WordPress seems to be intermittently non-functional, so I’m pretty behind on posting. I will try to get back up to date when it works again.
After a wonderfully uneventful bus ride and board crossing into Vietnam (I just downloaded the Ticket to Ride and Catan Board Game apps, which made the ride go super fast), the Sorta/168 bus dropped us a few blocks from our guesthouse (Ngoc Thao). Down a narrow alley, you still had to dodge motor bikes. For $17 a night, we had a private bunkbed room with ensuite bathroom and breakfast.
After dropping our bags, we made our first Pho run to Pho Quoyn. The pile of fresh greens that arrived with it was ridiculous! Some greens we never tried before and some extremely spicy pepper slices. The other backpackers from our bus were already there. Then, we wandered around and picked up a Vietnam sim. All around the backpacker district, the sims cost about $10, but we finally located a phone dealer and got one for $6. Having normal speed data is so worth it after suffering on gimped T-Mobile for months. We also found a laundry place for half the cost of the hotel service. Oh the anticipation of clean clothing!
All these chores done, we found a beautiful rooftop bar with 12,000 dong ($0.65 usd) Saigon beers served with peanuts and proceeded to determine that red Saigon has more flavor than green Saigon. The green Saigon is a larger bottle with a half percent less alcohol.
The next day, we explored Saigon doing the Lonely Planet city walk and visiting the
American War Museum War Remnants Museum.
We finally made it to the war museum and spent a few hours revisiting the atrocities of the Vietnam war/the war of American Aggression. The museum is reasonably one sided (perhaps somewhat rightly so), but they do cover the horrors of agent orange on both sides of the line.
Returning to the hostel, we had just enough time to cool off before meeting up with Shane and Sarah to buy their motorbike. Rob took it for a test ride first then I joined him for a jaunt around the block. We left Sarah and Shane with Rob’s passport. Apparently their hotel lady saw us go and asked them if we left collateral. When they said they had a passport, she asked if it was real. Then when we had to go grab the cash, she asked them if we had left a deposit. She was so worried that we were going to screw them over. Sarah and Shane had bought us beers to celebrate, which was funny considering we were going to offer and to treat them to some beers at our favorite rooftop bar. They wanted to get cleaned up so after we finished their beers, we agreed to meet on the rooftop later.
Rob and I went up there early and ran into a whole group from the downtown hostel in Siam Reap. Shane and Sarah joined us for a couple rounds then we found an foodie street recommended by the Vietnam Coracle and got some tasty local non-touristy food.
The next day, I dragged Rob to barber next to the guesthouse and she trimmed him back a ton.
Then, we attempted to pick out some motorcycle riding clothes and accessories, but shopping was a complete failure. All the clothing was too expensive and we didn’t see a store with the bungee cords and face masks. We did check out the local microbrewery at Pasteur street brewing as recommended to us by Steffen and Audrey who honeymooned here over the holidays. It was so good to have hoppy and sour beer again. The US level prices meant we nursed our small beers. The dude that sat down next to us was also from Seattle and lives near Greenlake – another small world moment.
After the frustrating day, we splurged a bit and got some fancy Mexican food at
Khói Thom. Yum cheese!
On the way back to guesthouse, Rob spotted coconut ice cream so naturally we stopped for dessert.
Finally, the next morning, we managed to buy at least bungee cords and face masks at a market in our little alley. Turns out you just have to ask and they have a wide variety of stuff in the back. Finally, we hit the road headed for the coast.