Ho Chi Minh City 12-16th November

At the airport I lost my “WaterWell” bottle (a different brand of “LifeStraw” that filters all non-salty/chlorinated water to be drinkable) which I’m really annoyed about. Not sure where I left it and I tried to phone the hostel and my taxi driver but it turns out my SIM card doesn’t have any credit on it to phone people. Argh! It was such a good way to never have to worry about if water was safe to drink and also avoiding having to buy lots of plastic bottles of water along the way. Oh well. Moving on.

When I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City I was very surprised by how modern, western, and built-up it was compare to the other places I’d been to in Vietnam. It had plenty of bright lights shining everywhere with flashing billboards, just like one might see in Times Square in NYC. My hostel was also getting into the festive spirit which felt really odd when, to me, obviously it must still be summer if I’m in shorts everyday and am still toasty!

On the first day, I wandered into the central market and tried lots of different types of street food. I tried these crispy pancakes with an assortment of coloured fillings that I was told were various combinations of flavoured egg and of coconut. The first few I tried were amazing… then I came to a bright red one which I thought might be a berry flavour or similar. I ate the whole thing in one before very quickly realising it want berry but chilli. And a lot of chilli!
While sitting and waiting for my various food to come along, I messaged various friends back home for a long time which was really nice because I haven’t spoken to many of them for quite awhile. The rest of the afternoon, I wandered around the streets land even treated myself to a Starbucks in a very air conditioned building which was exactly what I needed – it was VERY hot!

The Central Post Office is a lovely open plan building with a giant portrait of Ho Chi Minh on the far side. Whilst in there and sitting down near a fan to cool down, I noticed lots of tourists taking pictures of a really old man who was writing something for someone. I looked it up as I was very confused and discovered that he is the last remaining “public letter writer”. These were people who were literate when most of the population wasn’t. They were also fluent in French and English and could translate documents between the three languages.
Now this letter writer writes postcards for tourists in the mornings. Unfortunately, by the time I’d worked all of this out, he had sold all his postcards and was packing up for the day so I couldn’t get a little piece of history to take home with me.

Central Post Office
The man himself, HCM

Around the corner from the post office is the “walking street” which has yet another statue of HCM outside his museum. Along this street is the “cafe building” and “Times Square”!

One evening, I went out for supper with someone I met in Hanoi which was really nice and then we wandered around the town together, catching up on each other’s past few weeks of travel. We came across a street with a very thin building and apparently on one of her tours, a tour guide had mentioned that tax used to be sorted by how much street your house took up. I wander if that’s why this building was so small.

Third building in from the left.