The trip to Cu Chi mostly consisted of seeing how they trapped the soldiers and the fact that those were made by normal farmers fighting for their land.
After seeing all this, they took us to the entrance of the tunnel. I told myself I would go down there, thinking it would be huge and spacey because hello, they lived there. When I saw it, I had to run away because I am deathly afraid of the dark. I swear to you, I cannot tolerate darkness. It was also so small the people my height had to crawl. Fuck no. I am also afraid of enclosed spaces, and for me to have to experience both is too much. I hated myself for it because it would have been nice to experience that but I let my fears get the better of me.
But I did take pretend pictures!!!!
See how small that entrance is you guys? SO SMALL.
We went back to Saigon and rested for a few hours, then freshened up because we were finally going to go shopping in Ben Thanh. We left the hotel at 7 ( FINALLY ON TIME HERE) and chose to have dinner at a nearby Japanese restaurant. Oh my gosh guys, the best. It was cheap. but amazing. If you ever go to Saigon, have dinner at Tokyo Deli.
Okay, so I ordered tamago sushi since it’s the only sushi I eat. There was a pot there and I asked if it was soy sauce. The waiter said he’ll be back and then gave me the teriyaki sauce. I have no idea where he heard “teriyaki” from soy sauce. It’s crazy.
Anyway, we went to Ben Thanh to buy some souvenirs for my family and friends. That place tests your patience and haggling skills. It was expensive as hell there, but after a bit of haggling I got the vendors to give us a fair price. As I was scouring the place for a good coffee stand, I saw this one place being manned by a young guy, maybe 3 years younger than me. I asked him how much the coffee is and he gave me a fairly good price. I told him to give me a kilo and to divide it into 200 grams per bag. He smiled and got into action pretty quick, grinding the fresh coffee for me. He then asked me to smell the place, and told me that if I ever go back to Saigon, he will marry me. I had to hold myself back from guffawing because hello, a random guy just told me he wanted to marry me. Stop the presses!!!
After buying everything we need, we went back to the hotel to talk about our plans for the next day. My grandmother said she wanted to see Ben Thanh in the morning, and I said I wanted to go around the city by myself. We made a deal and went off to dreamland.
Ben Thanh Market in the morning is crazier. At night, it’s mostly tourists and backpackers (there’s a fucking difference) but by morning, it’s a mixture with the locals getting their daily needs. Also: Tony Bourdain ate breakfast here. So I ate breakfast there as well. So we can be one.
After this, I took my grandma back to the hotel and went to Han Thuyen street. I’ve been hearing some good flack about this cafe there so I took a cab (for the first time there) and when I saw the place, I was completely blown away.
It was tucked inside a small house, on the opposite side of a park. It was quiet, even though the other side is bustling with people.
I ordered me a big bowl of beef stew with bread and Fantasy Island crepe. It was amazeballs guys. I also ordered myself a fancy smoothie than I still dream about everyday.
After that delicious lunch, I finally did something about that nagging voice inside my head telling me to crack Saigon’s perfect facade. Then I fucking realized, I traveled around District 1. How dumb was I to not even go around the other 9 districts??? So I asked around and found out that there was a bus that roundtrips from district 1 to 12, and the station isn’t that far away. I went there, rode the bus and waited for something to happen. I was also upset that I couldn’t go to the other 7 districts.
I noticed that as the number of the district went up, the more the living condition deteriorated. I don’t know, but I guess I don’t understand the fact that they had to take the ugliness away and hide it. It wasn’t like that in every district though, 7’s looking very nice and becoming an urban center, but still. After a few hours of this, I felt relieved. I guess I’m used to a certain balance of things, so when I saw the perfection that was District 1, I panicked and got restless. Oh look at me over-thinking things again.
The next day was our last, and our flight was at 4 pm so we had to be at the airport by 1. It was weird though, having to say goodbye. I guess I wanted to go around the whole city more and I wasn’t very satisfied with what I saw. I wanted more of Vietnam, and I promised myself I would go back sometime soon. Maybe just by myself, since I work best that way.
Saigon is a moving painting, everything put into a certain place to function as a cover for the imperfections.
After straying from the beaten path, I see Saigon clearer than ever.