Hey all! I’m writing to tell you about my first few days in Vietnam. My first two nights I spent in Ho Chi Minh City and it was a huge change from Ubud. HCM is a huge chaotic city where there aren’t really traffic rules and you pretty much just have to rely on people driving around you every time you cross the street. Luckily the bus from the airport dropped me off right around the corner from my hostel, so I didn’t have to try to navigate the traffic with my suitcase.
Once I got to the hostel I quickly became friends with a few guys staying there and we all went out to dinner together. I had a delicious chicken stir fry (see picture below). After dinner we went back to the hostel and enjoyed the free beer at the happy hour our hostel put on nightly. It was definitely not a bad way to start my time in Vietnam.
The next day I started off the day walking around with one of the guys I’d met to go see all the big tourist attractions in HCM. We attempted to go see the Independence Palace, but they close for lunch from 11-1. So instead we walked to the main cathedral and the pink cathedral, which were also closed for lunch. Both of us felt we’d seen the inside of plenty of cathedrals so it wasn’t a big deal. We also stopped by the main post office, which was huge! After walking around a bit we decided we wanted to get some juice. We found a woman selling some fresh juice on the street and after she had finished with the man she was helping we went over to try to order. My friend asked her if we could have the juice and she took one look at us, mumbled something and gave us the dirtiest look, while shooing us away. My friend and I were in shock, though he told me that similar things had happened to him before. We ended up going to an actual smoothie shop instead.
After taking a break from wandering around, we went back to the Palace, where my friend left me to explore since he’d already done it. The palace was really quite interesting because everything was from the 50’s and 60’s. It felt as though I’d traveled back in time.
After the Independence Palace I went over to the War Remnants Museum, which talks all about the Vietnam war. Going through this museum was a huge eye opener for me since when we learn about the Vietnam war in school America is always painted as the good guys. There clearly was Vietnamese bias at this museum but after having seen and reading about the destruction of Vietnam and death of civilians, especially the room about the effects of Agent Orange, it’s really hard for me to see any excuse for the US’s actions in this war. I can’t stress enough how important traveling to other places is as a way of educating one’s self on the rest of the world.
Obviously that museum was a lot to take in so I took it easy afterwards. On my way home I get some fresh spring rolls from a street vendor, which were amazing! After getting back to the hostel I pretty much repeated the first evening there by going to dinner with the friends I’d made and then hanging out at the hostel for happy hour.
So I mentioned before that the traffic situation is pretty much pure chaos, and catching a bus to the airport was no different. A few other people and I were waiting at the bus stop to catch the airport shuttle and when it came, the bus opened its doors, but never stopped moving. We were very confused as to why it didn’t stop and figured it was going to come around again. We found out that you actually need to jump on the bus, so we all ended up waiting half an hour for the next shuttle. It was a bit stressful but I made it to the airport on time and am currently writing from the plane to Da Nang, from which I’ll go to Hoi An. Stay tuned for more Vietnam adventures!