Ho Chi Minh City – I just don’t think I’m a “chaotic city” kind of gal [South East Asia Series 2019.2020]

I’ve got very (very) mixed feelings about HCMC. I’ll start with the bad bit, get it out of the way and then focus on the good stuff.

I arrived in HCMC and immediately got ripped off by a cab driver. To be fair, I kind of knew it was a scam but I was so tired from the trip down from Phnom Penh and just so out of it that I accepted the ride that I could have walked in 5/10min. It cost me £30. In London that would be the equivalent of getting a cab ride from Piccadilly circus to Covent Garden and having paid £100. Or in lisbon…. a ride from the airport to Arroios and having to pay €60. Let’s just say I’m still feeling fairly angry about it and this has kind of given me a bad feeling about the city, but I’m really trying to get over it. The only thing I can do at this point is warn other travellers.

Please please please do not accept any ride from anyone as soon as you’re off your bus, plane, whatever. Don’t even talk to taxi/motorbike drivers. Just take some time to gather your shit, breathe and see if you can walk. If not, download the app Grab. It’s like Uber but in HCMC.

So…. moving on (or trying). I was fairly doubtful about coming to HCMC after my experience in Phnom Penh. The chaos in there really put me off and PP is the dirtiest city I’ve ever been to (and I’ve been to a fair few). HCMC was supposed to be even more chaotic and yes, it is absolute chaos but somehow it feels a bit more manageable. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that there’s more motorbikes and less tuk tuks and at least there’s some cross roads, but it feels more manageable.

Also… coffee shops! There is just one reason why I might have considered staying here for a bit longer… the coffee shops. They’re everywhere and they all look amazing! I would have loved to explore that side of the city a bit more but with my distaste for overly chaotic cities and my commitment to not spending any more money in the city that “robbed me” as soon as I arrived, I just decided it wasn’t worth it. Let’s face it… I live in London and come from Lisbon… new coffee shops is something I can find in both cities regularly.

I spent just a day an a half in the city and did the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Mekong Delta tour.

The Cu Chi Tunnels, as predicted, was very crowded. In a way it really bugs me to take pictures in sites like this (or do activities like shooting, which is available for tourists) mainly because of its sad and tragic history.

However, I did enjoy understanding how the tunnels worked, how the air ventilation was planned differently for the different floors, how the soldiers moved around and avoided being killed for so many years. When it comes to pictures… I took one a picture of the small entrances to the tunnels (already enlarged by 30% so that we can now fit in them) and that was pretty much all the pictures/videos I took.

I didn’t meet a lot of people in HCMC (to be fair, was only there for a day).

However, halfway through my Cu Chi Tunnels and Mekong Delta tour I met Sam, who was on the wrong tour by mistake and joined ours halfway. And I’m so thankful I met him! We talked for hours whilst everyone else was sleeping and trust me, it was all I needed to improve my mood. Sam is a graphic designer from London (born and raised…. you don’t find a lot of them anymore). Thank you for sharing your travelling adventures with me and for listening as I shared mine. Thank you for getting me out of my little “bad mood antisocial bubble” that I guess every traveller goes through once in a while. I’m very jealous of all of your travelling plans for next year and I really hope it’s all as amazing as you’re hoping it will be.

And regarding the not knowing what to do in the future and all those conflicting thoughts… I think I can sympathise a little bit. Our conversation reminded me of the following quote by Mary Schmich “Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t ”.

I know I still don’t.

Also… “Wear Sunscreen”. Watch it and enjoy 🙂

We’ll catch up in London soon 🙂

Tonight I get on my first overnight train ever (with a bed and all).

Before I go… two lessons for me:

⁃ Take it easy. Shit will happen and the only thing you can do is learn from it. Try not to let it ruin the rest of your amazing trip.

⁃ You’ll like some places and others you won’t. That’s ok. Take it on board.

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