Saigon Diaries - Day 1 & 2

So I packed it all up and came to Ho Chi Minh. Will be staying for a lengthy period of time. Am training at a later date, but for now just getting used to the place. Irish dude, early 30s, looking for other expats near Go Vap or other nearby districts, and /or looking for cafes/bars/restaurants to meet english speakers. Wouldnt mind meeting some local vietnamese english speakers too as I need to learn some of the langauge. Looking for a good place to buy a bicycle also.

Day 1 -

After learning off some basic vietnamese I marched down the stairs to the hotel desk and politely said "toi co the mua hai nuoc, xin vui long", which I thought ment "can I buy 2 water please". After rehearsing it in the mirror for about 20 minutes, and also putting on a vietnamese accent to boot, I was confident she would at least half understand me. But instead of getting the water, she just shared straight into my eyes in the most confused and curious way. After about 10 seconds of awkward silence I pointed at the fridge. She spoke in perfect english, "you want?", "errr, water please, 2" I replied.

Operation 'speak a sentence of vietnamese' was a failure. And with the psychological scarring of this incident, I ventured out into the mean streets of 'Go Vap'.   

I had studied carefully videos of the traffic and streets of Ho Chi Minh, but of course, this was no preparation for the reality. Almost immediately I had to jump out of the way of a pavement mounting scooter, nearly falling into a large bucket of frogs in the process. After having a nice cool viet-coffee in a coffee shop I became staggered by the heat and had to return to base.

I come from cold rock off the coast of another cold rock off the northwestern part of europe. Walking down the street in Ho Chi Minh is like being engulfed in flame, basically.

Day 2 -

With some basic experience under my belt I set out again, but with a plan this time. Objectives 1 & 2; Find a supermarket and find a place to buy a cheap bicycle. Almost immediately I broke out into an almighty sweaty mess. I took cover in a coffee shop to cool down and dry out, reapplying my max 50,000+ ultra solar radiation protection lotion, which by now was melting off into my eyes, causing even more incoherence.

From cover to cover I moved, feverishly using the wifi in each coffee shop to track my progress on google earth. Having dashed across the extremely busy 'Quang Trung' road, I got stuck half way at a little opening in the fence. "Hello", "Hello", "Hello" they said, as they whizzed by. As if I was hanging out trying to make friends, while clinging on for dear life. Although it is nice to be greeted :-). Before long I was joined by a mask wearing local woman, who excitedly said somthing in vietnamese to me. I assume she said "GO NOW!" as she pushed me into a brief opening through the traffic. Was she trying to save me? Or was she just trying to get through the fence I was blocking? I will never know.

With the sun now bearing down on me and no coffee shop in sight for cover, I moved toward a little shop that had an umbrella and beer.  And then, BANG! Somthing smacked me in the forehead. It was a hard enough hit, but not enough to knock me out and I just about kept my balance. I looked back to see a poster flailing from a lamp post in the wind. It had a wooden pole going through the bottom segment of it, hitting me exactly width-ways at the perfect angle. There was no blood, but there was the cheers and laughter of the locals, who had just witnessed the most hilarious thing they had seen all day. One old man in particular got a good giggle out of it, giving me cheeky grin and a thumbs up as I stumbled away holding my head. Its worth noting that the swinging poster pole may have been hanging at the perfect level to head shot a taller tourist, while perhaps missing the average vietnamese person.

Battered and bruised, I made my way back to base having failed in both objectives. However, I did take some solace in a warm can of Heineken and a packet of salted seaweed pringles which I picked up on the way back.......... at least I had somthing to show for the expedition, apart from the bump on my forehead.

Loved the sheer honesty. I'm an Aussie, here for a couple more months. Keen for a warm beer and a chat at some point if you are. I'm in district 3 but have a bicycle so can venture anywhere. :)

Hey, I'm in Go Vap too so if you're still looking for people to talk to, feel free to contact me 😊 Let's help each other out !

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