Still wearing our warm London winter gear we arrived in a hot – no less than 36 degrees – Ho Chi Minh City. Unfortunately our bags hadn’t made the plane on time and were left behind in Dubai, so the first thing we did upon arrival was having a late night emergency shopping session; new shorts and flip flops were in order!
Freshly showered and lightly dressed we then headed out for some well deserved, cold beers and food at 5KU Station. Imagine a big place full of tables, normal ones as well as the typical low tables and chairs you see all around Vietnam, half of it open air, the other half covered up, and full of locals as well as the odd tourist; perfect. We went for a mini barbecue -some sort of flowerpot turned into a table grill – with beef, prawns and a portion of delicious noodles on the side. I didn’t know it at the time, but these ‘flowerpot’ barbecues seem common in Vietnam, in Hanoi for example they were omnipresent as well.
Our second day started off with some more essentials shopping and the afternoon was spent walking around the city. Towards the end of the day we decided to head towards the Bitexco Financial Tower as it was supposed to be -the- go to spot for sunset watching.
A bit lost between the chaos of the streets and the – according to the male -bad map we had, we asked a friendly looking guy how to get to our destination. Instead of explaining us where to go he immediately pointed at his scooter, urging us to get on. Oh well, we’d seen loads of scooters with three or even four people on it so why not? Barely a minute later and without a helmet, I found myself being the third person on the back of this surprisingly fast vehicle. Zigzagging our way through the manic Ho Chi Minh traffic and although I wouldn’t recommend you do the same, it definitely was a bit of an adventure! And, truth to be told, our Vietnamese friend dropped us off in front of the Bitexco Tower just in time to watch the sunset.
Now, most people going to Ho Chi Minh visit the War Remnants Museum and the Cu Chi Tunnels outside the city. As we had this luggage issue that took up more time than we expected we unfortunately didn’t have a chance to do this, an extra reason to come back!
The first impression I had of Vietnam in general and Ho Chi Minh in particular was that it’s crazy how many scooters you see – they are literally everywhere. And yet it seems to work, traffic is moving (most of the time) as some sort of massive organised chaos. Besides that there is the heat and the smell, Ho Chi Minh was very hot but not in an unpleasant way with this mixed smell of petrol, incense and grilled meat. Then of course there is the food. There’s lots of delicious food (and ice cold beers) and the people are friendly, trying to help you if they can, and not harassing you at all to sell you typical tourist rubbish. Needless to say that so far I was absolutely loving my first time in Asia.
Next up: Mui Ne and Hoi An