After a slightly dramatic morning; a lost (stolen?) wallet and having to fork out an extra $150 for our luggage, we finally made it to Vietnam 🇻🇳.
By the time we got to our hotel it was early evening, so we headed straight out to get some dinner and a few well earned beers! Our hotel is right next to the ‘backpacker strip’ – Bùi Viện. It’s kind of like a South East Asian version of the strip in Kavos; tons of bars and promoters offering buckets of cocktails and laughing gas filled balloons… just like being 18 again! We had dinner at a place called healthy farm, where you choose all of the ingredients you want (noodles, veg, tofu etc) and then they prepare and cook it right in front of you. It was only about £4 for both of us plus a drink – so cheap!
After dinner we headed to The View, a rooftop bar at the top of Bùi Viện. We had a few beers and a great view of the busy street below. After we finished our drinks and started to head back to the hotel, I hear ‘daisy!’ being shouted from behind us, so we turn round and there’s a couple of my friends from uni – talk about a small world! They are living and working in Ho Chi Minh for the next couple of months, and have both been travelling around SE Asia since last year. We arranged to meet up for dinner, drinks and a catch up tomorrow.
After breakfast at the hotel we set of for our first day exploring Ho Chi Minh. We walked to the Notre Dame cathedral and checked out the old post office next to it. We had an ice tea at a cafe on Nguyen Van Binh, also known as book street cause of the many book shops and stalls on it. It’s a quiet street where mopeds are banned, so the locals like to hang out the at the weekend for a bit of a break from the busy city.
I’d read that if you’re in Ho Chi Minh then you can’t leave with out trying a bahn mi, so we decided to find somewhere cool to have one for lunch. Bahn mi is a small baguette filled with meat or tofu and salady bits. It was first made over a hundred years ago when Vietnam was part of the French colonies, and then made a popular street food in the 50’s. We ate at My Bahn Mi and had the most amazing tofu & mushroom pate filled baguette and some French fries. I can’t wait to find somewhere in London that sells them so we can eat them when we get back!
We spent the afternoon wandering around the shops and checking out the central Square before heading back to the hotel. In the evening we went up the Saigon Skydeck in the bitexo financial tower. On the 60th floor of the skyscraper they have the Heineken experience, pretty similar to the one in Amsterdam, just much smaller and a faster tour! A bargain though as you get 4 free beers and an amazing view of the city by night. As we were up there a crazy storm started outside, with thunder, lightning and about a months worth of rain it seemed! By the time we headed back to the hotel (by taxi otherwise we might have got washed away) the water was running through the streets at about knee-height and the rain was still pouring. We had to wade through the streets to get to the hotel door and I dread to think of all the gross things that were floating in the water – especially as we saw a HUGE rat yesterday!
We dried off and had a couple of beers at home while we waited for the rain to ease off and drain away before we headed out to meet Sam and Nem for dinner. We ventured out and waded through the street to meet them at Cafe Lam, where we had dinner. It’s a great little place to eat, so cheap and the portions are just huge! Only downside was that because the roads were completely flooded, all the cockroaches were seeking shelter just like we were. So we spent a lot of the evening tying to squash them! … it’s crazy how travelling makes you so much less squeamish about these things – if you were eating in a restaurant in England and saw a cockroach you would run a mile and refuse to eat, but here you just get on with it! After dinner we went to this cool bar that was only accessible through the kitchen of a little cafe, and up about 7 floors to the roof. There’s no way you’d know about it unless you were with someone who’d been before, or if you’re invited by a local apparently! It was just like being in someone’s living room, and we spent the whole night there catching up about our travels, uni and what we’ve all been up to since graduating. They even had a tv with fifa!
On Sunday we decided to treat ourselves to a proper English breakfast – we did miss the royal wedding, AND the FA cup final yesterday after all! We went to this cool little cafe called bookworm, where they do loads of English grub with a whole load of vegan / veggie versions too. We had a fry up and played a couple of board games and chilled there for the morning while we waited for max to arrive!
We went back to the hotel to wait for him and then, when he arrived we took him on a little tour of Bùi Viện. We checked out a few of the shops and then went back to healthy farm again for lunch. It started to rain again in the afternoon so we went to get some frozen yogurt and spent the rest of the day filling eachother in on what we’d been up to since we were last together in NZ. For dinner we went back to cafe lam (max wanted to try it after we told him how huge the portions were, and how cheap it was!) and then he went back to the hotel to catch up on some sleep after 2 days of travelling. We went back to the bar from last night and met Sam, Nem and their friend Matt for a quick drink before heading home too!
Fry up at the bookworm
Wading through the flood