Have you ever seen that movie? The one with Robin Williams about the war in Vietnam? You really should see it, and learn a little bit about this beautiful country, which hasn’t changed that much since the war.
This is how I woke up on the second day… I woke up a whole hour late and missed my trip with Semester at Sea to the Mekong Delta. The only trip I was looking forward to the most. This meant, try and find a friend who didn’t venture off the beaches of Vung Tau, or who already left on the early morning flight to Cambodia, to independently make our way to the Mekong Delta. Good morning Vietnam and to a day of adventure. I was out of luck… it was already 9:20 and everyone else had already started their day. Luck turned around when I met a guy on the shuttle bus into the city who really wanted to venture that way but had no one to go with. His name was David and within 5 minutes of meeting one another we already committed the entire day to each other. 10 minutes later we were in a private car on our way to the Mekong Delta.
The river goes through most of South East Asia originating in China. We took boat rides through the river, and visited local family restaurants where we tried the fresh tropical fruits, like dragon fruit and fresh mango. To wash down the fruit we tried the local wines: Coconut wine that was accompanied by coconut candy, rice wine that you ate with rice bread, and my personal favourite: the snake wine. First they put a large Python around my neck. (Stay tuned for pictures). Then they grabbed a little shot glass, which they dipped into a large bucket of snake wine. In the bucket I could only count three snake heads, but I’m sure there were more, with a few scorpions added in for good measure. The wine went down harsh, and needed to be chased with some coconut wine. It was a painfully bliss experience, one that I will most likely never repeat again, but now at least I can say I did. Next up: Snake blood.
Back into Ho Chi Minh City, or most known as Saigon, we headed to the night markets for a few last minute gifts and purchases. I was finally able to buy myself a true Vietnamese rice hat for a whole 75 cents. What a splurge.
David and I found ourselves at Pho 2000, a restaurant right near the Ben Thanh Night Markets that has been made famous ever since the president, Bill Clinton ate there in 2000. The restaurant wasn’t anything special, more like a fast food place. We were, however, finally able to eat some traditional Vietnamese food: Pho. (Pronounced like FAH). Think of Ramen with a Vietnamese twist on it. Two large bowls of Pho later we were on our way back to ship to meet some friends around 9:30. It was time to experience Vietnamese night life.
9:15 is when I finally made my way to my room since 9:20 that morning. I quickly changed my dress and walked up to Tymitz Square to meet them, who lucky for me, never made it back on time. (This is why I hate not having a cell phone). Determined not to waist my last night in Vietnam, I was ready to go out by myself and find other SASers who I knew where on ‘bar street’. Making my way to the dock, I bumped into Shelley, a tiny girl from south east China who had never left her country before this trip and had never been to a bar. Curious, she asked if she could tag along and we both ventured out to the bar street. I was pretty naive thinking I would just be able to find people, since it had been easy in other ports like Hong Kong, but after almost 45 minutes of just walking around, we had no idea where we were going or where we had ended up. (Sorry mom and dad- I’m safe!). The streets of Vietnam are pretty safe, their lively and people are always awake. Security guards are found everywhere just sitting on chairs outside of fancy stores since pick pocketing is really the number one thing to look out for.
Calmly walking down the streets I felt someone behind me, who just wrapped their arms around me. At first I jumped, let out a little scream, thinking “looks like I’m a goner: Hello sex trade,” but when I turned around, it was just another SASer, Kyle, who was wandering around too. We had met once at the buffet line. Kyle managed to find another guy, Jeff, who was alone wandering. So there we were; 4 of us now, none of us had ever hung out before, and none of us knew where we were going.
*Check back or SUBSCRIBE for the next post to find out how our night turned out…*
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