Details of Life on the Road: Street eats, cheap sleeps, budget travel experiences

Good Morning, Veitnam: Days One And Two In Saigon

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After 27 or so hours of flights and layovers between Calgary and Ho Chi Minh City, I finally made it to Vietnam – and what a relief it was. The journey was not ridiculously long, but after so much planning and research, it’s just nice to know that your work has paid off, that you’re alive, and that you can now relax (kind of).

The long transiting and layovers weren’t all that bad. What I learned: be nice to whoever is checking you in. The agent who checked me in expressed interest in my itinerary and he mentioned, more than once, that he was jealous of such a trip. We spoke briefly about long term travelling and he told me me about his 6 month backpacking trip through Europe. I boarded the plane like usual and noticed my seat was at the front. The flight attendant shortly thereafter pointed out that she only had to take care of two “Plus class” members – another gentleman, and myself. Knowing me, I took advantage of the situation and indulged in a couple of drinks as well as some hummus. So, a big thanks to the agent for bumping me up to plus class without letting me know, I really appreciated the gesture, especially for it being on one of the first of many flights to come.

I arrived in HCMC around 8:30am and then took a taxi directly to my Couchsurfing host’s apartment. The humidity and heat joyfully smacked me in the face. I love the warm air and have no problem with the sweat slowly beading my forehead. I’ve missed the unparalleled chaoticness that is Asia to me; the smells, the sounds, the stares, the food, the costs, the endless traffic that somehow seems to work flawlessly. My first host lives in District 6 which was clearly a local area, as I didn’t see another tourist around. Despite being severely overtired I ended up having a great first day. Danh and one of his friends were very hospitable and took me out to check out a few sights, one of them being the Museum of Tradition Medicine (which I recommend to anyone visiting HCHC). I ate lunch and dinner at a vegetarian restaurant just around the corner from Danh’s house which was ideal. Danh ordered lunch for me as he was unable to stay at that time – once the food arrived I was almost certain it wasn’t vegetarian, but little did I know how much certain tofu and mock meats can look like real meat!

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I was ready to hit the hay after I had eaten supper. I tried to stay awake as late as possible but ended up crashing around 8:00pm which resulted in me waking up around 3:00am. Although I tried to rest for a longer period of time I ended up getting up at 6:00am, which was great as it allowed me to get an early start today – something which I plan on continuing. I must say, though, that I was a bit confused upon waking this morning. My host and I had to share his bed last night, as another bed hadn’t been prepared. I looked at the person next to me and I didn’t recognize him. Had I been that tired? No. Turns out that Danh looks completely different without his glasses and after a haircut.

My second host picked me up on his motobike earlier today and we scooted through the city to take me back to his home in district two. After having a famous Vietnamese iced coffee (with what seemed to be enough caffeine for 10 people), we went back to Sam’s place and had a delicious lunch prepared by his mother.

I’m really grateful to be here, to be travelling again, to be alive. Sometimes, when I spend a lot of time thinking about travelling, I become overly emotional. I can’t wait for what the rest of Vietnam – and elsewhere – holds for me.

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