The airport in Saigon was depressing. It was like arriving in the communist country back in the 60's. Well, Vietnam is a communist country. It took ages before I got through the immigration and get my backpack, which had to go through the security control again before I was allowed to leave the airport. Nothing had prepared me for this and I was so happy that I had decided to book a room for the first night beforehand: hundreds, and I mean it, of taxi drivers waiting for the passengers and they literally fight over you. Each of them knows the best hotel for you, too. Almost scary! I managed to walk through them and this young man walked straight to me and I thought that he's the driver sent by my hotel (thinking about it now how he could have known that I was the one to go to Mai Phai hotel, but at the time I was just happy to get away from all that hassle) and I stepped into his taxi. I said to him that I've been told that the fare is $5 and he said with a grin 'Is that so?' leaving me wonder whether he agreed with me or not. My first impression of Saigon? Ugly and dirty and I had no reason to change my mind about it later on, though I would learn that this city is also much more. We arrived at the hotel and the taxi driver asked for $6 but I only had 5-dollar notes and no dongs yet, so he took one and left me. At first at the reception they claimed that they had no reservation for me but when I showed them the e-mail I'd got from them they showed me to my room, which was far better than I have expected. For $14 a night I got a spacey room with a double bed, fridge, satellite TV, phone, bathroom and aircon and on the top of everything it was clean, spotless. It was almost dark (it got dark there at 18.00) when I started exploring that huge city which never seemed to sleep. Pavements were full. They seemed to be extensions of the living rooms there. People ate, read, chatted on them, children played on the pavements. There were stalls selling everything you could think of and pavements were the parking lots as well. The cyclos and motorbikes filled the pavements. The situation wouldn't have been as terrible if they had parked them parallel with the street, but it was mainly done the other way and they totally filled the narrow pavements. One thing they were not for is the one you as a westerner would think: walking. There simply wasn't room for pedestrians and you were forced to walk on the street. As soon I stepped out of the hotel door the cyclo and motorbike riders surrounded me and offered rides. This was something I would get used to but in the beginning it was just exhausting. I wanted to get away and be alone but it was impossible there. Vietnam is slightly smaller than Finland and there are 78 million people while there are only 5 million of us, so you can imagine what it was like or maybe you cannot. Back at home I'd have been terrified of the traffic. They didn't seem to have any kind of rules and even after three weeks in Vietnam I did not figured out how it worked. For a westerner like me it seemed to be a total chaos, but surprisingly it worked. Soon I learnt to cross the streets the local way, just walking into the traffic and weaving my way through the motorbikes, cyclos, bicycles, cars, buses. What they say in the LP is so very true: "Crossing the street in Saigon is an art. Move slowly and deliberately, never be indecisive or hesitant, unless you see a bus coming, the above does not apply...RUN!" If I had waited until cars stopped and let me cross the street like I do here I would still be waiting at the first street corner in Saigon. There they just didn't have a custom to stop and let the pedestrian cross the street.