1. War is over, life is on the upswing. There is no trace of war in the city. Instead, skyscrapers, big department stores and very dynamic trade is what i saw. International brands are displayed on big billboards, similar to those global cities in the world. Saigon Skydeck gives you a 360 degree view of the city, and you can see progress from horizon to horizon!
2. The people are welcoming to foreigners. You would think that they would be limited with their interactions to foreigners, firstly because of language barrier (very little or no english) and secondly because of their violent past, BUT NO. They more than make up for these with their enthusiasm, friendly smiles, and natural flair for salesmanship;
3. The city is clean. Trees are abundant and really tall (not the manicured type gardens of Singapore, but naturally-cared for, matured trees that have their own "personal" space on the sidewalks) The government respect the trees, they are not viewed as causing traffic or being an obstruction to pedestrian like we do in the Philippines.
4. People are more "polished" far from the cheongsam clad girls wearing "salakot" hats or cone-shaped head dress perpetuated by many Hollywood movies. There are people who are fashionistas and can be found in plush malls (like saigon sky deck), generally, people dress good and look good.
5. Everyone is concerned about the welfare of a foreigner. We took out our camera phones, eager to capture those beautiful sights of Saigon streets. Old ladies, well-meaning gentlemen, ladies in motorbike warn us to keep our phones out of sight as there are snatchers. We can only thank these strangers for their concern for strangers like us.
6. English is not a problem. Sign language will do. They so easily adopt and understands us.
7. There is discipline. The streets don't have heaps of garbage like in Manila. Those tables and food carts that come out at night to occupy the sidewalks, they maintain cleanliness and they disappear by daytime. Also, i did not encounter a smoke belcher (either bus or motorbike) which we have a lot, lot, lot in the Philippines.
8. Hygiene in food preparation. I ventured into one lady making salad on the street food cart. I was amazed to see that she changes food gloves for every customer who buys from her. Even if she doesn't understand English, she tells me her food is delicious, and I agree, it is exotically delicious!
9. CAfe Viet, i was wondering what is the big deal about it, but when I tasted it, the Viets know their coffee.
10. Hardworking people. Young and old people, they push their cart into the night market, to make some bucks. Always sprightly when asked and willing to haggle their prices further. They even take time to know Filipinos, saying that "mura na" (cheap already) Not "mahal" or expensive.
and yes, the beautiful Notre Dame Church, the Reunification Palace, the big parks with lots of trees, and the authentic Pho Bac meals, yummy! Life is looking good in Saigon!