The Ending in Saigon and the beginning in Hai Phong

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So to start my last Vietnam blog I thought I’d recap some of what we did in the beginning. In total we spent about a week in Hai Phong. Which is the third largest city in Vietnam. It was where Jimmy’s family lives. We spent a lot of time hanging out with his cousins and their cute cute kids. I miss these two so much! It was great just hanging out and essentially “living” in Hai Phong. Every morning we would wake up and walk 2 minutes down the street to get breakfast. We normally got banh cuon, soi thit or bun ca. Honestly could eat these 3 dishes on rotation every morning for the rest of my life. And then we’d get some iced coffee and just chill the rest of the day. His grandma’s house was very close to this downtown area that has a lot of markets and stores around. As well as this dessert place we went to a few times called Quy Linh Cao. They specialize in grass jelly caramel drinks.

I really liked that Hai Phong was a city that had everything in terms of markets and food (and the Vietnamese “vibe”) but didn’t have any tourists. The hustle and bustle without the intimidating chaos of Hanoi and Saigon.

 

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Saigon:

Saigon oi! Remember how worried Jimmy and I were about going to Vietnam? Mainly worried about getting mugged? Well after spending 25+ days in Vietnam feeling far too safe we sort of expected all of those feelings would return upon our arrival in Saigon. Maybe all those warnings we got from our family was specifically for Saigon, the biggest city in Vietnam. And because of this – I  barely have any photos of Saigon. I rarely took my phone out while walking around the streets of Saigon. Here is the only picture I took outside in Saigon lol

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Some of our highlights in Saigon were:

Shopping! We didn’t want to shop much previous to Saigon mainly because we packed so light we didn’t want to have to carry anything whilst on the go. I wasn’t really looking for anything in particular except for new glasses which I found! We also found a glasses shop that measured our eyes and put prescription lens in for like $6USD :O. Bad news though – for whatever reason I think she got the measurement wrong and they give me a headache so I’m getting the lens redone here at home.

Food! We thought we had the best bun bo hue in da lat – turns out a place near our airbnb also has amazing bun bo hue. We also went to a banh mi place that had the longest line ever. I got some stomach problems prior to eating the sandwich and ended up having to pass on the banh mi. Didn’t want to risk anything just before our 14 hour flight home from Hong Kong to Chicago. We also went to a sweet brewery – full of unique tropical flavoured beers and appetizers. Fried Okra! MMM! Definitely beats onion rings but maybe not sweet potato fries.

Family! I met one of my moms older sisters in Saigon along with my cousin! It’s so strange to meet family you’ve never met and just instantly fall into conversation and care like you’ve known them your whole life. My aunt brought her son along because she was worried I didn’t speak any Vietnamese and would need him to translate. Yay we didn’t need a translator 😀

Saigon was really a chaotic city. The first night we got there we headed out to find some food and just explore the city. Walking was INSANE. We went up to the second floor of a coffee shop that had a perfect view of a giant round about intersection. It was SO crazy!!! Hundreds of motorcycles and cars going in every direction but it really seemed like it was choreographed or something. We also hopped on a bunch of Grab bikes in Saigon. This was actually one of my favourite experiences here. It was so exciting to hop on a motorcycle with an experienced driver and just go into the chaotic driving lol.

Finally I have to mention the heat. It was so humid and hot all the time here. 12pm meant finding air conditioning ASAP. Find AC or AC dies.

I wrote this in the last few days in Vietnam. On the train ride from Nha Trang to Saigon. I think this best reflects how amazing Vietnam was to me. I honestly love this country and cannot wait to visit again.

What a month!! I am so incredibly proud & grateful to be a Vietnamese Canadian. It’s taken me 27 years to finally visit this amazing country and to visit it with one of my favs – Chi Jimmy. I really couldn’t have imagined going to Vietnam for the first time with anyone else. There’s no one that could’ve kept up with all food we ate and all the laughing we did to digest it all. No one else that could see and appreciate Vietnam the way we did – from the smallest detail (the way a lady got off her motorcycle so smoothly in the middle of heavy traffic and crossed the road with absolutely no fear & pure ease) to the incredible sights of Ha Long Bay and the beautiful countryside of Sapa. We travelled to almost 10 different cities/villages using all sorts of transport (planes, sleeper buses, local buses, taxis, bicycles, boats, bigger boats, motorcycles, trains and our own two feet) slept in all sorts of places (gmas house, local homestays, hotels, hostels, buses and trains), used the “nha ve xinh” in all sorts of conditions – I won’t go into detail but I really miss North American ve xinhs, and met so many genuinely kind people (locals, tour guides, other travellers, and an endless amount of incredibly talented food ladies). I’m so proud of us. Next, I have to send a big shout out to Vi! I still can’t really wrap my head around how we met you on a random tour to Sapa and it really felt like we’ve known each other our whole lives. It’s insane how we grew up on opposite sides of the world but have the same perspective on life and same sense of humour. If you can make me belly laugh- you’re one I’d like to keep around. Our Vietnam trip would not have been the same without you and I’m so grateful we crossed paths and got to spend so much time together in VN. I cannot wait to see you again in another part of this world. See you soon sistaaa. Finally – I got to say, I’m writing this on a sleeper train to Saigon. Who knows what our last few days in this country will be like but I wanted to reflect on what an amazing time we’ve had thus far. (Basically if we get mugged that will be my only memory – just kidding nothing can take this away from me).

 

 

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For more on my Vietnam trip check out my other parts:
HANOI 
NINH BINH 
HA LONG BAY 
SA PA
HOI AN & DA NANG 
NHA TRANG
DA LAT
SAIGON + HAI PHONG 

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