need? Regardless, it’s always good to see a different way of doing things. But I never did find the hammock district… 🙂