The Leap To Vietnam

My ability to block everything when I want to focus on only one thing has always been a welcomed respite; however I have to admit that it also irks most of the people around me because they don’t know what’s going on inside my wormy brain when I’m in that state. Obviously, my last two weeks have been hell and like things that I prefer to keep to myself, ‘mum’ will be the word and ‘run away’ will be the next.

I have had enough of the ‘mum.’ (You can put another meaning to that statement if you know me well enough.) so now I have packed my bags again and ended up in one of the countries in my bucket list – Vietnam.

ho chi minh airport

When I landed in Tan Son Nhat International Airport, I was worrying about how to get from the airport to my guesthouse in District 1. I have heard so many horror stories about the taxis in Vietnam and I dreaded having such an encounter. I honestly just didn’t have the propensity to argue with anybody these days.  I read in several reviews that I should only get on a Vinasun or Mai Linh taxi because all other taxis will scam you into submission (Oh they will cross swords with you!) and if one is not ready for this, an airport taxi (reliable they say) which will cost you $8 and a public bus which will cost you VND5,000 were the other options.

bus 152 Bus #152’s last stop is Ben Tanh Market in District 1, the backpacker’s haven!

I thanked my lucky stars for making it easy for me to find the bus. All I had to do was to turn right as soon as I exited the arrival gate and walk a few meters. They were quite easy to spot and the #152 was clearly seen. The bus was almost full when I got there but I was quite willing to stand the whole way if I had to. I paid the driver and sat down beside a local who was reading a Spanish itinerary. It turned out that he was quite fluent and actually went to college in Cuba. He was the first friend I met in Vietnam, and his name is Cui. I swear when he was asking me if I knew how to speak Spanish, I almost orated Jose Rizal’s Mi Ultimo Adios! (Adios, Patria adorada, region del sol querida…Perla del mar de oriente, nuestro perdido Eden! — What the hell! Damn you Sir Ventura, I still know it by heart.)

I really enjoyed talking with Cui. I loved listening to him speak English with his thick Spanish accent. The contrast between what I was hearing with what I was seeing was so deliciously common in this part of Asia. You can observe the similarity in the food, the knick-knacks (for lack of a better term), and the buildings all over Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon), only this time the influence was not Spanish but richly French.

DSC_0004 Meet Cui, my first friend in Vietnam! (I knew it, you were thinking he was some young hunk…I gotcha!)

It turned out that Cui was also hopping off in Ben Tanh Market which was perfect because that was, at least I thought, was the closest landmark to my guesthouse. I was so enchanted with Cui’s stories and the gazillion motorbikes flashing before my eyes that I stopped paying attention to the people who were getting on and off the bus. My conversation with my newfound friend was interrupted by a tap on the shoulder by a foreigner who told me that if I wanted to walk the shorter route to the street where my guesthouse was located, then I should get off at the bus stop where he was getting off which was right there and then. He was already about to hop off, I didn’t even bother asking Cui if the foreigner was correct and just followed this stranger. I discovered later that he had been standing behind my seat all along and was listening to my conversation with Cui; thus, explaining why he knows the street of the guesthouse where I was booked.

Okay, my friend Doi wll probably have a heart attack if she knows about this. She always nags me about impulsive decisions like this one. I can imagine her saying now, “Den, you don’t know that person!” with her eyes bulging, threatening to pop out. I do know the guy. His name is Matthew and he is from Alberta, Canada vacationing for a few days in Saigon and he is checked-in  at a hotel which was a few meters away from my guesthouse. He gave me helpful pointers about surviving the city and where the best coffee was. And oh yeah, he is not unattractive. So there.

Relax people. It turned out that he was right and that his intentions were quite noble. I think, with everything he shared with me, I got more from him than what he got from me.

I arrived at the Y Nhi Guesthouse sane and was warmly greeted by the couple who owned the place. (Reminder: Make a review in TravelAdvisor!) If this kind of treatment will be consistent for the next days, I will write a novel about this place. The couple gave me a map so I won’t get lost, arranged the Tan Ninh tour for me, and they were clucking like a concerned mother hen about safety which I appreciated a lot. Sure, the place was not a palace but it was cozy and clean; and for an accommodation that was just a walking distance to most of Saigon’s must-see places, I would say that the price I paid for was practical.

y nhi guesthouseY Nhi Guesthouse – great location, friendly owners, and perfectly fits a budget trip!

And that ends my first morning in Saigon.

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Comments

  1. ahahaha. i didn’t see myself doing what you just narrated Den. LOL. I would just simply thank the guy and confirm w/ Cui if trulaloo what he said or perhaps ask the driver. hehe. but then again, you always have your instincts to guide you when bad forces come your way so i hope you didn’t forget to thank Matthew for reminding you to get out of the bus. basin si Cui pa diay ang stalker ba. hahaha. and as usual, guy magnet jud ka! looking forward to reading bout Matthew in the next coming articles. hahaha.

  2. @Doi : hahaha…di ba ka ma-heart attack doi? kay last time I hopped on a motorcycle with some new friends, you were ehem “uneasy”? anyway, i wish you were with me…namayat akong legs sa sige og baklay…i loved the exercise…

    • ayay. avoiding the matthew topic hap! hahaha. ako nitambok super den. miss you na. wish i was there para mangayayat na ko. hahaha

      • Likay likay ta diri kay lisod ng mainterogate nimu. lol. mishu for real doiskie. Visit me soon.w

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