*I apologize for the lack of good photos. As soon as I can get photos off the camera that Sean so graciously lent me for the trip, I’ll post them. For now, I’ve got my mobile phone photos.
It was our last day in Vietnam, and we only had about 8 hours to spend in Ho Chi Minh City. We spent our time roaming the streets, drinking more coffee, eating more delicious food, and hanging out with fellow travelers. During a grand adventure to locate the best coffee in Vietnam, as recommended by a waiter on Bui Vien Street, we ran into three Aussies we’d met on our trip to Ha Long Bay. The world of world travelers is small! Kerrie, James, and Phi are Vietnamese-Australians who were basically doing the same trip as us, and we happened upon them in a Trung Nguyen coffee shop. It was so fun to see them again, talk about our travels, and discuss the amazingness that is Vietnamese coffee. They were heading back to Melbourne the next morning, I was going back to Bangkok, and my four friends were continuing on to Angkor Wat in Cambodia (I decided I’d see it another time; my sore hip and extreme valuing of time made me reconsider the 20 hours on a bus over 72 hours).
We were galavanting around the city with two guys we’d met on our bus to the tunnels that morning: Daniel from Brazil (who lives on the university campus in Bangkok where we all teach!) and Elvie from Alberta (who is fluent in French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian). I spoke Spanish with these two gents for hours, and even learned that I can understand Brazilian Portuguese (which will come in handy in a little over a year!).
I ate some fabulous Indian food and had the best iced coffee with soy that I’ve ever had. Then I met back up with the girls, who had been spotted by Daniel and Elvie. The seven of us took off to find two types of coffee: Trung Nguyen (recommended by the waiter) and coffee beans that had been pooped out by a weasel. Yes, that’s right. Daniel had purchased some the day before after sampling it and finding it to be quite delicious. So off we went. Our adventure took several hours. It was successful, and along the way we saw:
– millions of motorbikes (literally…HCMC has 10 million people and 5 million motorbikes)
– a flower market for Tet decor
– beautiful street lights and more decor
– lots of coffee shops that were not what we were looking for
– Mexican restaurants
– lots of people, many of whom smiled at us
– cute kids who were not shy and loved to say, “Hello!”
– people eating on the streets like in Bangkok
– a few skyscrapers
– our friends from Melbourne (at Trung Nguyen)
We eventually found the weasel poop coffee too. I haven’t tried it yet, Sean is not interested, and so it may become a souvenir for my co-worker! He’s brave.
It was so fun wandering around this city. It cooled down after being very hot that afternoon, which was a relief. We ended the night with a very late dinner (I had a coconut smoothie too), and then we made it back to our hotel. The hotel, by the way, was fantastic. They served us free breakfast on a little balcony terrace, and the people who run it are so kind and helpful.
In case there are fellow world travelers reading my blog, I’d love to take a second to promote the places where we stayed and ate in Vietnam. I wholeheartedly recommend them all. We were not once disappointed! I love Vietnam, and I hope this wasn’t my only trip there.
Vietnam Backpackers Hostel – Hanoi (we stayed in the “new” Old Quarter one, dorm style, bar, pool tables)
Restaurant 69 (awesome atmosphere)
Gecko Cafe (really good coffee, great service)
Green Field Hotel (we were also told about Sunflower Hotel, which looks similar)
the restaurant on the same side of the street as Green Field, heading toward the beach
SON Hoi An Restaurant (right on the river, tasty food, A+ eggplant in clay pot!)
Ho Chi Minh City:
Hong Han Hotel (we booked through Hostel World; $18 airport pick-up, free breakfast, nice staff)
Baba’s Kitchen (Indian food, delicious, attentive waiters)
Bobby Brewers (excellent coffee and they have soymilk!)
Trung Nguyen (“best coffee in Vietnam”; Sean and I tried it…it’s spectacular)