I got back from Vietnam last Monday and up to now I’m still trying to figure out the place. I have to admit, I was head-over-heels in love with it the first three days, but there was something missing and I couldn’t put my finger on it. It took me a long time to understand how the Vietnamese work.
On the way there, I fell asleep on the plane because our flight was at 7:20 am, and if I slept at home I knew I wouldn’t be able to drag myself out of bed so I opted to wait it out and just sleep through out the entire flight. I told my grandmother to wake me up when they hand in the immigration card so I could fill it up before we disembark. When she woke me up, we already landed and the cabin door was open for our exit. I hurriedly went out and when I saw the immigration, I panicked because I just remembered about the card, so I went around the place looking for cards and saw that there was none. Exhausted, I lined up at the counters and took a chance, thinking I’ll just ask the officer for a card. Turns out, you don’t need one. They don’t give out any at all. I was a bit shocked, but thankful because I hate those cards anyway. Oh, and this is shocking as well:
I’ve been to a lot of countries and have had flights that land at all times, and here I am at 8:30 in the morning in Saigon staring at an empty place. It was so fucking deserted.
It was heaven. I hate long lines at the immigration, and here’s this airport with no need for arrival cards AND no waiting time at the counter. Heaven, I tell you.
So, we got our baggage and headed off to the exit to find our ride. As we were cruising along the streets of Saigon to our hotel, I noticed something. There were shops everywhere. The streets were dotted with them, ranging from hole in the walls to full fledged brand stores.
If you would look closely, you’d see that all of them are shops. No residences. It’s like the streets of Saigon was a huge ass mall. Even the expensive brands are laid out like this. That’s just how they roll.
On the day we arrived, we had nothing scheduled so I took a long nap and told my grandmother to wake me up at 5:30 so we could get ready to go to Ben Thanh Market. Our hotel is a 3 minute walking distance (not kidding ya’ll) from the market, and that’s why I chose it. When we arrived there at 6 pm, we were told that the night market does not start until 7. My grandma couldn’t take her hunger anymore so we looked around for a cheap Pho place for dinner. After that, I took her back to the hotel and walked around the park adjacent to our building so I could get some fresh air. The attraction was instant.
We stayed at District 1 (Saigon’s divided up to District 12 and there are other 7 districts) and the hotels are a bit pricier there because District 1 is where everything is at. All the attractions are a mere 5 minute walk from each other (if you are a fast walker like me). The district’s littered with parks for relaxing and an exuberant amount of coffee shops and cafes line the streets, some facing each other. None of them are empty though, all have their steady stream of loyal customers wanting their regulars. It was orchestrated chaos. From the fast moving motorcycles that make it impossible for your life expectancy rate to go up, to the vendors selling everything from fake books(IKR) to DVDs of Vietnamese films. Still, there was something missing.
The next day, I toured my grandma around the city using an old brochure with a very vague map of District 1. I couldn’t care less, I just needed something to work with. We went first to the Independence Palace. It was okay, cheap entrance too.
After that, we went to some stalls near the Opera house (they were getting ready for the independence day party) and the thing that stuck is this:
We walked a little further to see our last stop, the Notre Dame. I’m not a religious person at all but I gave it a shot since the architecture was breathtaking, especially when dusk is about to settle.
After walking around the district for half a day, we decided to head back to the hotel, but stopped by at KFC (I KNOW. WE WERE VERY HUNGRY OK) to grab some dinner. My feet were killing me, but it was worth it.
I felt like I was walking around a European country, but Saigon still had it’s identity in there. It was all their own, but they knew how to make the French invasion work for them. I think that was what set me off. It was too perfect, even with the whole “patintero while crossing the street” thing. It was too much to bear. Perfect parks, walkable streets and easy navigation. I couldn’t believe it.
The next day we woke up early to catch our bus to the Cu chi tunnel. It was 2 hours away, and they said it was part of their provinces. We had the best bus ever.
I fell asleep going there because hello, I’m Ysa Reyes. When we got there, I was caught off guard by this guy outside our bus. He was fucking cute. It was when he joined our group that I found out he was in the bus with me. I really should check around for cute guys before I sleep on the bus. What if I snored? Oh, the horror.
Before we went around the jungle, we were made to watch this short documentary about the Vietnam-American war. It was crazy. They were teaching little girls to trap enemies. The Americans in the group kind of shrunk and I would too. It was a bit too much, and it was obvious that they will never forgive the USA. Intenze.
We then went to the jungle to check out what the people of Cu Chi did to outsmart the American soldiers. They were ruthless.
So, yes, I did stalk the guy okay. I can’t hide it from you guys. I wanted to do a little something for myself and I thought that stalking a cute guy is what I needed after everything that’s happened to me. It was worth it!!!!!!!!!
I know he’s not that cute but he was very funny. He kept cracking jokes every now and then because we were in a jungle, seeing some serious shit. You can just imagine being there at the time where they really needed to go to the extremes to survive. It creeps up on you.