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Saigon

Ho Chi Minh City 07/02/17 – 11/02/17

I took a bus, that I booked in the Lovely Jubbly hostel, early that morning to cross from Phnom Penh to Saigon. Surprised to see the girl who was crying at S21 in the reception at 5:30am. We made a knowing eye lock and carried on with our days. A shuttle took me to the bus office, no time for food or coffee but I took a snack and jumped on the coach.

 

 

The drive was pleasant, the border was easy as I had my visa already sorted in Bangkok. The driver takes your passport and departure card (which they can give you) and off you go. I’m sure they gave me a form for Vietnam on the border too but all easy to manage even though this was a local bus.

Once we got through the border there was another couple of hours driving and I was sure we were going to make it in to the city before rush hour. The view turned green and luscious, the type changed to Latin characters and we hit crazy traffic. Then about an hour outside town we got “pulled over by the cops” and taxis were called for the remaining passengers. The locals seemed as confused as me. We didn’t have to pay though and the bus office was literally 2 blocks away from my hostel. So myself and a young Vietnamese guy and his mum took a taxi into town. Such a busy city, can’t imagine the scale and when you start to think of the population being 12.1 million and Scotland has like 5.6 million… woah.

 

 

We stayed at The Vintage capsule hostel which is in District 1. It was fancier than my usual and fair for the price with capsule beds and basic breakfast. I went right from there and had an amazing bowl of spicy noodles and a Bia Saigon Green beer. Everyone smokes and they seem to have a lot on their minds. This street was definitely for sexpats… sex tourists, old dirty men.

 

 

I sat at a local bar and had a few beers and met some nice French guys selling their bikes at the end of their Vietnam adventure. Michiel wandered passed and Manuel met us later. The gang was formed!

 

 

That night we went to the Sky Bar at the end of our street. Pizza and wings there and a lot of crap music. Manuel went to bed and Michiel and I went along the street for a few more drinks. That street changes at night. We were in the tourist red light district and it seemed that the punters were receiving Vietnamese straw hats after their service {been serviced}. Plenty of huge Russian men with doated eyes and sleazy smiles walking around with these hats on. At a bar towards the end of the street I had a run in with a big Russian man who felt he had the right to pick up a little woman who was selling items on the street. You get wankers everywhere. I was glad we were only staying for a few nights.

 

 

The next day we went on to walk around town, to Notre Dame (pretty weird right? Those French!) and the post office (wow!) and Michiel wanted to go to a geology museum. The place looked closed and a woman who just shooed us intitally, opened up eventually! If you want to go walking round and peering in windows helped! It felt very European. Museums are pretty global, there doesn’t seem to be another way to lay out artefacts!

 

 

Dusty specimens were mildly fascinating for Michiel and pretty for me! We wandered from there along the river and nipped into the Alternative Arts Centre on the right there. Amazing graffiti and a few places to eat here. We went veggie and had salads at an American diner bar. They also had a fruit Strongbow wow!

 

 

Then a rush back to the hostel and a change to head out to the Chill sky bar for sunset. Some fantastic (expensive) cocktails – a Bloody Mary and a Mint Julep for me. Nice music up there and then we went for some street food and a beer at a side place in an alley on the way home. Tonnes of sexpats and people selling tat. I’m about done with the city!

 

 

Manuel got robbed in the dorm, someone had raided his bed and found his cash stashed amongst his dirty laundry, no attempt to hide what was done and hostel staff did their best with CCTV and going to the police but it was definitely someone in there. A shame but honestly where we were staying it didn’t surprise me. Probably lost it on a girl or gambling and had to get it back, really sad as it put a downer on it all. Next morning we had breakfast across from the hostel with the French guys and David and Noel we had met. Fabien and Alex sold their bikes on the street, seems to be the done thing in ‘Nam.

 

 

Michiel moved north to Da Nang and I moved to the Saigon Central Hostel with Manuel to do some work whilst he waited on a package from home. We ate my first Banh Mi at My Banh Mi I went for classic, and the owner came out, turns out he’d lived outside Glasgow for a number of years! Small bloody world! We found a book street with lovely cafes and I worked there a fair bit too, not far from the post office.

 

 

Crossing the street is crazy in Ho Chi Minh City so once the boys left I just went right until I could eat but was never too far away from a great sandwich or bowl of noodles, the famous phở would come further north. I spent a few days working at Mam Cafe. Lovely noodle salad, great coffee (all the coffee in Vietnam I was to learn is outstanding) and juices. The wifi was spot on and a big cushion seat up the back is perfect for a day shift! I liked the main square in District One, markets are always worth a quick wander round, especially if they are foodie rather than tat for me!

 

 

I had arranged to meet the guys and Cassandre in Hội An in a few days, the flight was super cheap. Something like £19 and we booked a splendid shuttle bus from Da Nang airport to Hội An, worked out about £9 and they were so helpful when my flight was delayed and there was a lady there waiting with my name on a board! Too cute!

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