Phew. We’re finally at the halfway point of my South East Asian adventure and boy has it been an incredible two weeks. New experiences, new countries and best of all some amazing new people. Sadly we had to say goodbye to about half our group in the morning who weren’t doing the Vietnam half of the trip. I’m going to break Vietnam up into a few posts because it was nearly two weeks of my trip and I think it’s earned the right to a couple of posts.
We landed in Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon (depending when you were born) in the early afternoon and made it to the hotel around 4pm where Harnsle was waiting in the lobby! I possibly haven’t mentioned on this blog yet but Harnsle is one of my best friends from back in Sydney and we signed up to do the Vietnam half of the trip together. It was soooo good to see her after nearly six months apart. After a great reunion the group met for the first time and everyone headed out to eat some delicious Vietnamese food.
The next day was an early start for our Mekong River homestay experience. We caught a slowboat along the river to a point, and then we got to go in local boats to the homestay. They even provided coconuts for us to drink while we cruised! At the accommodation we got to go mud fishing – a unique experience where you’re immersed up to your waste in muddy water and you stomp around trying to get the fish to come to the surface. Sadly I didn’t catch any, possibly because anytime a fish flapped near me I ran away….
For dinner that night we sampled rat, snake and some other local delicacies. Well, Harnsle did and I watched because I’ve actually tried them in China and didn’t feel the need to repeat the experience. Then the jungle juice came out, and that was the end of the night…
The next day we wandered back to the slow boat and jetted back towards Ho Chi Minh City. On the way back we got to see the legendary Cu Chi tunnels that the Viet Cong used to hide from American soldiers during the war. It was really cool to see the booby traps and tunnel system that they built. We finished up the day eating pho in a really cute restaurant near the hotel before Tim showed us to a rooftop bar.
In the morning we had some time before flying off to our next destination, so we went to the Notre Dame Cathedral and Presidential Palace. We finished off our time in Saigon with a visit to the War Remnants Museum which was a stark reminder of the war and the damage that was done to Vietnam throughout, particularly through the use of Agent Orange.
So that was Ho Chi Minh, the capital of Vietnam. Like a lot of other Asian cities, it’s a city of contrasts – the history and tragedy behind the city sits just underneath the glittering veneer of skyscrapers and rooftop bars, waiting to be discovered by those willing to explore.
tl;dr: went to Saigon, ate some pho, stayed with a local family. Off to the beach!