I land in the airport of former Saigon surrounded by Vietnamese people who put their feet up in the plane’s seats. Instant cultural shock, just after leaving Taiwan. After more than an hour waiting to go through passport control, I go out and see a few bus stops. In the airport’s website it said that two of them, were the ones that locals used, so there I went. A girl picked the money and the driver helped people with their luggage. The more we were into the city, the more horns we could hear and the more motorbikes we could see surrounding the bus. There were so many that the girl would take her arm out and shout at the motorbikes to tell them the bus was about to stop. Slowly, they would go by and the bus would be able to eventually stop to let people in and out.
I already knew I was not going to have internet on my phone in Vietnam, but I didn’t expect the GPS on Google Maps to not work at that time. I found myself at my bus stop, with the phone and google maps on my hand but no idea where to go. I asked in a ramdon shop and they told me to go through a street with people buying and selling with their bikes, motorbikes, trolleys, clothes in the floor… fruits, veggies, clothes, Vietnamese hats, etc. All of these in the actual street where people are supposed to walk. Also, I was carrying a cabin luggage, with wheels. Yay.
I arrive to my hostel and after a shower, I go to have a quick dinner and go to sleep. Tomorrow will be another day and I won’t have to take the luggage with me.
I have breakfast at the hostel and ask what to see in Ho Chi Minh city. I get out of the hostel and find myself in such a heat and humidity that neither my black leggins neither I predicted. I start walking and I have the same feeling as the day before. I’m anxious and uncomfortable. In my head, I was like: I do not know the language, the culture, the city… What am I doing here alone? How on earth did I think this was an okay idea? Not good, just okay? How? Okay, I’m here now, I’m just going to wing it and enjoy and discover new things.
I go to the most famous local market, where most tourists buy all their souvenirs. I also think it is the best place to see how locals interact with each other. I realise that they are not as smily as they are in Taiwan. If they do smile, it’s cause you are doing a transaction with them. There is a part with food and another with clothes and ramdon stuff. Since my luggage is full already, I just look around and repeat as if it was a mantra “no, thank you”.
I keep walking and arrive to the War Museum, where they showcase the point of view from the Vietnamese people. I don’t know anything about this topic, so I am surprised and sad to learn the amount of people that died, both Americans and Vietnamese, that the reason why the war started was for the fear of the US of Vietnam becoming a communist country, that a gas called “Orange Agent” was used and caused several generational illnesses; also the way they tortured people and more details.
The next day I don’t feel like going out and being uncomfortable with the city’s traffic, but I meet two girls at the hostel and we go for lunch and to see the Notre Dame Cathedral of Ho Chi Minh city, which was underconstruction, but we just went for a walk and I got to talk to two awesome girls.