When I learned I would be traveling to Vietnam for work, I really couldn’t believe it. A look took over my face that I can only describe as a mixture between stunned disbelief and immense excitement. I have always wanted to travel (more) and it was finally happening.
First leg of the trip was a 13 hour overnight flight from Chicago to Seoul, South Korea. I had a short layover on the way over, and an entire day to explore the city on the way back. But that will come in a future post.
When I landed in Seoul, it was a very odd feeling. I was excited, but also jet-lagged. It was 4 am, Seoul Time, and I had just stepped off the plane into a nearly empty airport. I wandered around, waiting for something to open so I could eat (I didn’t eat on the plane).
I called my parents who were enjoying a Sunday evening back in the US. I remember being emotional in that Seoul airport, sipping a green tea latte from Dunkin’ Donuts and people watching. There’s something about being thousands of miles from home in a different place that is exciting, but can also be lonely.
A few hours later I was on another plane to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. After clearing customs, I stepped out into the hot, humid air that overtook the city in August. I had arranged for a driver from my hotel to pick me up. What I saw outside was a sea of people waiting for someone. Eventually I saw my name typed out on a fancy looking sign and followed my driver to the car.
As we drove through the city, he told me a little about the country in broken English. I did my best to understand and communicate. The city is filled with mopeds. Everywhere it seems that everyone is driving a moped. I saw one with two women and a dog riding in front.
The first thing I did when I got to my hotel, checked in, and found my room, was collapse and sleep. Jetlag will get ya.
Allow me to outline a few highlights of my trip to Ho Chi Minh City:
The view from my hotel room: The Saigon river. This was sunrise.
Drinks at the Caravelle Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City. This is the view from the rooftop bar. The drinks are very well-made and the bar itself is quite historic. It used to be the hangout spot for journalists during the war.
This was the view below my hotel room at rush hour on a weekday. As you can see, the streets are packed with mopeds. It makes wandering around the city adventurous to say the least.
My favorite thing about staying in Vietnam, however, was the warm and welcoming nature of the people. Everyone was very polite and friendly, making my stay a truly great experience.
I am fortunate enough to be going back to Vietnam twice in the coming months, so there will be more to come. I can’t wait to share more of my adventures with everyone.