My flight to Seoul with Asiana Airlines ran on time. Off to a good start!
I found my window seat and settled in for the 2.5 hour flight. Step 1: put on some music.... Upon going to the western pop section of the inflight entertainment I found the likes of Elvis, ABBA and Wham. Not really what I was after.... Turns out there is a recent release section (which also includes Prince :S ) thank The Lord! So I passed the flight with a bit of Ariana Grande 'My Everything' and Colbie Caillat 'Gypsy Heart'. Could be worse.
After being nostalgic for a couple of weeks, as we took flight I tried to look for a last glimpse of Tokyo. But the plane wing blocked my view, only allowing me to see 3 very clear stars in the sky. I decided to take this as a sign from the universe not to pine over Tokyo but to look forward to my 3 new adventures- Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia! I am still happy that Tokyo eventually showed itself so I could say goodbye.
Overall my flight to Seoul was good. The staff were friendly and the service good. Unfortunately I was worried about not being able to get food in Seoul so I essentially ate two dinners at the airport before the flight, forgetting that I would be fed on the flight as well! Though I wasn't too much of a fan of the stir-fried veggies (I think they were veggies), after my 3rd dinner I decided I wouldn't need to eat for a good 24 hours.
I view of Seoul from the skies was amazing. The buildings reached the skies and massive streets where lot up with bright coloured lights and billboards.
When I arrived at GMP it was just past 10:30 and I had to transfer airports. By this point I was pretty tired and had decided that forking out for a taxi over the train would be worth the comfort and also allow me to get a glimpse of South Korea.
I made it through customs and to the "international taxi information desk" before they closed (11:30).
All went smoothly and I got a cab transferring to ICN airport. 40 minutes later I finally arrived at the airport, a mere 8.5 hours before my flight!! :D haha
A couple of naps on benches, a coffee and a bagel later I went through security. Finding a bench proved fairly difficult given the number of people also sleeping in the airport. Felt a bit like living in a homeless colony, and my final bench was surrounded by a large Asian family. My flight was not remarkable other than we were delayed an hour due to ice on the Tarmac.
When we finally made it to HCMC I looked at the view of the impoverished city and thought, "what have a done?" Which is always a good sign that I'm heading in the right direction and challenging myself haha
Landing in HCMC I was pretty tired, and it turns out Vietnamese customs is the slowest of them all. After finally making I through customs and meeting Jono, I got my bag and we were off to the taxi rank. After being approached by a few drivers, offering $25USD rides in unmarked cars (and Jono agreeing to one), we made it to the taxi rank. Only to realize that neither of us had the hostel address. After staring at each other with no solution for a good 5 minutes, an English speaking Vietnamese guy kindly suggested we get dropped at the markets (which I knew were close to the hostel), because there was Starbucks which would have wifi. Finally off we went.
The hostel was great. 6 people per room in bunks, super clean and very helpful. Also right in the thick of the backpacker district (I chose well). We spent the afternoon wandering the district, had our first spring rolls, and paid way more than necessary for sunglasses for the pair of us.
We headed back to the hostel and met one of our roommates, Hannah from Malaysia/Australia. After a chat I decided to go seek out food, but found a party downstairs with free beer and food, so naturally we joined in.
A number of beers later we'd met most of the hostels inhabitants and made a move for a bar with an English couple (from Jersey Shore), a English man and his Japanese finance, our two other Australian roommates from Brisbane and a Vietnamese heritage Californian guy. Our first stop across the road from our hostel had expensive beer (by Vietnam standards), so we headed to Five Oysters for 60,000 dong amazing cocktails. A Long Island Iced Tea and a "Blue Saigon" later I was well on my way to having a happy new year.
At about 11:30 we decided to head to the park to watch the fireworks on the top of tallest building in HCMC. We didn't count on how ridiculously crowded the streets were! They were absolutely packed full of people, cars and scooters. We made it to a main intersection for the count down, which was jam packed full of people on scooters stopped on the road for the count down. After taking a couple of group selfies on Jono's "selfie stick arm" we counted down and welcomed in the new year.
About 10m away we could hear some loud music and we found Vietnamese people sitting on the side of the road blaring music. Naturally, we decided to dance. We danced on the street and realised that Vietnamese people had gathered around and were videoing the dancing foreigners in the street (let's hope those videos never surface)...
We then made our way to a club on the corner of the street where we found a suprise dance performance and live music. It was hilariously fun, but unfortunately they ripped us off big time with drinks... Eventually we made our way back to the street party. I ended the night with a burger and made it to bed by around 3am... A great start to the year.