Goodbye Phnom Penh, Hello Ho Chi Minh City

The journey from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City was only about 200km and even with a fairly painless border crossing the trip ended up taking over 6 hours!! Still we are fairly used to these trips by now and the bus was clean and comfy so we just watched the scenery (mostly rice paddies) pass by the window.

Our arrival in the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City bought with it an incredible amount of traffic, 90% of which seemed to be motorbikes. They swarmed around all the busses and trucks seeming to take up every spare inch of road, and sometimes the pavements too! It was obvious from the outset that there was a lot of energy about the place and we were keen to get out and explore.

Our guest house was situated in a maze of alleyways just behind Bui Vien street. The alleyways were narrow enough that I could almost touch both sides and were full of motorbikes and people eating and drinking at makeshift restaurants. As we walked along we could look straight into people’s houses and it was fascinating watching the goings on. The houses themselves were in a terraced style and each floor only consisted of one narrow room with a staircase at the back leading up to the other floors.

In some of the front rooms we saw a sofa, TV, kitchen, fridge, motorbike and people lying on the floor in and amongst all the clutter. Space was certainly at a premium and even in our guest house our room was only just wide enough for a double bed and we had to get in from the foot of the bed. While not incredibly practical from our point of view in the inside the views from the outside were great and gave the city amazing character.

First impressions of the city were looking good.

We had both been very excited about visiting Vietnam and one of the main reasons was because of the food and so first stop was for some of the infamous Vietnamese street food. We followed a recommendation and ended up at a food market which was superb!! It was full of about 20 stalls serving a variety of food and of course $1 beers!! We were spoilt for choice. It’s always dangerous arriving somewhere with such high expectations but the first taste of Vietnamese cuisine was wonderful!!

Bellies full and smiles on our faces we continued on with our wandering around the vibrant city. Everywhere you looked there was something to see and I am sure we missed most of what was going on even with our eyes on stalls constantly looking this way and that.

When we got back to our guest house we realised that we were staying just off of the main pub street and so found a table on the street side and sat back to watch the action. While more tame than Bangkok it was full of life and we had a great time people watching while being constantly sold sunglasses and fans.

On our way back to our guest house we were asked many times for massages and so decided to stop in and enjoy one. We couldn’t believe we had only been in the country since about 2:30 in the afternoon and experienced so much already! Very, very excited to be starting our Vietnamese experience. T

The alleyway outside of our guesthouse.

The Notre Dame cathedral.

The central post office.

The variety of architecture as we walked around was brilliant.

A couple of shots of the central market.

First tastes of the delicious street food.

The bar street right outside our guesthouse.  Perfect spot for people watching.

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