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Phee Phi Pho Yum – Ho Chi Minh City!

I can honestly say on thinking of this trip, Vietnam was never really on my radar, to be fair, neither were Laos and Cambodia, so maybe I’m just an insular idiot whose getting a bit of enlightening. It had just never really dawned on me to visit a place that has for so long embodied one of the United States (now without judgment or getting political) somewhat mismanaged and divisive endeavors.  However, the more we talked to people, the more we found they just loved Vietnam. We did hear that Northern Vietnam may not be as friendly towards Americans which caused us to consider claiming to be Canadian. However at the end of the day, we figure attitudes and opinions don’t change if the considerate and decent Americans abroad claim to be Canadian, so we’ll see how it goes.

Conversely, we can just pretend to be Canadian and destroy their reputation too!

We arrived in Ho chi Minh city (Also known as Saigon) after a short and uneventful 6 hour bus ride from Phnom Penh (yes, you know you’ve been traveling for a while when describing 6 hours as short). When we got off the bus, we walked a short distance to PP Backpackers and got a really nice AC room for $15. We moved across the street the next day to a 5th floor balcony AC room with fridge and flatscreen for $17.  While this is significantly more than we were spending in Cambodia and Laos, we felt we deserved a little “pampering” due to our Cambodian troubles.

The view from our balcony

The view from our balcony

The first thing Brittany noticed was the currency is called “Dong” A couple seconds of adolescent laughter later and I was wondering just how much of the Americans abroad stereotype we’d end up  reinforcing on this trip. We ended up staying 4 days in Ho Chi Minh city, and I have to say we loved it. The number of times we said “I love this city” is only second to “Holy Pterodactyl Testicles I almost died crossing the street”.

The lights here count down to let you know when it will turn green. At about 5 seconds, they all start going. AWESOME

The second thing we noticed in Vietnam is the traffic is crazy. Now, we’ve been to Dehli India, where there are no traffic lights, and in order for traffic to cross the street, they just mass up until there are enough people and scooters to force the oncoming traffic to stop. That was like heaven compared to here. I mean, the big thing about Asian driving is that its crazy, but there is almost always a method to the madness, and everyone drives pretty defensively. In Vietnam, its like they follow the philosophy of “The best defense is a good offense kill anyone in a smaller vehicle than you.”  On a two lane road, our bus simply drove down the lane of oncoming traffic, overtaking buses, farm equipment, cars, and unfortunate motorcyclists. Anyone in a smaller vehicle, or who had something to live for was run off the road with no shoulder and a 4 inch drop. I think to drive a bus here, you’re asked in the interview if you have crippling debt, a wife who is divorcing you and taking the kids, or you have a pretty daughter with low self esteem (the pole isn’t going to dance with itself Daddy) – if so you’re hired!

YES! NOW THEY WILL ALL KNOW MY PAIN!

So, Ho chi Minh city – why’d we love it? #1 The eats. The food was cheap. The food was awesome. We ate Pho just about 2 meals a day. At $2, it wasn’t the cheapest, but for a huge bowl full of beef chicken or pork, non-ramen noodles, all the cilantro, pepper, mint, hoisin, and garlic you can consume, it was pretty freakin great.

Pho

Pho

To wash it down, there are between 4 – 6 beers we’ve never encountered before.

#2 The city itself. The city was just cool. It combined the elements of just about all of our favorite places. It had areas with parks, greenery, and streetfood like Chiang Mai. It had streets with tiny plastic tables and chairs set up, selling $.50 bottles of beer and buckets, like Cosan Road in Bangkok.  It had museums, attractions and activities.

 

The War Remnants museum, not a bad way to spend a couple hours. You’ll leave pretty damn sad.

War Remnants museum had a lot of left over firepower from Vietnam

Old Market – If you’re looking for clothes watches or just want to be grabbed and pulled at by a hundred locals, this is your place

Doing what we do best, sampling the local cuisine

Tiny stools, big beers – I love SE Asia

#3 It had a MALL. Ok, now after a bit of introspection, we realize the mall is probably not THAT cool, but when you haven’t seen a mall in almost 4 months, you realize how much you miss it. Especially when its an Asian mall, theres so much cool stuff you never encounter in the states. Whats that? A sugar cane stand where they make fresh drinks with sugar cane? A place that makes fried street food for the same price as outside? Pho places like you wouldn’t believe. A whole floor dedicated to a gym. A combination pizzeria/octopus wrestling arena! (I’m allowed to dream). And the highlight- a cinema where we watched spiderman with two drinks and popcorn for $13 USD. It’s also literally the only time we’ve forgotten to bring one of our cameras with us.

Next stop, the supposedly sleepy little beachtown of Mui Ne, we’ll see what we can do to fix that.

Think we got the equivalent radiation of 100 chest x-rays by eating here.

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