Flying out of NYC.
Sitting on a plane for way too many hours, a total of 20. We did have a 5 hour layover in Narita which gave us a nice reprieve. We made the most of it by seeing the surrounding sites by train. It was a quick ride to Narita-san Shinsho-ji Temple with shrines, cherry blossoms and shops along the way. We were definitely in a bit of a rush but it was worth it. Then picked up some noodles at the airport.
Back on the plane for another 6 hours to finally arrive in Ho Chi Minh City! We landed at midnight, got our visas (slightly on edge when they took our passports but overall a quick turnaround), met our group and checked into our hotel. Time for a nice shower and some rest.
Xin Chao! Today was our busy tour day of the city. Grabbed breakfast at the hotel where they had 2 of my favorite foods, watermelon and kimchi. Not that I’d usually throw those 2 together but hey, they were offered so why not? Also had some Vietnamese soup, not pho but wasn’t exactly labeled. There’s a smell of lemongrass in the air here and all the food has the same fragrance. It was delicious.
We met our tour guide, Khai and were on our way.
Stop 1: Emperor of Jade Pagoda. There was a lot of incense here, an eye tearing amount . Also some impressive paper mache sculptures.
Stop 2: Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office. These are across the street from each other. The Post Office was actually a bit more impressive than the Cathedral which was nice but doesn’t really compare to other cathedrals in Europe (sorry Vietnam). It was also a national holiday, Vietnamese Kings’ Commemoration Day to show gratitude to ancestors so there were a lot of people out and about, dressed nicely and taking photos. Also meant that there wasn’t as much “going to work” traffic although it seemed pretty hectic to us.
Stop 3: Reunificaiton Palace to see the President’s digs, bunkers and Phuong Nam Lacquerware to see amazing works made out of delicate eggshells.
Next, we were off to lunch at Pho2000 to have pho, spring rolls that were deliciously flaky and mango juice. We even sat where Bill Clinton sat when he visited. After a thoroughly satisfying lunch we headed to our last stop across the street.
Stop 4: Ben Thanh Market. If you’re a negotiating genius, this is the place for you. Unfortunately for us, bargaining is more of a hassle than anything. This place is very aggressive and very hot. We made a quick loop around and headed out.
Took a walk & multiple stops along the river for what felt like miles in the heat. We actually met up with other friends which made it possible to cross the street back to the hotel. Drank everything in the minibar and fell asleep.
Today was our tour of the Mekong River Delta with floating markets, tropical fruit and fun animals.
Woke up to see a group exercising outside our hotel. Nice idea overall but the heat… not sure I would make it. We also got to experience some non-holiday, real-life everyday traffic. It was INSANITY! You just slowly cross streets while motorbikes, buses and cars dodge you assuming you stay on your course at your current speed. Our guide left us with these words:
“Walk slow, don’t stop, don’t go backwards or you’ll go to heaven.”
After going over on data in Portugal, decided to go with portable wifi this trip. Turned out to be much better except for today of course when it didn’t charge so ended up paying $9.99 for the day and it flickered off. We had a pit stop at the Mekong Rest Stop, which is actually this amazing rest stop with a nice garden/pond in the center and much needed cold and caffeinated drinks.
We got to Vinh Trang Temple to see amazing giant buddhas: a happy Buddha, a reclining Buddha and a standing Buddha. ối trời ơi!
We got onto a boat and enjoyed some coconut water before we got onto a smaller boat to get through the narrow canal and snap some photos, try local fruit, listen to live music and buy some yummy coconut candy. Seriously this coconut candy is delicious and I don’t even really like coconut. Also got to hang out with a python and some crocodiles. Next, we got onto a horse and buggy back for lunch at Mekong Rest Stop which was surprisingly delicious. We had elephant ear fish, pomelo salad and the best of the best amazing giant sticky rice ball! We were all sad we couldn’t take more home. That giant sticky rice ball will live in my memories. DROOL!
More flying = womp womp but we are off to Bali! We had a layover in Kuala Lumpur so of course I had to get some Laksa. Even Malaysian airport food is amazing.
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