We finally arrived in Ho Chi Minh City! After the three flights, and getting barely any sleep, we were both exhausted! We had applied online for the 1 month visa which cost $24. It had been approved so we just needed to receive our visa at immigration. I was very sceptical about whether this was going to be straight forward or absolute mayhem, but we were delighted when we got to the desk to find that all we had to do was hand in the paperwork we had already filled out, two passport photos and $50 for the two visas! In no time at all, the visas had been added to our passports and we were on our way!
We caught a metered taxi to our hostel which cost us 110 dong (approx £3.70). It always takes us a while to get use to the new currency especially when the exchange rates are so different to the last country. Our hostel was called TownHouse 373 and on first impressions we were very pleased! It was clean and modern with great wifi! The dormitory room was one of the nicest yet so we were excited to be staying there!
Matt had a nap while I had a little walk around the market outside the hostel. Ho Chi Minh had a strong French vibe in the architecture and restaurants as it was once colonised by the French! On one street you would have an Asian restaurant and next door would be a rustic coffee shop. This Paris/Asia vibe was like nothing I've ever come across before on any of my travels so it was really interesting.
The back of my leg was in a little discomfort, a small spot had come up on our last day in the Philippines and it was now swollen and looked very inflamed. I thought I would just take some painkillers and anti inflammatories, and just keep an eye on it!
That night, we found a little bakery called ABC Bakery which provided the most amazing selection of breads and pastries which we hadn't seen for a while so we were buzzed! As it was so cheap, we both pushed the boat out with a selection of foods to try, including desert! After food, we were keen to sort out a plan for the next few days and also our travel onwards. We had both been researching a fair bit online and found that a company called Sinh Tourist had a very good reputation so we decided to book everything with them. They were a little more expensive and you couldn't barter but I had read some bad stories with other companies so I think a extra few pounds would be worth it!
After an amazing and very surprising breakfast of fresh hot baguettes, jam and a selection of fresh fruit with iced coffee, we headed to the War Museum. There were three floors in which you start at the top and work your way down. I have to say that the photographs used in the museum were very graphic and some very disturbing but they are real and show what actually happened. I heard some people complaining about how bias the museum was and how some of the photo captions were not accurate so it seemed quite a controversial place. I was just glad to educate myself a little better on what happened, and not so long ago!
After lunch, we headed to Sinh Tourist office for the 1.30pm tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels. The tunnels were incredible, it's amazing how a nation with very little money and resources managed to adapt so well with what they had! The traps they set out were brutal as well, I definitely would have not wanted to come across one of them! We met an American women on the tour who expressed how it was nice to learn about the war from Vietnam's perspective but that she found the museum and discussions very bias. I have to say, I can't remember much from learning about it in school so I went in very open minded as did Matt.
The next morning, the spot of my leg was very inflamed and hot to touch but as it was on the back of my leg, I couldn't see it properly. We had booked to go to the Mekong Delta on a day tour but after speaking to my family (who were mortified at the photos) I thought it was best to get it checked out that morning. Luckily, we were early for our tour (we got the time wrong) so we had plenty of time to make it across to the Dermatology hospital.
It was havoc on arrival, there were people everywhere. Once I pushed and shoved my way to the front desk at reception, no body spoke English! Then fortunately, a young guy in his early 20's, tapped me on the shoulder and showed me what to do in order to sign in. The queue to see the doctor was 50 people long, we would definitely miss the trip! There was an option to fast track if you paid more money so I took that option and within 15 minutes, I was in with the doctor. He literally gasped as I took my trousers down which was a little disconcerting and definitely not what you want in that situation! He told me it was a nasty insect bite (maybe a spider) and gave me three types of antibiotics to take! Yuck!
I ran to the pharmacy to pick up my medication and with only 2 minutes until our bus left, I was running around in the middle of the street trying to flag down a taxi! Matt had already gone back to try and hold the bus but I knew Sinh Tourist were renowned for their punctuality. Eventually, a little man on a motorbike offered to take me but he didn't speak English and I didn't have the office address! Frantically ringing Matt for the address and shouting at everyone around me, we eventually set off. On arriving at the tourist office I could see the disappointment in Matts face... we had missed it!
As we had spent today's budget on doctor appointments and medication, we decided to have a chill day and research more of Vietnam. Luckily, with Sinh Tourist being such a good company, they rearranged all of our bookings without a charge. We had to move hostels to 'Saigon hostel II' as the TownHouse 373 was full. We met some awesome people in our room and went out to dinner and to the F.R.I.E.N.D.S bar as a group that night.
The next morning, bright and early, we were on the bus heading to the Mekong Delta. The tour was amazing and definitely worth holding on for. We travelled by big boat to a lovely little restaurant where we had amazing freshly made food, we tried gorgeous honey from the bee farm, coconut candy (which was to die for), exotic fresh fruit and we rode on a horse and cart for some sugar cane drink. At one point, both Matt and I offered to hold a python which was one of the strangest experiences yet! To finish off the day, a Vietnamese lady took us back to the big boat on a small rowing boat while we all wore typical Vietnamese hats... people do actually wear them here!
That night, we ate in one of the restaurants along the backpacker strip, it wasn't the best but was cheap enough for us to just get another meal elsewhere...ABC Bakery! I am also OBSESSED with ice coffee since being in Vietnam too, it's just the best! We also decided to stroll along to the big clothes and bags market. Before we went in, we gave ourselves a little pep talk about how we're we NOT going to but too much crap as we just didn't have the money for it. All in agreement, we set off! 30 minutes later and after being asked to leave as the market was closed, we emerged carrying bags and accessorises under every arm! It was an awesome market, we just couldn't help ourselves! We were heading onto Mui Ne the next morning, Ho Chi Minh had been a blast!