There was a time in my life when I thought Florida was the most humid place there could ever be, until I moved to Japan. Then I decided that Japan was the most humid place there could ever be. Wait for it, wait for it… turns out the humidity in Japan means absolutely nothing to me now, because after 11 days in Vietnam and Cambodia (during the wet season) I have a whole new understanding of the term humid.
All it took was stepping off the plane onto a hot airport shuttle bus in Saigon for me to realize that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore, and I was also melting. You would think that at some point we would have acclimatized, but sadly my friends that day never came. Despite this it didn’t stop us from enjoying our time in Vietnam. So with my blabber about the humidity out-of-the-way lets talk Saigon!
I have to admit my expectations for another Southeast Asian country were not that high given how touristy it can be. However, Vietnam surpassed my expectations and I really fell for this country. I had chosen Vietnam because the history had intrigued me and I also wanted to try some authentic Pho Bo and drink cheap beer, clearly my priorities are in tact. All the above were a success on this trip.
Ho Chi Minh City or formally known as Saigon is a fast paced capital city, with a zillion and one motorbikes, bars, massage and nail parlors, and history of war. There is honestly about a million things going on at once in this city, meaning patience is a necessary thing when traveling here. Everything from crossing the street, to roaming the markets, there is chaos. I had been told by many to just pass through HCMC as there isn’t much to do and it’s just another city. To me each city is unique and this one had its own vibe that I liked. Depending on the type of traveling you are looking to do, a day or two in HCMC is totally worth your time.
Before our travels I had read quite a bit of negative commentary on visiting Vietnam. I heard of lots of pickpockets, unfriendly people, up charging tourists, locals forcefully trying to sell you things, the list goes on. Of course these things exist and we were unfortunately privy to see some of it happen, however, I wouldn’t let that stop you from visiting this country. Our experience in HCMC and the rest of Vietnam is that of a country who seems to be putting a large effort into building up their tourism and trying to improve their reputation. Of course the good, bad, and ugly exist everywhere so with that being said travel at your own risk.
We only spent two days in HCMC and one of them was dedicated to the Mekong Delta. We spent a day on the river, exploring the small villages, visiting a traditional Vietnamese home, and some local temples along the way. The most shocking thing about this trip is how polluted the river leading into the delta is. Our boat left from the docks in HCMC and went the 60km down the river into the delta and man oh man Leonardo DiCaprio would have a fit over the sight of the river in the city. It’s a bit of a shock at first, then you enter the delta itself and it appears to be properly controlled of trash and harmful things, but still given the fact that this nasty river flows right into it I imagine it’s going to be a problem, if it isn’t already. I should also mention that we visited a local market along the Mekong and let’s be honest, I’ve been living in Asia for over a year now, weird foods and markets should not surprise me. However, my friends this was a market out of your worst nightmare. I don’t even have any pictures because I was trying to keep my lunch down while walking through. Vietnam-1, Nicole-0.
A short two days in HCMC was well worth the stop. We managed to fit in some pretty solid Vietnamese cuisines such as Banh Mi filled with mystery meat, Pho Bo, enjoyed some Vietnamese reflexology (only the second time I’ve been able to talk John into partaking in a foot message), explored the popular market Ben Thanh, and enjoyed the view at a few rooftop bars with some other expats from Japan. Overall, a successful two days. Check out some pictures!
I plan to blog individually about each place we visited on our little adventure. So keep an eye out for my future posts on feeling like Indiana Jones in Hoi An, that time I ate the Obama Combo in Hanoi, braving a jellyfish infestation in Ha Long Bay, and finally getting our Lara Croft on in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Until next time! じゃまた！Ja Mata