Sociable Saigon
in Saigon, Vietnam on 6th March, 2012

I caught a morning bus from Phnom Penh to Saigon. At the bus station an employee of the bus company asked an Australian girl next to me where she was going. She replied "Phnom Penh" by accident. I said to her not to buy a bus ticket to go there as it'll end in tears and then I asked if she was going to Saigon as well.

About 20 minutes from the border between Cambodia and Vietnam we stopped for lunch. I sat at a table by myself eating some noodles. Suddenly the same girl appeared and asked if they tasted nice. She sat down and we had a nice chat over lunch.

It dawned on me, back in London beautiful blonde girls never approached me in a friendly manor out of the blue. There always needed to be a connection like work or mutual friends and even then they kept their guard up while making me do all the work with small talk and igniting the conversation. This Aussie girl isn't unique either, I've met several Anglo-Saxon girls during this trip who've made the first move in approaching me.

Walking around Saigon I realised this wasn't going to be like the other city I've been to in South East Asia. The driving was very uniform with very few people speeding, honking, overtaking or driving the wrong way down the road. I walked through a park in the middle of town and before I knew it 15 local students greeted me and began practicing their English with me. There were fewer street hustlers and everyone I made eye contact with and smiled at did the same in return. I can't think of another country I've been to where this has been the case.

Saigon is a walkable city and is a gem for street photography as much as Phnom Penh is. This country has a recent and painful history that is told well in their museums. There is a large variety of restaurants and yoghurt shops and buying onward travel has been as straightforward as just about anywhere else I've been. I don't know why anyone would stay in Bangkok with nice places like this nearby.

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