Mac and I separated at the end of our Cambodia trip (I failed to previously mention that Tracy branched off to meet new friends around the 3rd week of our trip). Mac took off back to Thailand and I took off to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. I was a little nervous at first, but excited to experience traveling alone at the same time. I couldn’t have had a better experience traveling “alone” the past 6 weeks. I say “alone” in quotations because when you travel alone, you aren’t really alone. There are many other people traveling by themselves and looking to meet new people. I made a lot of good friends in Ho Chi Minh City that I plan to see again someday. Most of the people you meet traveling have the same mindset as you and as a result makes it easy to make long lasting friendships with other travelers in just a few short days. Traveling alone pushes you out of your comfort zone and allows you to be on your own schedule. Although I had an awesome time traveling with friends, I now had more freedom and no longer needed to consult anyone when I wanted to stay or leave to a new city. However, there does come a point when it is refreshing to see and talk to a familiar face from home. Some of you may have seen that Clay has joined me in Vietnam this week and we will be traveling together here and there over the next few months. I’m excited for that adventure, but for now back to Ho Chi Minh City…
I had previously flown into Cambodia from Thailand, so this was my first international border crossing experience and I wasn’t sure exactly what was going to happen. Before we boarded the bus in Cambodia they gathered our passports and threw them into a basket at the front of the bus. When we arrived to the border they passed us back our passports and I followed people to a line outside to show our passport to border security. They collected my passport again after I got through the line and then I was a little lost. I saw some people taking their bags off of the bus and some people going back onto the bus. I ask the bus attendant what to do and he asks me something in Cambodian and points at the bags. I don’t understand of course, but i decide to grab my bag and follow the other people into the building with their bags. When I get into the building I get a little more nervous as I see the bus drive down the street and I am not sure where my passport went. The attendants inside asks me for my passport and then directs me to a different line where they scan my bag after i tell them I don’t have my passport. I get outside and see border security sweeping the bus and then we are directed to get back on the bus. We get back on the bus and then start watching Fast and the Furious 7 for about 45 minutes in the parking lot as our passports get cleared to cross into Vietnam. Finally a guy walks on to the bus with our passports and we take off. I was happy to finally get back on the road.
I arrived to the Hostel around 8pm and was handed 2 free beer tickets at check in. I had 10 minutes to get up to the rooftop bar before the beer tickets expired. I headed straight up to get my free beer and met Alex at the bar. He invited me to go out with him and some friends that night. We ended up at a nice vietnamese club where we met some really nice locals next to our table. They kept offering us free shots and we ended up partying with them at their table the rest of the night. This was my first night in Vietnam and it couldn’t have been more fun!
The next week I spent hanging out with my new friends from Australia, Switzerland, Korea, USA, Singapore, Vietnam and a few other countries. I ended up spending almost 2 weeks in Ho Chi Minh City. I went to the War Museum, Independence Palace, Cu Chi Tunnels, city center, night market, a waterpark, a pub crawl, a beer club, had my first Banh Mi (still the best I’ve had in Vietnam), tried frog legs, ate snails, drank vietnamese coffee, had my first razor shave/facial and tried some other vietnamese foods I can’t remember right now.
My last 3 nights in Ho Chi Minh I decided to try couch surfing. My friend Julian had positive experiences with it and suggested I try it out. Couchsurfing is an app that connects you with locals that are willing to let you sleep on their couch. I found a host and it turned out to be an awesome experience. They had a really nice house for Vietnam. They gave me my own private room and bathroom and we ate a family dinner every night at 5pm. In fact they tried to feed me every time they saw me. I think I gained a few pounds at their house. After my host got off of work each day he would take me around the city and show me something new. He took me to see my first vietnamese movie, which was interesting. It had english subtitles, but it was hard to understand the humor. There were parts that were suppose to be really funny, but I didn’t get it. In the end I actually ended up liking the movie, but they are very different from the movies we are use to. I would definitely recommend couchsurfing to anyone looking to save money and get a more cultural experience!
There’s a lot more I could write about in Ho Chi Minh City, but I’ll stop there. So here’s some pictures…
Cu Chi Tunnels
The tunnels were made to hide from Americans during the war
I met Sebastian on the street selling gum. He loved taking selfies with the camera.
This was the home and workplace of the South Vietnam president during the war.