Getting to Vietnam
I made my way to Perth airport to catch the red-eye to Ho ChiMinh City. The first hurdle here was arriving at the check-in desk at Perth International.
“Do you have a return flight or onward ticket from Vietnam?” the lady behind the counter asked me.
“No….should I?” I replied.
I’d been so organised applying for my visa, getting all the necessary vaccinations, planning my itinerary through the rest of south-east Asia.
“Yes unfortunately I cannot let you check in to this flight without one”
Oh god, I was already late! I hastily ran upstairs to a cafe with WI-FI and logged on to skyscanner.com. I have never found and booked a flight so fast. It usually takes me hours of deliberation and comparison. Not this time: one way ticket (Vietnam Airline) from Hanoi to Vientiane in Laos, the cheapest flight as I had no idea if I’d actually be in Hanoi on this date let alone ready to leave the country.
The first day
Well it all worked out fine (the flight was delayed in the end anyway so my panicked flight purchase was unnecessary but never mind!), landed at Ho Chi Minh City at around 9am. We caught a bus to Phom Ngu Lao in the centre where I’d booked a hostel for the first three nights, My My Art House. The hostel was a small but stylish place, down the side alleyways which was like a maze through the city, hidden behind the main streets, where the locals lived, their houses open to the street where they would cook their meals, sell groceries to one another, watch their TVs and just go about their daily activities.
I loved it, they were so curious about backpackers wandering through but at the same time so welcoming it was a great feeling to be a part of it.
This was my first time in Asia, and what an eye opener! I’ll end this post with a entry from my journal which I wrote whilst enjoying a traditional Vietnamese coffee and a bånh mi (egg and cucumber roll with hot sauce – classic), at what I’d say was a cafe but actually I rather think it was just a family’s house backed onto the street…
“The traffic is insane. Thousands of motorbikes pouring in every direction, driving on the wrong side of the road, swerving around cars, buses and coaches. Families of four or five precariously balanced on one moped. Old ladies pushing huge carts full of fruit which are so over loaded and stacked so high that they can’t possibly see where they’re going, pushing them diagonally across vast intersections of rush hour traffic while the cars and bikes manoeuvre around them every which way.
I’ve worked out that pedestrian crossings are completely ignored by all drivers (as are traffic lights and all other road signals/rules), and so the only way to cross the road is to just go. Stop for cars, ignore the bikes and they will avoid you. Just go!”
I’d love to hear your comments!