Alright so I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted and this is extremely overdue but I have returned in full force, ready to tell the tales of our misadventures in Vietnam. I had to take a brief hiatus due to an unforeseen injury that has made typing (among many other routine activities) much more difficult than usual. It was on this very trip to Ho Chi Minh where I took a tumble on the side walk, landing me in the hospital with a crack in the radial head of my right arm. But alas, things are on the mend and I can type once more.
We ran into our first hurdle before the trip even began, when at 10 pm the night before our morning flight out of Seoul, we realized that we needed a visa approval form issued by Vietnamese immigration in order to board a flight into Vietnam . Seeing as all the offices were closed when we came to this realization, we started to mildly freak out. But, as with most things, capitalism had wrapped its opportunistic little hands around the poor planning of tourists. We discovered that there were a multitude of fine businesses who, for a hefty premium, could expedite the process and have the letter prepared immediately, on weekends and after hours. We used Go Vietnam Visa. I would highly recommend their services. Their customer service line was speedy (no wait times at all, the woman we spoke with picked up after just a few rings each time we called), the e-mail correspondence was clear and precise, and they sent someone to meet us at the airport to take care of the entire visa process once we arrived. Although our mistake was expensive, we still managed to arrive on schedule.
We arrived on Saturday afternoon, and after a night of stress we decided to lay low. We got Banh Mi from what was supposedly the best place to get Banh Mi in Ho Chi Minh. It was right around the corner from the Alagon Saigon Hotel & Spa, our accommodation for our time in the city. It was a tiny place. They baked their bread on site and had an assembly line that put together the sandwiches. They were amazing. The best part: They were $1.50 dollars each! We ate them huddled beneath an awning with a few other patrons as one of the infamous Vietnam downpours had started while we were there. The rain didn’t stop the locals though. They were rolling up on their motorbikes, plunging their feet into the half foot deep puddles beside the sidewalk, and hopping off to get some dinner. They then sped off into the night, decked out in colourful, plastic rain ponchos.
We hadn’t planned for the rain, so after waiting it out for a near half hour, we gave up and ran back to the hotel while it was still full swing. When we made it inside it was as if we had jumped into a pool with our clothes on.
The next morning we explored the Ben Tanh market. It had just about everything you’d expect, from knock off sunglasses to the classic elephant pants everyone buys in South East Asia. We tried our hand at haggling and ended up with a lot of stuff. The people in the market are extremely pushy in trying to get you to look or try on their items, or to buy more when you’ve decided you want something. That being said, they’re also very sweet. They seem to have a sense of humour about the whole thing, and we laughed with them as we told them for the 100th time that no we didn’t want five extra T-shirts.
In our explorations we also visited the Saigon Central Post Office, the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica and enjoyed drinks on the rooftop bar of our hotel. Keep in mind this all occurred in between breaking my arm and going to the hospital. Despite the injury, we managed to have a fun-filled day and see all the sights we had planned on seeing.
The next morning we woke up early as we had booked a trip to see the Mekong Delta river. We took an hour-long bus ride to the river where we hopped aboard a motor boat to take us to the various sites around the river. We encountered coconut candy farms, heard traditional vietnamese music and (my personal favourite) took a ride in a paddle boat through the canals of the Mekong. Afterward the tour took us to a Pagoda, where we were able to enter the temple and see massive Buddhas which were scattered around the grounds.
Tired after a long day, we returned home.
The morning of our departure from Ho Chi Minh, we had breakfast in a small Parisian themed cafe. We had eggs, croissants, baguettes-the works. Breakfast food is hard to find in our town of Gunpo, South Korea, so we were pretty excited.
Then came time to head to Phu Quoc, an island in the Gulf of Thailand off the coast of Cambodia. A surprising note about the Ho Chi Minh airport: people were smoking INSIDE the airport! Past security, right by the gate, and not even in the designated ‘smoking rooms’ they had available.
Anyway, after a 3 hour delay we boarded our flight and touched down in Phu Quoc.
More on that soon!