I'm in Saigon (Vietnam), also known as Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). It's almost the peak of monsoon season in Southern Vietnam and it's almost always cloudy and rains heavily occasionally. The rain reminds me of my monsoon trekking days and how much I really miss that.
I more or less just walked around the city today taking in all the sights. Motorcycle traffic is everywhere - just like in Pune. I was very surprised to see that the city is quite clean, modern and Westernized.
I visited the War Remanants Museum and learned about American atrocities on the Vietnamese during the Vietnam war. Americans started the war for "national security" reasons. America has always lived by the gun and one day it will die by it too - just like the saying goes.
Anyone who crosses the border between Cambodia and Vietnam will undoubtedly notice the contrast between the economic development of the two countries. Now that I'm in HCMC and look back at my Phnom Penh experience, it feels like I was in some African nation!
Anyhow, I really miss Cambodia. The charm, the temples, the country - the people. Cambodians are some of the nicest people I've ever met. Vietnamese are also very nice people.
So far in my trip, I've only had positive experiences with people. Many people have stopped by and asked where I'm from; some have asked my age; and some just look at me and smile. Interestingly, no one here thinks I "look young" for 26. In Southeast Asia, everyone looks young for their age (when compared to Western standards).
Tomorrow is my first arranged "tour". I'll be spending a day in the Mekong river delta, checking out the floating river markets and other such sights. An organized tour is the easiest, fastest and cheapest way to get there. I really don't have the luxury of time to figure out how to get there on my own. I'm also going to Hanoi tomorrow night on the "Reunification Express". It'll be a 30-hours journey!
So far, I've travelled everywhere independently. Interestingly, it's not necessarily the cheaper option in Cambodia and Vietnam. Many tour companies charge less than what I paid to do it independently. I guess economies of scale are at work there. They provide an A/C bus which has many foreigners in it. I paid more to do it independently, but I experienced the "real" thing, and mind you, I did it in style! ;)