“Why Saigon? Parang Manila lang yan!”
Welcome to my 3-part Saigon Adventure Series, where I’ll be chronicling some highlights of my recent trip! Last month, I went on a vacation in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City was formerly known as Saigon, and that’s how I’ll be referring to the city in this entry just because it I like the sound of it better (haha).
I get the “Why Saigon? Parang Manila lang yan!” remark a lot, especially during those few weeks leading to my trip. Frankly, this comment peeves me. I’ll definitely be blogging about my enriching and delightful trip, but let me dedicate this “prologue entry” to why I think the “parang Manila lang” perception should stop, whether in reference to Vietnam or to any other place in the country or in the world.
1) First of all, what’s so “LANG” about Manila? Sure, we grudgingly put up with the atrocious traffic mostly caused by undisciplined bus drivers on a daily basis, but there are hidden and not-so-hidden gems within the walls of this city — gems that speak loudly of our uniqueness as a people. We just need to pay attention to them, be interested and eager to learn about them in order to appreciate Manila and what makes it special. This brings me to my second point —
2) Saigon is not “parang Manila lang”. Manila is unique, and so is Saigon. Each country in the world has its own inimitable identity, its own richness and matchless beauty to speak of. Sure, both cities may seem alike in terms of physical surroundings, but that’s not all there is to travelling, is it? And this leads me to my third point —
3) Because each country is unique and different, travelling to a new place (no matter how much it physically resembles your country of origin) makes you learn lots of new things. And that’s exactly why I want to travel — to learn and to grow richer in experience by exposing myself to different people and immersing myself in different cultures.
So let’s drop the “parang Manila lang yan” nonsense, shall we? This perception shouldn’t be a reason for us not to want to visit another country or another city within the Philippines, because no matter where we travel, we come home enriched and recharged, with a fresh perspective on things and the world around us.
Up next: The heat is on! More about my adventure in Saigon.