We’re in hot and honking Vietnam

by Kim on December 20, 2013 · 46 comments

Welcome to Vietnam

We’ve arrived in Vietnam and oh what a change from bitter cold and buttoned up Europe! We landed in Ho Chi Minh City a few days ago and promptly got pummeled by a hardcore case of jet lag. It had us up at all hours of the night and then crashing around 1 in the afternoon for three days straight.

But it’s a small price to pay, really.

Everyone has their place in the world and Asia is mine. I just love this part of the globe. I love the foreign-ness of the culture, how it forces me to stay on my toes and in the moment. I love taking my shoes off at the door and walking barefoot most of the day. I love the men that sleep on their motorcycles to escape the mid-day heat. I love the street food. I love the dirt. I even love the people who ask me 3,000 times while I’m eating lunch if I’d like to buy a book or a hammock or a lighter or a pair of sunglasses. No, I would not. Yes, I still love you.

I love crossing the insane roads with hundreds of scooters zooming by. It’s like walking meditation to me. Pay attention. Breathe. Move with intention. Brian says crossing the street here is like a human game of Frogger but I think it’s more like Tai Chi. Well, Tai Chi with  the added risk of getting run over.

Vietnam scooter traffic

Scooter traffic

And the food!!! I love the food. I’m a vegetarian and I connect best with the countries where I can eat well. I didn’t think that anything could rival the joy I found eating in India but Vietnam is giving India a run for her money (I can’t wait to see how Thailand fairs in this food showdown).

Vietnam beer

Tiger beer $1. Saigon beer $0.50.

Spicy soy sauce and chilis

Spicy soy sauce and chilies.

Meal in Vietnam

A meal from heaven. Fried noodles with vegetables, fried tofu and garlic fried rice.

Admittedly, Brian and I haven’t explored much of Ho Chi Minh City. We’ve been enjoying some downtime recovering from our five week whirlwind tour of Europe. And we’re focusing on getting work done (I finished my Camino de Santiago guide) before we drop out of contact during our bike tour which begins on 12/22.

Our friends Glenn and Michele (of Yellow Envelope fame) will be arriving in Vietnam shortly and we’ll be biking around the country with them and a group from REI. I’ll try to blog as often as possible during this bike tour but like always I’m not sure what sort of access I’ll have to the Internet. And I might have to spend most of my free time icing my butt.

Hotel ally

The alley of our hotel where we’ve been spending much of our time.

We did manage to get out and go to the War Remnants Museum (formerly called the Exhibition House for Crimes of War and Aggression) which was a horrifying thing to see that left me feeling physically sick. The museum displays military equipment outside and photos of corpses, reports of war atrocities like the My Lai Massacre and pictures of those affected with severe deformities because of agent orange, napalm and phosphorous bombs.

It’s a terrible and shameful piece of history that I would care to just as soon forget, though it is crucial that we never do. It’s amazing that 40 years ago there was a war raging on this soil and Americans were here with guns and bombs and now Brian and I are here instead with our passports. I suppose it says something about the resilency of the human spirit and, perhaps, forgiveness.

Vietnam War plane

An American plane left behind after the Vietnam War.

Coconut scam

This guy scammed us into paying way too much for coconuts. At least Brian got to hold the bamboo coconut carrier.

I am thrilled to be in SE Asia and I can’t wait to get out of the big city and explore the villages and countryside of beautiful Vietnam.

Vietnam bicycle

Like this but without the bananas.