The Craziness of Ho Chi Minh City
Good Morning, Vietnam! I had to say it - But this time we've spoken these words in the actual country while soaking up the culture, eating the food, almost getting run over by the insane motorbikes that congest the streets, and sweating our butts off in 100 degree (humid) heat. Teedo and I are in Vietnam, people (Yes, I call my mom Teedo. Long story, ask me about it sometime) and we are loving it! We're both ready to embark on a 16 day journey I'd like to call Lindsay and Teedo's Epic Vietnam Adventure. Original, I know :)
It All Started When…
I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again - I was getting the travel itch back in Colorado and I just felt like I needed one more trip...to get me out of my comfort zone, see and experience a new country, and try new things. I knew I wouldn't be able to go with Chip (although we're devising a plan to start a sabbatical program at his clinic. Wouldn't that be fantastic?!). So Chip was out. Let's see, who else could I ask? Mom. Sure, a mother/daughter trip could be fun, right? So, I flicked her a text that inquired what her bucket list places were. I was wide open at this point and I could have been convinced to go to Yemen. She wrote back: a USA road trip/Glacier Nat’l Park, Hawaii (again), and Vietnam. Perfect, she already seemed to be interested in my question and even better, I've always wanted to go to Vietnam. Scheming, I shot back a text saying that we should go. Never thinking she would say yes, she wrote back 'let's do it!' We bought plane tickets 2 days later. Bucket list places for the both of us and a chance to spend quality time with one another.
So why Vietnam? I realized after talking with my mom that I wasn't the only one who received cross-eyed looks from friends or family when I said we were going to Vietnam. Here's my very shortened version of why I wanted to go. Sure, it was once a war zone but what I have been hearing is that it has quickly become the country to visit. This country is blessed with a brilliant coastline, one of the world's best cuisines, dynamic cities, several world heritage sites, lush mountains, outstanding cultural interest, floating markets of the Mekong River, and warm, friendly people. I can't imagine it getting any better than that. Only it will because we'll get to experience it with our own eyes, ears, mouth, hands...
But first, recapping the last 36 travel hours went something like this...2 plane rides for me, an overnight in Minneapolis with mom, free breakfast at the Super 8, back on a plane to Chicago, 13 1/2 hours of flying time from Chicago to Seoul, South Korea (where that whole time consisted of sleeping, peeing, eating a Korean meal called Bibimbap - tasted like chicken and I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not, free wine, brownies, carrot cake, more free wine), a couple hours in South Korea before finally landing in Ho Chi Minh City. All that and we managed to follow the sun the entire time. I was running on adrenaline and mom on Coca Cola. We felt good.
36 Fast & Furious hours In Ho Chi Ming City
After landing in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly named Saigon, we were ready to take on this huge international city. And by huge, I mean occupied by 6.6 million people. We were lucky we landed at night because we were exhausted. I ended up sleeping for 10 hours straight. Teedo, on the other hand, was still on her Cola high and thought we were going to miss our Homestay in the South. Little did she remember, through her haze, the time difference is 12 hours not 24.
The following day, our first order of business (and what I was most excited about), meeting up with our friends Mike and Caroline (the Lindoxes!). Chip and I met Mike and Caroline in Grand Junction during residency and quickly became good friends due to their fun personalities and joy for life. Similar to us, they had just finished up a medical assignment in New Zealand and are celebrating by traveling for a few months before starting jobs in the US. It's great to be in Vietnam but even better to meet up with friends halfway across the world!
We spent much of the day wandering the streets of Ho Chi Minh City and dining at some delicious Vietnamese restaurants. We exchanged money (the Dong! Way more fun to say than Dollar), hit up the panoramic views at the Bitexco Financial Tower (tallest building in Vietnam), and enjoyed one of the city's parks. We were drained by 3pm and retired to our hotel rooms for an afternoon siesta. Three hours of rest and we were back on the insanely crazy streets to meet up for dinner with the Lindoxes. Which brings me to the insanely crazy streets, something everyone mentions about Vietnam. Picture this: hundreds of mopeds, cars and bikes (honking) and all trying to cross intersections at the same time but coming from different directions. Toss in families of 4 on these mopeds, an occasional bus or two, and top it off with pedestrians crossing in between. You leap in, walking in the midst of it by forming a horizontal line of people, you steadily cross the street as mopeds zoom inches from you, feeling the hot temperature of the exhaust on your legs. Don't look...just walk. You miraculously make it out alive. It feels like a frenzied mess but looking from the outside (once your breath slows down and the sweat stops pouring from every crevice) it's as if it's an orchestrated event (or normal traffic sped up 100 times). It's almost better than people watching.
It was a quick 36 hours but next up on our itinerary, jumping on a city bus and heading 4 hours south to the Mekong Delta. Caroline and Mike will be accompanying us and we'll all be staying with Mr. Hung and his family at a homestay for 2 nights on the outskirts of Can Tho. We're definitely looking forward to the slower pace of the Mekong Delta (which you'll hear more about later). I think we both enjoyed Ho Chi Minh City but are happy to see it shrinking away in the distance from our bus window.
Until next time -
Lindsay & Teedo