As per usual, when I got off the bus at 7am, I got hassled by several taxi drivers trying to scam foreigns. Luckily, I knew we were on the road we wanted as the surrounding shops had road names in.
The first step: find a cheap hostel. Success! After a bit of bartering, we found a dorm for the price we were willing to pay. Next: find out what I wanted to do in Ho Chi Minh. Once I connected with friends I had made along the way, we arranged to meet up for brunch before one of them was heading to a new country.
One of the English girls and I wandered around the city visiting Ben Thanh Market, HCMC Theatre, Vietnam Committee hall, Post Office, Notre Same Cathedral and The Independence Palace.
Then we stopped off for some Vietnamese coffee before strolling around the beautiful Tao Dan Park and played on the swings. We sort of arranged to meet two of the guys at the War Remnants Museum but we ended walking around without them. The museum was one of the best and extremely informative. I personally didn’t know any thing about the Vietnam was so I found it really interesting. Still deciding whether to do a separate post of what I learnt about this tragic event.
In the evening, we went to a roof top hostel, where a large group of us had some drinks before bar hopping. It was a great night dancing and getting to know more travellers.
What I needed the next day was a lie in and that’s what I got. I’m the sort of person who is constantly on the move and packing up my day. I got a well deserved sleep, removing myself from my bed at 1pm. I want planning just to mooch around but an American girl from the night before had arranged to meet the two Swedish guys to go to the Chi Chi tunnels. I ended up joining them.
The tunnels were interesting to see and to find out how the Vietnamese protected themselves in the war. The hideouts and tunnels were tiny but also cleverly made. As part of the tour, we crawled through one of the underground tunnels: it was clasophobic. Even though it was worth seeing the tunnels, it took 2 hours each way for a 1 hour tour.
By the time we returned to the main city, we were starving so we ate at a local restaurant, where the owner was also a tour guide. He showed us a book where tourists had written about him. One person paid $350 for a day tour; that’s outrageous. We ate some fried spring rolls and prawn traditional pancake with some cheap Saigon beer.
Ho Chi Minh is a popular place for the at amongst tourist. Both my old housemate and a fellow traveller got robbed by guys on a passing motorbike. Be warned. Don’t take unnecessary things out and don’t get them out in public especially near the side of the road.
For the rest of the night, I just chilled.
Myself and the two Swedish guys left the next day to head to Cambodia. It went pretty smoothly except for the border crossing. I have to say land crossing is not my favourite part of travelling.
When we got on the bus, they asked for our passport and $35 for our visa. As we heard of some scams before, we explain through translating over the phone that we will pay when we get to the border. OK. Exiting Vietnam was easy but I still didn’t feel at ease. The bus company had given us our luggage but no-one else. Dodgy.
Generally entering Cambodia was easy: visa, passport control, stamp. Done. However as we were paying for our visa, which was $30 (the company take $5 per person), the bus with most of the passengers drove away. Panicking, we were convinced that the bus would be waiting for us at a restaurant. Later finding out it was 2km away so had to pay for a motorbike taxi. Even as we were driving, I was worried the bus would not be there. Luckily, it was. However, they tried to raise their prices when they saw I was with two guys but we weren’t fooled. Just be aware, this happens a lot.