Hello Dear Readers!
I’ve been very busy this last month attempting to get my life together as I transition from student to *gasp* a real-life adult!
No, I’m not looking forward to the change. But alas, time creeps onward and as it’s nearing my 29th birthday I feel I should at least make some effort to settle my life.
But before that, let’s talk about Ho Chi Minh!
As most people probably know, Southeast Asia is generally very inexpensive, and Vietnam is no exception. This was lucky, as Harrison and I were spending two entire weeks, and our itinerary consisted of “literally anything I could find.” All told, our entire week in Ho Chi Minh totaled just under $300 for the both of us, and included a trip to the Mekong Delta, the Cu Chi Tunnels, two full food tours, an acrobatic show, and a motorbike tour of Ho Chi Minh’s slums. It’s a good deal, is what I’m saying.
Such low costs enabled us to pig out on all the food, and I made it a personal mission to try out all of Ho Chi Minh’s best restaurants.
It’s also important to note that Vietnam is…warm. More than that, it’s humid. I’m talking, 105 degrees and 100% humidity humid. I spent our entire trip three feet away from Harrison and threatening him with death if he got any nearer. Luckily for the both of us, he didn’t try, as the “Saigon Sweats” (as he termed them) had an even worse effect on him than me.
So yeah, maybe don’t bring your first date to Vietnam. It’ll be sweaty and not in a fun sexy way.
One of our very first stops in Ho Chi Minh was the Heart of Darkness Brewery, which is absolutely an expat bar and I loved, enjoying an excellent British Sunday Roast in true Vietnamese fashion. Before you all complain, we did eat mostly Vietnamese food, including some really wretched things we tried on our various food tours.
Most of our first day in Ho Chi Minh was spent wandering the city, getting a feel for the area around our hotel and attempting to acclimate to the weather. (Lol)
We spent ages walking around the city actually, including an accidental trip into the ghetto and a really ingenious ride on public transport back out. What struck me most about HCMC is probably the amount of markets- the sheer volume of them- and their size. Regular grocery stores aren’t really a thing. Markets are everywhere, for every different type of item, and we spent a significant portion of time wandering through them.
Also, in case anyone young (me) doesn’t have some firsthand memories of the Vietnam war and its effects- it’s still very much alive in Vietnam. This is evidenced by Ho Chi Minh’s War Remnants Museum, formerly named the “Exhibition House for U.S. and Puppet Crimes,” which showcases the “U.S. Aggressive War in Vietnam.” Basically, the communists won and ever since have set up this museum filled with downed American Aircraft and grim images of Agent Orange and its aftereffects. As a former U.S. servicemember, I was more than a little uncomfortable (and pissed), and insisted that we leave once we had explored a few of its halls.
The rest of the trip was quite enjoyable, however, and quite a few Vietnamese folk made certain to explain to us that “We love Americans!” in an effort to be friendly.
Next up are the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Mekong Delta, so stay tuned.
-Carissa “Always an Airman” Rawson