Here it is, my first blog post! You are about to read about all the exciting adventures I embark on and follow my journey to countries that I don’t even know yet. I have a backpack, a passport and no real plan of action. The world is my oyster! And what better place to start my story than the capital of Vietnam itself…Ho Chi Minh City!
Excitement overcame me as I thought about what the next six weeks in South East Asia held. The unintentional over night stop off in Qatar did wonders for our body clocks, so we arrived in Ho Chi Minh City feeling surprisingly refreshed. In the taxi ride from the airport it was like we were swimming in a sea of motorbikes, I had never seen so many in my life! I was told there is around ninety million people in Vietnam and thirty-seven million motorbikes. I am not sure how accurate this fact is, but witnessing the centre of Ho Chi Minh I don’t find it hard to believe.
We had to adjust to the lifestyle quickly, it was sink or swim out there! When crossing the road, do not stop. I repeat, do not stop. Do not wait, and do not hesitate because you will die. Unlike in the UK and I assume lots of other countries, in Vietnam the drivers take it on themselves to drive around you. Don’t get me wrong there are traffic lights and floor markings, but that is about as far as road safety goes. Chaos.
We were thrown into the deep end of Vietnamese culture. We explored the city centre to try and pin point where we were in comparison to all the touristy bits we wanted to see whilst we were there. We had a map that we were given from our hotel, but even that didn’t seem to help matters because everywhere looked so similar. There were street food vendors on every corner, men and women pedalling their bicycles whilst carrying heavy loads, and locals getting on with there every day lives.
We went for brunch in a restaurant that I can’t quite remember the name of, but it was a beautiful place. It was very hidden, mystic and served authentic Vietnamese cuisine. It wasn’t found in Lonely Planet or on Trip Advisors top ten, we stumbled up on it purely by chance. It had beautiful views, food, service, and it had a waterfall in the middle of the room. A hidden gem. In an attempt to fit in, we both dined on a delicious bowl of “pho”, a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup. This was followed by a trip to the War Remnants Museum to get clued up on the Vietnam war.
Our first night in Saigon we went out for dinner to a restaurant not too far from our hotel. We ordered two dishes that we liked the sound of but didn’t really know what they were. One I understood to be lemon chicken, another vegetables with beef. They were delicious, authentic dishes and merely a fraction of the price we would have paid back in the UK.
The rest of our evening was spent sitting outside bars on plastic stools drinking cheap beer and mingling with the locals and fellow backpackers. We got talking to one group who told us about an island called Koh Rong, just south of Cambodia that was meant to be like paradise. Apparently it was the typical white sands and clear blue sea that we all yearn for when travelling. (Basically the perfect Instagram location). Some of my family had mocked me for not researching our travels or making a plan before hand. But this was why. Our only POA was to fly into Ho Chi Minh City, and having no plan meant we could book a coach to Cambodia two days later. So we did, and on our third day we arrived in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.