The First 24 Hours: SF to Saigon

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I can’t believe I’m here.

After the 11 hour plane ride to Tokyo and the 6 hour plane ride to Ho Chi Minh City, I finally got my ass off a plane, learned how to get a visa, and took a taxi down to the hostel (Madame Cuc 127) that Dario’s been staying at so we could coordinate travel plans. Unfortunately when I arrived, it was about 2 or 3 am and the doors were shut (I later realized that’s how they all are when it’s late – you just gotta ring the doorbell). Fellow tourist backpackers from the bar next door flooded the street around the hostel. I went to a pair of them to ask them if the hostel was open, only to realize that they really didn’t understand what I was saying. I always get confused when white people don’t understand English.

Luckily, I found a couple of them that did speak English – two Irish guys living in San Francisco (of all places!) – who told me that I could probably get a room at their hostel across the street. I ended up getting a double room and spent the rest of the night trying to sleep because I couldn’t figure out (AKA was too lazy to figure out) how to use the air conditioner. It’s muggy as hell here, even at 3 am!!

I woke up for good when daylight started to stream in through my curtainless windows and the roosters began to crow. Only after taking a shower and repacking my bags for a few hours did I realize that I had probably got about 3-4 hours of sleep. By the time I went downstairs to go look for Dario, it was only 8 am.

After finding him (still sleeping in his room), we went to eat whatever good food we could find in the area. He got a really good banh mi at one joint while I got a small bowl of pho at another. I love how the portions here are so small – it makes sure you don’t overeat AND it allows me to try out different foods thoughout the day.

We pretty much just ate, looked around, walked all over the city. Saigon is constantly buzzing with the sounds of motorbikes zipping around cars, and horns honking every other second. The traffic here is insane!! Many drivers wear  colorful cloth face masks while they ride to deal with the smog. Traffic signals are obviously just a recommendation to drivers since they aren’t always followed. I’m slowly getting used to crossing the street here. Dario taught me how to walk so that you can allow the motorbikes to avoid you. They’re all over the place! I almost got hit by one as he flew down the sidewalk I was walking on.

The fruit here is amazing! We got the sweetest fresh coconut juices and went down to the market nearby for banh-something (the vermicelli bowls) and sugarcane juices. Dario also got a half pound of mangosteen that was pretty damn good. After walking around town some more, we had to return to the market after I realized that I had some odd food stains on my shirt (yes, I’m a hot-mess of an eater). This sent me on a search for replacement clothes down the narrow aisles of the market (which look a lot like LA’s fashion district markets – except with smaller walkways and much more aggressive hawkeres here). After realizing that the vendors wanted to sell me US market prices for clothes, Dario helped me bargain down my items to a reasonable price so that I could wear clean clothes and walk through the streets without shame (he’s been practicing his Vietnamese a lot, so all the lady vendors love him here). Oh yeah, the old shorts that I wore today apparently don’t fit me anymore. I must be getting wider because my ass ain’t gettin that much bigger (oh, old age…).

Yeah that was pretty much the day. Shopping, eating, and taking pictures of ourselves with Saigon’s insane traffic in the background.

Tonight, Dario and I will be taking an overnight train to Da Lat to explore the area (apparently the weather there is also much more mild and Bay Area-like). After that, we’ll will probably be parting ways so that I can go hang out at the beaches of Nha Trang while he goes…somewhere else.

Lessons learned: The kind folks running the hostels are HELLA nice and very  helpful. Be nice to them and get to know them, they’ll help you out a ton. Oh — And no one takes credit card here except for the really big stores. Wireless internet is everywhere here, so if I could do anything differently, I would have brought my netbook (or bought a tablet like Dario did) so I could write emails, make travel plans, and have something to do while Dario chats/cupcakes with his girlfriend back in the Bay on his tablet (otherwise, I just sit in silence and drink my juice. Or write a blog entry).


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Until the next time!!


Posted: December 14, 2011

Author: Tiffany

Category: Asia, Blog, Vietnam

Tags: , ,

+1 Comment
  1. Imee says:

    Teeefany!!!! Photos!!! Photos!!! I KNOW you have your fancy camera there with you…photos pleeeeease!!!! Be safe! xo

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