I just came back from Ho Chi Minh City last Saturday night. It was a 4 days 3 nights getaway with a long-time friend. It was fun. The scenery and attractions was okay but the foods were amazing! Everyday I was looking forward to search for new foods. It was almost a food trip. In fact, I told my friend that this gonna be a food-craving trip.
But that's not all. I am also interested to get to know how people live their lives in this metropolitan city. To me, everyday is so happening in this city. There are approximately 5 million motorcycles on the road everyday. The population of Ho Chi Minh metropolitan area is around 9 millions, which means 55 % of citizens ride motorcycles. That's insane. My friend and I wandered around Districts 1 and 3 on foot from 8 a.m. till 10 p.m. everyday and we only saw several private cars. Others were just taxis and motorcycles. I wondered why there were a lot of motorcyclists during the weekdays.
We went to Cu Chi tunnels and Mekong Delta, just like rest of the tourists. The tour guide was a lady, in her 30s I guess. Her name is Tinh, means silent or quiet. She spoke fluent English. That's really good because we hardly found anyone that can speak fluent English. She told the tourists on the bus to be happy and always smile or laugh because we never know what will happen tomorrow. And she repeated the same statement several times. She always said that to the tourists, She said that Vietnam is a communist country. The government gives you everything you want, but also controls everything. When she said that, her voice was a bit sad though I am not sure whether it was real or she was having flu. I think that's the truest and most honest statement of a communist country. Ho Chi Minh city's economics is heavily dependent on tourism. She said that the 2008 global economic crisis hit the country, there were only 4 tourists on the bus in the month of October (October - April is the peak season of tourism). So when tourists stop going to the city, the tourism industry was almost dead. The travel agency, the bus driver, and taxi drive felt the impact most. "Tourists becoming less and less, don't know why.", she added. This time, I can feel the sadness in her voice and it was real. To her, the bus driver, and the taxi driver and those working closely in tourism industry, tourist (us) is their bread and butter. On the bus to Mekong Delta on the next day, again she gave us piece of advice to live happily and don't worry too much. At the end of the tour on the boat, she sang two songs. I do not know the first song, but the chorus goes like "...what will be, will be...". The second song was "The End of the World". Ironic, eh?
She earned USD $10 per day and she know if the next global crisis hit the country, the consequence is destructive, yet she understand that we need to live in present and stop worrying about the future or let the past continue to haunt us. Yet it's difficult for most people, including myself. Although I constantly remind myself to live everyday happily, yet I can't stop worrying. Someday I will reach the peace of mind. I will.