The trip started off on a sad note, as today was also the day I moved out of university accommodation! My roommate Astrid had left early in the morning and it was strange to see her side of the room so empty – in fact seeing the room we had shared during the past year so bare tugged on my heart strings a little! Sitting on the bus to the airport messaging friends, I never thought I would be get so emotional about leaving! *sniff*
A quick transfer in Singapore (amazing airport btw) and a couple of hours later I was now sitting in a taxi en route to the hostel (Eco Backpacker’s), minutes away from being reunited with friends I hadn’t seen in 4 months! Weaving between the sea of motorcyclists gave me my first taste of Ho Chi Minh, it’s a crazy experience and even more so when actually trying to cross the busy streets. A happy reunion with friends and watermelon smoothies (I’m obsessed) took up the rest of the evening and I went to bed excited to explore the city the next day.
We fashioned our own walking tour following a map painted outside the hostel, arriving at the Independence (Reunification) Palace at afternoon closing time. This is definitely something to be mindful of here! I promise you it’s not a scam either. This happened to us again as we got to the War Remnants Museum, however we did manage to sneak in for a couple of minutes to wander around the exhibits on the first floor and use the toilets. Probably should have had a quicker breakfast, but we got too distracted by the vast array of things being sold in Bến Thành Market. Lamenting my strict luggage limit, I would have loved to have taken some cool bowls and kitchenware back with me!
Continuing with our walking tour of the city, we visited the Notre Dame Basilica and Central Post Office, revelling in the air conditioned ATM booths they had there. Although saying that, the heat wasn’t unbearable, definitely less humid than Hong Kong for sure! Hitting up the Saigon Opera House we then stopped for a bite to eat and finally got Phở! Despite sitting down at a chain restaurant in a mall, it was still pretty good – much better than anything I had tried in Hong Kong to say the least. The day itself was pretty relaxed, we stumbled upon Saigon Square where I bought a playsuit for £6, despite my precarious luggage weight. (There’s loads of cheap clothing and shoes inside for anyone who’s interested!) For that same price we booked two day trips from the hostel to go to Củ Chi tunnels and the Mekong Delta the day after. So despite the scary amount of zeros following a number, Vietnam is amazingly cheap!