This week we’re staying in a serviced apartment close to the city centre, providing me with a glimpse of what would have been had I chosen to live in the middle of Hanoi – yep, total chaos and lovin’ it!
Later this week we’re moving to a compound in District 2 – only a 15-minute taxi ride from the city centre. We chose our new neighbourhood because it's close to the international school for Georgia and Mackenzie, as well as the strip of shops in Thao Dien catering to westerners who like their comfort foods from home.
When researching our move from Hanoi to Saigon, a number of expat forums mentioned the increase in petty crime (and some not so petty!) against foreigners, particularly in District 2. Everything from drive-by motorbike handbag and mobile phone snatches, to people breaking into your home during the night while you sleep.
But the most awful crime, and the one we fear more than someone entering our home to snatch the laptop, is the increase in dog-napping.
Numerous expats can recount tales of waking to find their dog missing. They had to get their household staff to ask around the neighbourhood to see who saw what with the end result being the lucky dog owner reunited with their family pooch, of course, after parting with cash. Unfortunately, some have not been so lucky.
To me this smacks of dodgy household staff in cahoots with criminals, but not willing to take that risk we’ve opted to pay more money for an apparently secure compound. Time will tell.
Needless to say Wally will be inside 24-7! Not something we really had to worry about in Hanoi.
I'm sure as the weeks and months go by I'll be able to bore you with countless differences between Hanoi and Saigon. The whole dog-napping epidemic being just the first of many examples.
But one of the major differences between Hanoi and Saigon, and one at the front of mind for tourists planning a trip to Vietnam, is the weather.
In a snapshot - year round Saigon is either hot, or hot and wet! Hanoi, and northern Vietnam, on the other hand, experiences four seasons. Needless to say the boxes of winter clothes currently in transit from Hanoi won't be opened!
Southern Vietnam's monsoon (rainy) season lasts from May to September, but unlike the rain in Hanoi which seemed to last for days at a time, in Saigon it is mostly a short, heavy thunderstorm lasting anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour or more. I am reliably informed that this can occur anytime in the afternoon or during the middle of the night.
A tip for tourists - carry an umbrella in your handbag/backpack at all times and try to avoid the flooded streets!