Tag Archives: vietnam

First Adventures in Saigon!

15 Dec

 

Unprepared as Usual!

My first trip in Vietnam will only be less than a week, but so far it it has been a whirlwind of nonstop exploring. Getting here in itself was crazy. While at the airport in Seoul I began having problems with my bank card, and managed to get on the phone with customer service and get it all sorted, but by the time I finished, I only had 15 minutes to get through security and immigration, and of course, the line was packed. After passing through immigration I ran like a crazy person and literally managed to turn the corner to my gate just as they were beginning to close it. I got more than a few dirty looks, but I was too stressed and relieved to care.

First Thoughts!

Seeing Vietnam for the first time was a lot like being in Cambodia in many ways. Very similar, French influenced, architecture, the chaos of motorbike traffic, and the feeling of so much life. But Ho Chi Minh is a lot more developed than Cambodia, and has a bit of that big city feeling that I hadn’t really been prepared to experience here. I fell in love almost instantly and couldn’t stop looking at everything in awe, even if it made me look like a wide eyed, first time, traveler. I can’t imagine not being able to look at the world without a sense of wonder, regardless if I’ve seen similar places or have visited for the 100th time. There is always something to appreciate.

Ready, Set, Go!

On my first full day I was lucky enough to meet up with two other travelers, one whom I had met through couchsurfing, a funny and easygoing guy from New York, and his hostel mate, a kind man from China. The three of us started off our adventure by wandering into a random massage parlor and opted for an hour relaxation massage. I don’t think any of us were really impressed with the massage, but it was a fun, if somewhat awkward, experience that we had fun laughing about afterward. After our massage we set out to find another couchsurfer who had contacted one of the guys. We found her in a local bubble tea joint, a young Vietnamese university student. With our group completed, we wandered around the city and saw the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Saigon Central Post Office, and the Opera House. I think the post office was my favorite, with it’s high vaulted ceilings and marble interior.

After visiting some chain restaurant (which had a vegetarian menu with veggie pork!) we walked to a theater that holds water puppet shows to meet with another couchsurfer, a wonderful young woman from Singapore. The puppet show was definitely an interesting experience, although I had absolutely no idea what was happening since it was performed in Vietnamese. But it had something to do with a dragon, a rooster, fishermen, and fish. That’s about all I got out of it. But it was amazing how the puppets moved, and after the show, the actors behind the puppets revealed themselves. It turned out they were in the water the whole time behind the curtains. Dedication!

During the show, the man from China and woman from Singapore befriended a brother and sister who were also from China and we all went to dinner together at a famous restaurant in the city. I can’t really comment on if the food was as good as people say, as I only ordered a side of fried tofu, but the tofu was quite good.

I was ready to call it a night, but the brother and sister from China had one last plan, to visit a live acoustic bar that they had heard about. Although I was exhausted, I am glad I tagged along and got to listen to the band which played acoustic covers of musicians like Fun, and even a few hip hop numbers. It felt like an indie underground bar, and I was surprised to be in a place like that in Vietnam, but I get the feeling Saigon holds many more surprises for those who are willing to look for them.

Uh Oh!

All in all it was a fantastic day, and I was lucky enough to meet so many interesting and friendly travelers. I would go so far as to say it was the perfect kind of traveling day, that is until around midnight, when I started to feel that all too familiar sensation that is associated with food poisoning. I spent the next few hours crouched around the toilet in the bathroom with a bottle of water next to me, wishing, not for the first time, that I was a more prepared traveler. You know, the kind who packs their whole medicine cabinet with them. Luckily it was a mild case, and I recovered rather quickly with only lingering discomfort this morning thanks to my New Yorker travel companion and his wise foresight in bringing his own medicine cabinet. Thanks Mike!

So that leaves just one question, what will I get into today?! 😀