Ho Chi Minh City

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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

Ho Chi Minh City

Saigon, Vietnam

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

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The trip to Saigon went smoothly enough. Our prearranged taxi didnít show, the plane left from Chiang Mai late, and it took  F-O-R-E-V-E-R to get our bags in Bangkok. We got lost in the Bangkok airport, and finally made it to the Vietnam Air desk just one hour before departing. This flight left on time, and the lunch served with wine was wonderful. We were on our way to Vietnam. 

Our driver, Vinh, met us at the airport in Saigon. Quickly we made our way through narrow streets filled with racing motorbikes, horns blaring constantly, to Hotel 127, one of five hotels run by Madame Cuc. Twenty US Dollars. No discounts, no bargaining, nada. 20 bucks was the price for a spotless, large air conditioned room, complete with TV, minibar, and ensuite bath. 



Voluntarily coming to Vietnam without the aid of a free flight, courtesy of Uncle Sam and the US Military, seemed odd to us. What we learned, experienced, and saw was worth every bit of hassle real or imagined. Vietnam was opened to tourism only a handful of years ago, and Saigon, its largest city, is thriving.


Bustling , churning, this metropolis is just waiting to explode commercially. You can feel it everywhere; the high energy, the industriousness of the people, the old making way for the new. The hustle and commotion are everywhere. Motorbikes outnumber cars by scores, and street markets are anywhere there  is space sufficient to accommodate them. Everyone seems to be looking ahead, hungry for the future.


Beautiful female office workers, dressed in the traditional au dai and high heels, gracefully glide their motorbikes through the orchestrated chaos of rush-hour traffic. At the same time, the smell of food cooking is in the air, and fresh baguettes, pate and brie are sold everywhere. Shops with quality goods for exceptional value follow one after the other on every street. Exceeding our expectations, Saigon seizes our senses, energizes us, and promises optimism for its citizens tomorrow.



Because much of the adult population was killed in the various recent Vietnam wars, and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese fled to live overseas, 65% of its people are under the age of 30. 

This could explain why there were no hostilities towards us as Americans; most were born just as the US left Vietnam. And, once learning that we were from the States, a young enthusiastic waiter at a popular restaurant stated with a huge smile, "America have big heart".  How refreshing! 

The people who did remain in Vietnam during the late 1970ís either could not or did not want to leave. Quite nationalistic and proud of their country now that they are independent and one Vietnam again, there is perceivable strength and endurance in their facial expressions. 



As a contrast to the chaos of traffic, a romantic and leisurely way to get around Saigon is to utilize the cyclo driver. For a dollar an hour, these drivers, mostly "retired" soldiers from the South Vietnamese Army, calmly and confidently wheel you around wherever you would like to go. Giving commentary as you mosey through the pandemonium of the traffic, there is a peacefulness and timelessness about this mode of travel not to be missed. Moving at just better than walking speed, without the worry of watching  where you are going, itís perfect for photo taking. Drivers will stop anywhere and at any time for your sight seeing, shopping or snapshot needs. Buildings of French and art deco style abound.



Five kilometers from our hotel is the Cholon market, the widely known dense cluster of streets comprising the Chinatown of Saigon. Over a million or more Chinese live and work here in this twisty, winding, jam packed selection of streets. Generating great wealth, this area and its people have, at one time or another, been welcomed, persecuted, or shoved underground and run by gangs. Everything you can imagine to buy is found here, with streets known for their specialized products. Worth a look see, and take your time!


We employed cyclo drivers to get to the American War Crimes Museum and Reunification Palace, the Ben Thanh market, and the famous Majestic Hotel and City Hall. Once known as The Hotel DeVille, this beautiful structure then became The Peoples Committee Building, and is now called City Hall. 

First time visitors to Saigon, we enthusiastically dove into the experience, exploring its people, markets, food, and history. Not sitting back, we found ourselves swept away with this cityís thriving pulse. 

Persistent and craving a better life for themselves, the people of Saigon are pressing, driving, leaping into the 21st century.


For more stories and photos of Vietnam, click here

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About the Authors
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurerís Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on Amazon.com.

Retire Early Lifestyle appeals to a different kind of person Ė the person who prizes their independence, values their time, and who doesnít want to mindlessly follow the crowd.

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