Trip Start Mar 01, 2009
23Trip End Dec 21, 2009
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Where I stayed
A very narrow and tall hotel
Saigon was insane. Insanely brilliant. I’ve never seen so many bikes in my entire life. We arrived off the bus, grabbed a taxi and headed to check out a couple of places which had been recommended to us. A Belgian girl called Barbara came along with us as she was travelling alone and we ended up finding a very fancy room altogether. It was considerably pricey compared to Cambodia but that’s just Vietnam prices and so there’s not much you can do. Still it was still only about £5 for a private, air-conditioned room with TV, breakfast and wi-fi included so you can’t really complain. And it was cock roach free which is always worth an extra couple of dollars.
However that afternoon it rained. It rained Cambodian style in fact. And so for the first few hours we didn’t get up to much
Meanwhile back in Saigon or as it’s now known Ho Chi Minh we were tucking into some Pho. A rather tasty Vietnamese broth. We decided to attempt to defy death crossing the busiest road junction ever. There are no traffic lights or pedestrian crossings anything like that - just simply a sea of bikes and you just have to walk
We had a quiet one the following day - just wandered around the city for the day seeing sights and getting to know the city a little better. We decided on booking a flight half way up the county the following day to get out of the rain and to save on time and 2 long painful overnight buses which we didn’t think Nathan would appreciate straight after flying in from London. I decided to take a day trip up to the Cu Chi tunnels the following day as otherwise I wouldn’t get a chance to see them and we headed for an early night after the experience of sharing a motorbike taxi across the city and through the madness. 3 on a bike is always proves for an interesting few moments.
I was up and gone in the morning as we headed up practically back to the Cambodian border by bus. The first stop was a temple for a small minority religion particular to this part of Vietnam. It was a combination of Buddhism, Catholicism and the Muslim faith. The temple was amazing. It was so stunning and exquisite and different to any of the other temples I’ve seen in Asia. We stayed for a ceremony which was amazing to watch - after visiting so many temples in this part of the world it’s quite nice to actually get to see one in action. Not that I’d really thought about it too much but once I’d seen the ceremony it became clear that that was the only way to get to experience a temple properly.
We stopped for lunch enroute to the Cu Chi tunnels which were on the road back to Saigon
It was then on the way back to Saigon that my whole plans for Australia were thrown up in the air. I had met a Brazilian girl that day who had been couch surfing in both Saigon and Hanoi with ex pats teaching English. So we were chatting away and I was telling her about my plans to go back to Oz and work until Christmas when she mentioned how easy it was to get English teaching jobs in Vietnam and how much they paid. So I began thinking. Always a dangerous occupation. Initially as I had been so excited about going back to Oz and had a flight booked I immediately dismissed staying in Vietnam thinking it was a good idea but bad timing. However after a sleepless few hours on the bus and my brain doing overtime I cautiously ventured questions such as - how much does it pay, how easy is it to get jobs, what about visas and accommodation. Andrea had all the answers and I was beginning to recognise that all too familiar sensation in my stomach. I think it’s a mixture of possibility/regret at going against my initial plans/excitement plus an overwhelming feeling that travelling is just far too exciting and my ability to make decisions with ease is not improving with experience. A rather disappointing revelation after almost a year of travelling and decision making. Regardless the conversation with this almost stranger had turned the nice organisedness of my head and plans for Australia upside down and inside out which is a pleasant yet mildly disturbing position to find oneself in
I got back to our accommodation to find myself enveloped in a big bear hug by Nathan as I opened the door and after a quick and wonderfully cold shower we headed out to celebrate both his arrival out to Vietnam and his 23rd birthday.
It was time to say good bye to the impressively hectic Saigon in the morning which I did with style. With my rucksacks on a motorbike all the way to the airport. In Saigon traffic. It was fun. Got many a strange look from comfortable travellers in the back of spacious, air-conditioned taxis but I also noticed a hint of envy as we flew past and I prayed we were actually going to the airport and hadn’t been misunderstood by the little Vietnamese driver who had not a word of English.