So, Richard and I spent our first month in Vietnam in the Go Vap district of Saigon (which is Formally known as Ho Chi minh but generally referred to by its previous name. This confused me.) Go Vap is not a tourist district, I understand that it is more residential. It is also on a hill. I know these things because I read them in tour guides. It does not appear particularly hilly. Go Vap has an amazing orphanage and a cool Vietnamese style café, neither of which I went to, although I badly wanted to. That said, we did go to the War Remnants Museum (District one). This is essential. If you are in Ho chi minh then you must do this. It’s as horrible and shocking as it should be, upstairs has a crèche for the easily traumatised. Complete strangers will ask you if you have been, so just go.
We were slightly low on funds at this point in our journey, having been so badly bamboozled in India, so we ‘decided’ to live in a cost conscious manner until we got paid and do local things, for local people.
This turned out to be a little bit difficult because we had some communication issues, turns out they speak Vietnamese over there, that’s like, a whole ‘nother language. Thus began a month of smiling, nodding and pointing at things. Sometimes we even got what we were hoping for.
There were many fine rats the size of guinea pigs, motorbikes on the pavement, whole roast pigs and banana fritters.
We found a Vietnamese café that sold Vietnamese coffee, Ice cream and a fruit drink called ‘lucky star’ which was awesome. I don’t know what was in it. There was also a market that sold fruits and veg I had never seen, fish, meat and best of all it had frogs. Bouncy ones. Though I wouldn’t have actually called those frogs myself, I would have gone with ‘lumpy green toads the size of my hand’.
Sometimes we went to district one and had a look around, I don’t know why tourists go there. sure, you can talk to people, sure, you know what your ordering, Sure, you can shop. But can you get a taxi to the wrong place and walk two kilometres to your destination? Which you then only find by asking people who don’t know what your saying for directions? Then when you get there (to a swimming pool as it turns out) you have to, just sort of walk about like you own the place until people work out that you want to swim and direct you to the changing rooms? and probably tell you what time you have to get out-but your not really sure?
We met an ex-pat in Vietnam who said ‘Vietnam is just one big misunderstanding’ this is true. if you don’t speak Vietnamese you will have no idea. It’s awesome.
all in all, I really liked it and kind of miss it. The people were nice and some of them looked out for us because we were clearly morons, such as; the nice lady at the corner shop, or the patient waitresses at our usual places. This one time we passed some people smoking what looked like opium on the street and they very kindly offered us some, they only laughed when we walked away quickly, but maybe that is to be expected.