Next Stop: Mui Ne?

Russell reports that he is enjoying Ho Chi Minh City.  He has visited the War Remnants Museum mentioned in my post on Monday, met up with a Vassar classmate who is in the city teaching English, and has found the cost of living to be quite manageable.  He says that his efforts at painting outdoors never fail to attract a crowd.  He also is sweating his brains out due to the hot, muggy weather.

When you are hot and uncomfortable, you naturally think of . . . water.  In this instance, Russell is considering whether to head to the Mekong delta or to Mui Ne.

Mui Ne is a beach town in southern Vietnam.  It is about 140 miles from Ho Chi Minh City, reachable by train or bus. Mue Ne’s climate is hot and dry for most of the year, and it advertises itself as “the sunniest place in Vietnam” as well as the kiteboarding and windsurfing capital of Vietnam.  It features a series of beautiful beaches on the South China Sea, fresh seafood, sand dunes, the Red Canyon, a host of resorts, and some interesting historical sites related to the Cham culture.  It also is described as having a chilled out feel that is a good respite for the weary traveler.

Sounds like a good getaway destination during the rainy season.

Hangin’ In Ho Chi Minh City

Russell made it to Vietnam earlier today, our time.  After more than 24 hours of travel he landed in Ho Chi Minh City, where he will be spending his first few days in the country and undoubtedly will create his first bits of Vietnam-influenced artwork.

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam.  That is saying something, because Vietnam — to my surprise at least — is the 13th most populous country in the world, with more citizens than any country in Europe.  More than 9 million Vietnamese live in the Ho Chi Minh City metropolitan area.

Americans of a certain age think of Saigon and think of the Vietnam War and the chaotic scenes of the fall of Saigon.  The Vietnam War, and the prior French war, also apparently are not far from the consciousness of the Vietnamese or the visitors to Vietnam; the Ho Chi Minh City travel guide indicates that the most popular attraction in the city is the “War Remnants Museum,” which features “shocking evidences of the atrocity committed by foreign aggressors during Vietnam’s two national liberation wars.”   Other popular attractions include the Ho Chi Minh Museum, the Reunification Palace, and the Cu Chi Tunnels, which were used during the Tet Offensive and during the attacks that led to the fall of Saigon.  A less war-oriented attraction is the Giac Lam Pagoda, pictured at right, which was built in 1744 and is considered the oldest pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City.

It looks like Russell will be in for a wet stay in Ho Chi Minh City.  The 10-day forecast shows rain every day, which is no shock:  It is the rainy season there.  It also is inexpensive.  Russell was able to book a good hotel for about $20 a day, and his brief report on his arrival this morning suggests that the American dollar still has some significant purchasing power there.