Ho Chi Minh City is the current name for what was Saigon and it is the largest city in Vietnam with a population of around 20 million people. It was an important Khmer sea port prior to annexation by the Vietnamese in the 17th century.

Under the name Saigon, it was the capital of the French colony of Cochin-China and later of the independent state of South Vietnam from 1955-75. South Vietnam, as an anti-communist state, fought against the communist North Vietnamese and Viet Cong during the Vietnam War, with aid from the United States of America. Saigon fell when it was captured by the communists on April 30, 1975, bringing an end to the War.

The city centre is situated on the banks of the Saigon River, 60 kilometres from the South China Sea and 1,760 kilometres south of Hanoi, which is now the capital of Vietnam.

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The 60 km haul up the Saigon River saw a variety of craft plying the river from cargo boats to hydrofoils and barges, with the occasional fisherman thrown in.
In the best traditions of fiddling while Rome burned, we consumed an excellent lunch as we approached the city and its skyscrapers, as we drew into a city centre mooring
First stop ashore was the old dictators palace, complete with the tank that crashed the gates and ended the South government's rule. Uncle Ho is in charge now.
The fine Post Office- still in use - is a French colonial building in the best traditions of Empire. It has the air of the French still being in charge. We followed our leader
on, past the cathedral (closed - many Vietnamese churches are only open at times of worship). Occasionally scampering across roads - the traffic was a bit more ..
controlled than Hanoi. The Town Hall is the office of Ho Chi Minh city's People Committee. And the traditional spice shops abound in many of the streets.
Chinese-style incense coils and prayers at one of the many temples in the city. Incense is burned in both the coils in the roof and in the pots near the alter.
Back to the ship for a freshen up, snacks and a moonlit dinner on board. There was certainly a lot of food and drink around at all times of the day.
On the next night we were transported across Saigon to have dinner and a fashion parade. The dinner was not up to much, but the girls were certainly stunning.
On the changeover day between cruises, we had a trip by ourselves into Saigon and went to the oddly names War Remnants Museum, which contained not just the bric a brac of war, but also disturbing images of the effects of Agent Orange on the population - on a par with Thalidomide.


On to Can Tho

Cruise Hanoi to Singapore on Orion II