At night I took the sleeper bus from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). For a change I didn’t fit in the bed (of course), but I survived. Halfway through, when we arrived at the border, it was a bit of a hassle with the passports, luggage, checking-in in Vietnam, checking-out of Camboda and everything, but after what felt like 2 hours (it was probably a bit less), I got accepted into Vietnam.
And then, a few hours after passing the border, you’re suddenly in the middle of Saigon. The traffic is horribly chaotic (luckily less chaotic than Phnom Penh, but still), there’s people doing everything everywhere, and many backpackers everywhere you look. I love it!
That day, I wandered around the city, quickly ran through the war museum (I figured out they were closing 30 minutes after I entered, so I had to rush everything), saw the first church in Asia since I went away on my trip (wasn’t too impressive though). The remainder of the day I just randomly walked, trying to get lost, just like I loved to do in Bangkok. Walking around and enjoying the business everywhere around me.
That night I visited Tom and Megan (whom I both met in Kampot, Cambodia). They were also staying in Saigon, but in a different hostel than I was. Their hostel looked way nicer though, so I decided to only spend 1 night in my then-current hostel, and move to theirs afterwards. The Vietnam Inn Saigon Hostel (which Tom and Megan were staying in) had a rooftop bar, and I spent a good part of the night over there.
The next day, we had arranged to go to the Cu Chi tunnels, which can best be described as trenches, but then fully underground. The Vietnamese used these tunnels in the war with America to confuse the Americans as to where they were positioned. Sometimes even 1 sniper would shoot from somewhere, jump in the tunnel, rush to some other place, and shoot from there. Because of that, the Americans could never be sure where the Vietnamese were located, and not even how many Vietnamese they were fighting. The tour also went past some of the booby traps used by the Vietnamese, to slowly and painfully kill the Americans. I also went ahead and crawled through one of the tunnels, but I’m glad I wasn’t a Vietnamese soldier at the time of the Vietnamese war, because my 2 meter (6 foot 5) body wasn’t made for the tunnels.
When we got dropped of in HCMC again, at the end of the tour, we got out of the bus at the Ben Thanh market. A gigantic space, crammed full with all kinds of stands, selling whatever you might want. From shoes to clothing to souvenirs to sunglasses to food to everything. Ate something, walked around a bit, and then went back to the hostel.
Because… that night we had to go to the Saigon Opera House for a show! The five of us (Freddy (Swede), Colin and Tom (Canadians), Megan (British) and me) had booked tickets for the so called ‘A O Show’. I took my fancy clothes out of my backpack pretty much 10 minutes before I left for the airport, because I was planning on going backpacking, not on going to fancy hotels, fancy restaurants and other fancy stuff, but I regretted that decision in preparing for the Opera House. Everyone tried to look as fancy as possible, complete with fake bow-tie, but I had only my t-shirt and shorts. Ah well, the fake bow-tie was the finishing touch for my outfit, and we had a great night! The show was a combination of traditional music, performed on original instruments, dance, and a whole lot of acrobatics. It was amazing!
We made that night our fancy night out, so of course we had to visit the highest possible 360-degree sky-bar. Unfortunately, after we finished eating, the sky-bar of our preference was already closed, but luckily we managed to find another one that wasn’t as high, but was still very nice, and we had our fancy night there (and afterwards we joined the pub-crawl organised by our hostel).
The next day was a slightly more chilled out day. Started off eating breakfast at the hostel’s rooftop bar, with a pretty nice view over the city.
Afterwards I went and explored the city some more on my own, now properly vitising the war museum, so that I had time to see everything. After walking through the entire war museum, I went to a pagoda with all kinds of weird Asian statues, and then I joined the crew again. We ate something, talked, and ended off watching a movie in the chill-corner. Only I didn’t really watch any movie, I mainly watched the inside of my eyelids.
After a good night’s sleep, it was time for the next activity: the Mekong Delta. With the crew from the last couple of days (minus Colin, he left Vietnam a few days earlier) we went there and had a good time. It was very hot, but we visited a couple of nice spots. The only thing is that our guide didn’t really guide. He pointed to a few fruit trees, and told us which fruit was growing from which tree, but other than that we didn’t really learn much about the Mekong delta itself, or about the people living there, which was a pity. But, like I said, we drank local honey-tea, we ate coconut candy (which is actually pretty nice) and I hugged a gigantic Python, so it was nice.
Back in the hostel we were all kinda exhausted, so we decided to just call it a quiet night, chill for a bit in front of the hostel, and not go out. That plan worked out great, until it didn’t. And then, we somehow ended up in the city, joining the pub crawl once again.
And after that night, it was unfortunately time to leave Saigon again. Had breakfast, packed my stuff, waved the crew goodbye (if everything goes according to plan, I meet up with them in 1 or 2 days (EDIT: Spoiler alert, it didn’t work out). I have to say that this group was one of the groups I enjoyed spending time with the most, so it was unfortunate that I couldn’t join them on their moto-travels to the north, because I didn’t have enough time) and then went to the next stop: Da Lat. The busride should’ve taken 6 hours, but of course, we’re in Asia, so everything goes a little slower than planned. More than 9 hours after leaving the hostel, we finally arrived in Da Lat, and me and some other backpackers I met on the bus decided to head to the famous ‘Da Lat Family Hostel.’ Got some food, and called it an early night, because there are few things as tiring as an almost full-day busride.
And that’s it for this update. It’s morning now, and we plan to explore Da Lat on motorbikes today. Let’s hope there’s something to do here.