The toast of Saigon

That’s not a fruit bowl. THIS is a fruit bowl.

Ah, lovely Vietnam, where a complementary fruit arrangement in your room isn’t a couple of geriatric bananas and an aged granny smith, but chock-full of hairy ramabutans and a whole mango. That baby lasted all of 20 minutes after I checked into the new Novotel Saigon Centre this evening.

The scents of Vietnam started on its national airway, with lotus-scented refreshing towels (sic), a pork-heavy menu and tart French wines.

In my few brief hours in the city, Saigon’s served up all the standard Asian cliches – families of four on the one moped, incessant traffic, stalinist scupltures on major roundabouts, and sidewalks that are masquerading as cafes, moped parking lots, shoe and trucker hat shops, or just enormous holes that could drop a large man into the sewers below.

Tomorrow, the sleeves are rolled up and Saigon’s underbelly should prepare to be probed.

About the author

Fear is found on a creaking glacier in the Caucasus mountains and joy is encapsulated in the perfect Shanghai dumpling. And while I love a $500-a-night hotel room (who doesn’t?), sometimes the best stories are found in a $20 guesthouse. With an eye always out for good markets and great street eats, I write the travel news and features for the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s The Age newspapers, and features for whoever else asks. I have a particular soft spot for the wilds of the Middle East, scarves and carpets. My articles and photographs have been published in a range of consumer magazines and newspapers in Australia and abroad.

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