24 September – Saigon
No alarm required to wake up, as the light from the sun streaming through the windows indicates night time is well and truly over.
Unfortunately, it’s not quite 6.30am.
Mental note is taken to close the curtains tonight….
With not too much in the way of plans ahead of us this morning; we do have an afternoon catch up with a friend later; remaining horizontal for a bit longer seems like a very good idea.
We doze for the next hour or so, listening to the sounds of a very much awake Saigon outside, before finally getting motivated enough to actually do something.
Laundry is starting to get out of hand, which you tend to notice as the available clean, and not smelly, clothes begin to dwindle, so that will be one little job for the day.
Although, it’s probably not really a job, when all you need to do is ‘drop’ them off, and not actually wash them yourself…..
We head downstairs around 8.30am, and the late, or early, arrivals from last night are already having breakfast. Shaun and Jessica, who happen to also be Aussies but who now spend much of their time in Bali, who flew in from Danang. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the easiest and problem free flight they’d hoped for, with both delay and baggage issues.
But being pretty laid back, they seemed to take it all in their stride.
We have a bit of a chat over a caphe sua da, and while it’s nice to hear a familiar accent, it’s nicer to actually talk to friendly people who enjoy an interaction.
Can be a bit hit and miss, sometimes….
Not being overly hungry; usual morning reluctance to eat / too much pho for dinner; I settle for a fresh baguette with jam. And Lisa has the same.
Breakfast out of the way, we head out to do a little more exploring. Which is just a fancy way of saying we’re going for a walk.
Laundry bag in hand, we set off in the rough direction of the main road. Down the first narrow road, and there’s a bit going on with several street vendors selling various foods, and then left onto the narrower lane where it’s purely pedestrians and bikes.
I really like it, and it feels like such a close knit community. Although, looking at how close they all live together, they really all need to get along.
It’s interesting, and it’s a very, very different way of life to what we normally see.
But the one thing that stands out the most?
You may not get much more than a hello, but it’s the way that it’s given, along with the smile and look in their eyes.
Yep, I really like it.
It doesn’t take long before we find a laundry place, and based solely on its convenient location, we decide to use them.
And because of where we are, minor details like price aren’t overly important. You just know that they’ll do the right thing by us.
We continue on, before turning right, and we’re soon on the busy and noisy street. It’s funny, you don’t really notice the traffic noise until you’re almost on the street itself. The hems, somehow, seem to muffle the sounds.
Turning left at the main road, only because we went a little bit down to the right last night, we still have no plans.
Well, that was until we got to the next intersection and saw a market over the road.
Finding walking past a market, without going in for a look, tougher than spending time with Lisa’s parents, we head across.
And as usual, it doesn’t disappoint. It’s certainly not a large market, but there’s still plenty to see, with all the usual stuff of meat, fruits and vegetables, clothes, jewellery, as well as everyday household items.
We’re not that far from the tourist hustle and bustle of another, much more well known market – Ben Thanh market – but I would walk past Ben Thanh to get to a much more authentic market like this, any day of the week.
And it seems we’re not the only ones, as there were a couple of other tourists there as well. Although, when I say couple, that was pretty much all it was.
I’m not sure if they noticed us, or if they just ignored us. I suspect it was the latter…..
We found a juice lady near the outside, and seeing as fresh juice is always good, as well as the fact that the Saigon heat was becoming a thing, we decide on a couple of pineapple ones at 25 000 Dong each.
Of course they were. I mean really, how can the juice not be good, when it comes from the greatest fruit ever invented???
Sipping our cooling drinks, we start heading back to the Little Saigon Homestay. We soon find our hem, and this navigational thing is all feeling very easy. It feels like home, and I feel like I know exactly where I am, and where we are going at any point in time.
Lisa, on the other hand, is completely and utterly lost. Yes, it’s never really been her thing, and it just astounds me even more that she found it so easy to get around Siem Reap.
Suspect that was very much a once off….
We get back and head upstairs to cool down a little, before then heading out again about 11.30am to fulfill our only real plan for the day.
And that is to meet up with Tung, who we stayed with in 2017, for lunch.
We could just head out and grab a taxi, but seeing both where we are, and Tung’s place, on a very small section of map on Maps.me, walking seems to be a more logical choice.
Back through our hems, onto the main road, and turn right. So far, so good.
We walk, and then walk some more.
It’s hot, it’s busy, it’s noisy. It’s Saigon.
And on we walk.
Checks of the map quickly make me question why we initially turned right. It seemed like the right idea back in the room, but it’s fast becoming apparent that it was perhaps not the greatest of ideas.
The walk continues, and for most of it, it feels like we are actually walking away from Tung’s.
Mainly because we are.
I’d like to blame Lisa, but I can’t.
We keep walking, and it keeps getting hotter.
Finally, we reach the road that we want to be on. A road, after walking it in 2017, that I was pretty sure I’d recognise once we found it.
We walk a little further, and up over towards the right, not too far in the distance, is a building that is just a few minutes’ walk from the homestay.
I feel like we’ve been walking in a big circle.
It does, however, confirm to me that we need to be on the other side of this road. Unfortunately, this particular road appears to be the widest and busiest road in all of Saigon. It also has a small fence, or barrier, down the centre, separating the lanes.
We head back from where we’ve just come, find a break in the fence, and take the leap of faith.
Down a side street, which fortunately, is much quieter. It also has a slightly familiar look to it, and for the first time, I have some confidence that we are headed in the right direction.
But I still don’t really know where we are, or where Tung’s place is, for that matter.
Our walk continues, still looking for recognisable landmarks. I’m sure we sat on this footpath having a caphe sua da, in 2017, but I can’t see the coffee shop.
Then, off to the left, a narrow side street that looks very familiar. And over the road, a narrow lane that looks like could be the place that has the morning market, that we visited last time.
We turn left, and up ahead is an apartment block that I think I recognise. And if it’s the one that I think it is, or maybe more hope it is, then we are close. We’re just on the wrong side of it, though.
Reaching the far end, we turn right, and a few metres up, we’re at a T-intersection.
And then, over to the left, something I remember from last time; a seafood restaurant.
I know where we are.
We turn right, now on the correct side of the apartment building, and sure enough, just up ahead, is Tung’s place.
Lisa is relieved.
But not as much as I am.
It’s nice to be back in an area that we have such fond memories of, and we’re soon sitting in air conditioned comfort catching up with Tung. It really is great to see him again.
Tung orders a Grab car and we head out to the main road we’d walked along earlier. A few minutes later it arrives and we’re quickly on our way to the restaurant. Around a few corners, and we’re on a very familiar looking road. And just up on the right, is our hem.
A minute or two later and we pull up outside a restaurant.
Yep, a restaurant that we walked past earlier, on our way to Tung’s. And when I say earlier, I mean about 10 minutes after we walked out the door of the Little Saigon Homestay.
It really was quite funny.
Being the eat to live type of person, I leave most of the ordering to Tung and Lisa. Lisa’s only request is that she would prefer not to have to deal with bones, so we somehow end up with a chicken dish, that has bones, as well as a fish dish, that also has bones.
Restaurant ordering can now be added to her navigating and directional issues.
Fortunately, the soup was boneless, as too was the beef dish.
All the food was really good, but it was more about just having the opportunity to catch up with a friend. Again, I can’t believe it’s been two years.
Lunch done, we said our goodbyes, and while Tung got a Grab car back, we decided it was easier to just walk back, seeing as we now knew where we were.
Quickly back in our hems, and Lisa is still challenged by where she actually is. It’s a slow process….
The heat, along with our decent walk and big lunch, results in a much needed recovery session of a nap, before heading out around 4.00pm to do my usual beer thing.
Deciding more walking to find an alternative beer place was not really desirable, I returned to the seafood restaurant.
Like yesterday, it’s alright, but still not exactly the type of place I prefer. My guy from the day before is nowhere to be seen, and instead, I have an older woman looking after me.
And she really was lovely, even pouring my beers for me.
It was nice to have her there, as it helped me take my mind off love bite girl, who, judging by the increase in number of marks on her neck, had obviously had a rather eventful night last night.
It’s such a great look…..
With a dinner date with Markus and Eleanor fast approaching, I head back to the room to get ready, stopping off along the way for a few take away Tiger beers at 15 000 Dong each.
Khoi, from Water Buffalo Tours, who had organised our 2017 Mekong Delta trip, has been trying to message me. He’s once again arranging another tour for us, but this time it’s an overnight trip in a couple of days, to Can Gio.
Giving him a call, we arrange to meet up tomorrow night to talk about it. Apart from knowing that Can Gio is in a mangrove area, I don’t know much else about it, nor what to expect. But I am really looking forward to experiencing it.
But more than that, I’m really looking forward to seeing Khoi again.
He’s had a hand in some of our most memorable times in southern Vietnam, and for that, I am truly grateful.
Shower done, we’re soon with Markus and Eleanor in our second Grab car of the day. The destination this time is a street that is filled with various street foods, which I guess makes it a street food street. It’s apparently in the same area as the Ho Thi Ky Flower market, and is in District 10.
Which, because we are in District 1, seems like it might be a long way away.
Out on to the main streets, and while the traffic is always busy in Saigon, sometimes it’s even more so. And tonight is one of those. It is absolutely madness.
Knowing that we are on the main road with the big roundabouts that we walked down earlier today, but not having any idea of where we are actually going, I sit back and enjoy the ride.
But not for long, as we soon pull up next to a narrow side street.
We’re here, and my assumption that District 10 would be a fair way from District 1, couldn’t be more incorrect.
In fact, we probably walked further this morning, than our Grab car journey tonight.
We leave the food selection to Markus and Eleanor, which I’m more than happy about, and we have some little spring roll type things, which are pretty good. They’re then followed with some sausage type things in lemongrass, which are beautiful. To finish off, we have one of those Vietnamese style pizzas, which we had for the first time back in 2017 in Can Tho, and just like that particular occasion, it’s also good.
So yeah, essentially it was spring rolls, sausage and pizza, and that’s about as good as I can do, seeing as foodie extraordinaire, I am not.
Eat to live, eat to live…..
But that’s alright, as once again, it was all about where we were, and who we were with. And Markus and Eleanor, as I first thought when we initially met yesterday, really are a lovely couple. Very easy to talk to, and was nice to hear a little about their plans.
The food bit done, we headed off for a look around the flower market. It may not have been the vibrant food market that I always love, but it was still very interesting to see.
So many flower varieties, and just so much colour.
Markus calls another Grab car to get us home, and the trip takes less time that it took for the car to actually arrive.
Back home a bit after 9.00pm, and not quite ready to call it a night just yet, we adjourn to the bed for the usual.
Although I did have to make a quick beer run, seeing as those earlier Tiger beers had somehow disappeared.
Back out our lane, and turn right. And there, just a couple of doors up, a little mum and dad convenience store with plenty of 333 beer in the fridge.
I’m really not sure how I missed that earlier today….
I head in, and my beer guy is a little surprised to see me.
And he’s probably more surprised when I give him a fair chunk of my Vietnamese vocabulary; hate trying to say that word….; by using ‘ba ba ba’ (three three three) to order my beer.
He was a nice guy, and with his beers at just 11 000 Dong each, and them being Vietnamese and not Singaporean, he’s going to be my go-to beer man from now on.
He just doesn’t know that yet.
Back to the room to contemplate our day, over a beer or two. As well as think about what we might do tomorrow.
And once again, no real plans. Although we do have to try and complete one small shopping task, and that is to try and find a picture frame for a drawing that Lisa has done.
It’s a small gift for someone we have never met, although we have met her fiancé. And it’s a been a while since we last saw him; three and a half years, in fact. And in this very city.
I’m looking forward to seeing him again, as well as his now, better half, and hopefully that will happen after we get back from Can Gio.