As promised, I’m sharing more snaps from our stay in HCMC. Though we were scheduled to leave yesterday, we extended our stay through tomorrow night to give us a little more time to soak up this crazy and wonderful city.
While we’re still not adjusted to the heat (will we ever be, really?), I feel like we are starting to get the hang of this place. We’re learning some key Vietnamese phrases (hello, goodbye, thank you, please, two, beer, the bill/check, toilet), eating at truly local joints, and dare I say, even blending in some … as much as we can for Americans, anyway.
The highlight of our stay thus far has been renting motorbikes today. Totally fun, and absolutely the best way to see the city.
I’ll admit that riding a motorbike in HCMC really intimidated me, despite the fact that I have some experience riding in the good old United States of Traffic Safety.
But, riding here isn’t actually as terrifying as it looks, I promise! Some key tips: go slowly; pay attention to everything and don’t assume others are looking out for you (though they often are); hesitation only causes confusion, so act decisively and consistently; and use your horn liberally. Horns actually serve a purpose here beyond expressing road rage. Plus, horns are fun!
- I got a mild case of food poisoning two nights ago. I pride myself on being adventurous when it comes to eating, but perhaps I am overly so. No matter … I am as good as new today and enjoyed one of the top 10 dishes I’ve ever eaten – cua lot xao me (deep-fried soft-shell crab with tamarind sauce) at Quan 94. If you ever find yourself in HCMC, do yourself a favor and seek this place out.
- I was the target of an unsuccessful mugging today. We were stopped along the curb of a quiet little side street, and I was consulting Google maps for our location when WHAM. Blow to the face. In shock, my first thought was that someone had accidentally bumped into me … close quarters and all. But as the fog wore off, I realized I had felt a hand close around my “phone hand”, and all of that slamming straight into my face a few moments later. Lest our parents start freaking out at this point, all is fine, including my face, and the perps did not make off with our phone. Ha! I am determined not to let riffraff like that sway my view of HCMC residents, as there were so many helpful people pointing us along our route today. They are the ones that deserve discussion.
With one day left to go here, we’ve got a few things on the docket, namely: buying motorbikes of our own, shooting some video footage around town, and taking in a showing of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”, or as it is known here, “The Arena of Life and Death: Catching Fire.” The literalist in me much prefers the Vietnamese title.
I’ll close today by sharing the first thing I officially miss about America: napkins (both paper and cloth) and toilet paper. Napkins are generally not free (around $.19 per wet nap, which is ubiquitous in these parts), and, if they are, they tend to be paper and disintegrate upon contact. And, if the napkins are that bad, I’m sure you can imagine the quality of the TP. Charmin, I took you for granted. I’m sorry.
Peace, love, and happiness –