Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam
Two days nearing no sleep and we touch down in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam. It's sweltering, loud, hectic and strangely I'm enamored. After our incredibly cheap VinaSun taxi drops us off in front of what looks like a motorbike garage (and in reality, is), we wander around the backpacking district with our enormous nad heavy backpacks. We wait it out in an alleyway cafe drinking iced coffee and just...watching.
Hour later, we're in our air-conditioned studio above the aforementioned motorbike garage. Shower, nap, and hours later we're enjoying the sunset on the side of the road eating the most delicious medley of Chinese dumplings and watching hundreds of motorbikes zoom by.
Day 2: Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam
A breakfast of mi quang, a central Viet Nam noodle dish, then we tried to go to the War Remnants Museum. Tried becuase the museum is closed from the hour of 12-1. Attempting to avoid the 90 degree heat and 90% humidity, we sought shelter in a covered street food mall near Ben Thanh Market.
I'm not entirely sure how to explain the War Remnants Museum: heartbreaking, stifling, crowded, unsurprising in its bluntness. Other American travelers and bloggers noted its bias, but personally, I found the exhibits on war time journalists and Agent Orange balanced. I wanted to be completely absorbed in its brutality and rawness, the way you get sucked into a true crime documentary about serial killers, but the hordes of brightly clothed Thai tourists shouting and giggling made it difficult to focus.
Dinner of banh mi pate and drinks with expats in a red tinted bar where old ladies in conical hats tried to sell us marijuana out of cigarette packs. A handshake with a man turned into a surprise massage and ear cartlidge popping for the boyfriend.
Day 3: HCMC to Vinh Long
Important piece of travel advice: make sure your contacts give you the correct address. When trying to find my cousin's apartment, we ended up dropped off in a defunct construction site with a broken down oil tanker.
Breakfast of banh mi op la and iced coffee with Jeff then we get a local bus to Vinh Long. More about that in a later post, but let's just say some buses are not good as others.
Our hotel had a man-made lake, a man in military uniform goose-stepping with an AK-47, and dried blood on the walls. Oh yeah, and there was a pane missing from the window. I think this actually works in the favor of Viet Nam. It's a safe country and no one tried to steal anything even though it would have been real easy. Plus, we had our own bathroom and air-conditioning.
Day 4: Vinh Long and the Mekong Delta
After a 5.5 km death march in 95 degree heat at 6:30 in the morning and being stared at by locals who probably thought that we were stupid for walking around in that hot of weather when we could afford a taxi, we found ourselves hanging out in another coffee shop. The tide had turned and we were waiting for our boat. Four glasses iced tea later and a half hour of being mean mugged by a Vietnamese lady with dwarfism, we got a private tour of the Mekong Delta around Vinh Long.