Saigon, Vietnam

I’m entirely too tired to write anything substantial, but it should be noted that Saigon has rekindled my love for traveling after the Philippines rained heavily on this one-woman parade.

Overlooking Saigon

Overlooking Saigon

I arrived in Vietnam at 2 in the morning, met a guy in the airport from the North Pole, slept outside in the company of voracious mosquitoes until sunrise, arrived at a lovely person’s house at 8 am to couchsurf, slept for 14 hours, and spent the next day exploring Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon.

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I wandered around the War Remnants Museum, felt terrible about being an American, and met with my new friend from the North Pole.  I asked him about Santa, and spent the day learning about Inuit culture while playing fetch with his four-year-old daughter and a pink balloon.

We explored  until nightfall, ending at the top of the highest building in Saigon, overlooking the city from a 360 degree birds eye view.  At the end of the day, I came to one conclusion: I am totally in love with this place.

For the first time in months, I can say I am truly thrilled to be here.  I haven’t, until now, found a city in Asia that I actually like, let alone one that I love.  But this one just tickles my fancy.  You know, there are some cities I’ve passed through that seem to strike me with a word.  That word comes to mind almost continuously as I wander around. For example, in Bandar Seri Begawan, that word was “bizarre.”  Well, in Saigon, that word is “charming.”  It’s truly just charming.

Oh, and I’ve been eating delicious food and lots of it:

Baguettes with pate and salad

Baguettes with pate and salad

Since Vietnam was under French occupation for many years in the early 1900′s there is a strong French influence permeating Vietnamese cuisine and culture.  It is evident in the European-inspired buildings and the delicious  Pâté-like-meat sold widely along the streets with freshly baked baguette.  Now I’m feeling a bit silly for booking a flight to France in an impulsively frustrated moment of despair and longing for cheese and wine and fresh vegetables after months of rice and catfood… (more on that later).

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But even though I will be in France soon, devouring cheese and a highly upsetting rate both temporally and financially, I am relishing the French-inspired food here.  Not only that, but the Vietnamese food is some of the best food I’ve had during my entire time in Asia.  It has flavor, nutrition, and beauty, and it usually doesn’t involve rice!  Pho noodle soup with rare beef, lime, fresh bean sprouts and basil…this makes all my suffering on the Philippines seem like ancient history.

Huong, my CS host, and some Pho with rare beef and fresh basil

Huong, my CS host, and some Pho with rare beef and fresh basil

So my tastebuds have forgiven me for months of abuse, my ear is slowly on the mend (and didn’t rupture when I flew here), and my eyes are marveling at the sights around me.  The only sense that isn’t being happily stimulated is my olfactory system.  With 8 million motorbikes in Saigon, air pollution is something you can feel in your nose as you take a breath in.  My first night here, I purchased the local asthma-preventing attire for .50 cents.  Hopefully, I will keep my respiratory system in reasonable health while my fashion-sense suffers slightly.

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All for now.  It’s bedtime in Vietnam, the most lovely country ever.

6 Responses to Saigon, Vietnam

  1. Rachel

    Glad you’re feeling better and in a place that brings you joy once again!

    PS – Just noticed the “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt” tattoo. That makes me smile :)

  2. tina

    I think the mask is very fashionable………if you like ska!

    • Anoush

      my mom and her fashion sense. what would i do without it?

  3. Aram

    again with the love. I’m happy for you.

  4. Tabs

    yay saigon! this I am jealous of, of all the food in the world vietnamese is at the very top of my list. it is DELICIOUS on all counts and I could eat pho all day and I loooooove Banh mi (pate + veggies + baguette=yummmm)

    I fly out to istanbul on June 6th….pleaseeeee come visit meeeeee. I will have a couch for youuuu
    xoxo

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