Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hangin' Out in Ho Chi Minh

After a couple of days in the Delta, Nick and I moved on up to Ho Chi Minh City to hang out and wait for Aimee to meet up with us. We headed to the main backpacker area on Pham Ngu Lao which is locally known as “foreigner town”. When we got there, we found a great little guesthouse tucked back in a small residential alley.

The alley is great because even though we’re completely surrounded by guesthouses and hostels, it feels like we’re staying in a little Vietnamese neighborhood. In the mornings, there’s even a little informal market set up with a butcher and some fruit vendors.

Lining the alley from the morning until after sunset are small food stands. One of them has my favorite Vietnamese dish: cold noodles with fried meat, julienne carrots, spring rolls, cucumber, basil and cilantro, and sweet and sour chili sauce. It’s delicious.
 Nick sitting down for my favorite Vietnamese dish: cold noodles served on the street
At any time in our alley you can find children are playing, people sitting on their stoops eating noodles, women getting pedicures, and people lounging in plastic chairs drinking ice coffee. It’s great, I love it here.

Across the street from the entrance to the alley is a long, narrow park where locals go to get some exercise in the evenings. There are people playing volleyball and badminton, takraw and shuttlecock, and lots of people walking or jogging.

Old lady exercise in the park

And to facilitate the people in their quest for physical fitness, the government has installed fitness equipment in the parks including abdominal swivel stands and even a ellipticals. They seem to be pretty popular and after testing them out, I can see why!

 getin' my workout on
No need to join a gym here in Vietnam, just head to the local park where you can find everything from group aerobics classes to exercise equipment.

For our first 4 days in the city, I have to admit, we didn’t do too much. We spent a lot of time hanging out in coffee shops, relaxing in our hotel room, and just generally lounging around the city. (We’re saving most of our sight-seeing time for when Aimee gets here)

But while our days have been pretty quiet, our nights have been quite the opposite.
Me, Nick, and Trang

My sister happens to have a friend who lives here in HCMC and she was gracious enough to take Nick and me out three nights in a row. Her name is Trang and she was awesome. I only gave her one day’s notice of our arrival, but she still came to meet up with us right after work and take us out for dinner and drinks every night.

Trang fixing our BBQ at the first restaurant we went to in HCM

On Friday night she even organized a big get together with her friends who took us out for Vietnamese food and to a hip-hop show later in the evening. Since we left Taiwan, this was the first time we had a local guide to show us around and help us find good food and good music, so that was pretty awesome.

 me and the girls at dinner on Friday night
Group shot of everyone with "Akil the MC" from Jurassic 5

And now, Trang has flown to Malaysia on business and Aimee is only hours away from landing in Vietnam. As of today, Nick and I have exactly three weeks left of our trip and we will spend the rest of our time making our way north through Vietnam with Aimee. Before you know it we’ll be back the US, but for now, we’re just soaking it all in here in Vietnam.
Old school motorbike and side car outside of Acoustic Cafe in HCM


  1. why there is no "like" button here for me to hit? :) I love this!! x