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Trip Start Sep 18, 2010
Trip End Jul 27, 2011

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Where I stayed
Miss Loi's Guesthouse Ho Chi Minh City
Read my review - 4/5 stars
NGA Hoang Hostel

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ho Chi Minh City: Everyone still calls it Saigon, you won't even find a bus going to HCMC. I am having a hard time getting a sense of the city. There is nothing I can point my finger to (yet) that makes it stick out. The traffic is even crazier than Hanoi, if that is possible. The streets are wider. It feels more modern. The street stalls have plastic chairs that are fit for 10 year olds (versus 5 year olds in Hanoi). The first few days, I am having the hardest time orientating myself in District 1, the backpackers’ ghetto. Not that I claim to have ever had a useful sense of direction. Still I find myself confused a lot more here. It takes me couple of days of roaming around without companions to not get lost. Other co-travelers tell me, they find Saigon has no character. That’s a little how I feel with nothing emotional or special or atmospheric that grabs me. But then I think it might just be the dullness of impressions I am starting to face as I am approaching the 6-month mark of travel time. Why does time fly? Unbelievable! It is one week short of half a year ago since I left Toronto (at the time I took these notes). Probably a natural experience that sights are no longer hitting my brain as crisp and intense now.

Spending the past little while around a bunch of new friends might also have contributed to my narrowed intake capacity. Vietnam was certainly among the times I will remember most fondly. And that’s because we met such a great set of people and had a wonderful time with them. Yet, on the impressions front, I find myself distracted whenever I don’t travel alone. There are conversations to be had, travel tips to be exchanged, jokes to be made and laughed at, personal stories and personalities to be uncovered and activities to be coordinated. All of which pre-occupies my mind (not in unpleasant ways of course), taking away the focus of what happens around me, outside my social group. The more I travel, the easier it becomes to connect with random strangers. So unless I force myself to be anti-social, this conflict will persist. Could this be why, lately, I find it difficult to 'feel’ the places I visit? Nevertheless, I believe I am also learning from others and being around them. So this is not a complaint! Life on the road is still good, home does not yet draw me stronger than the rest of the world. I recall Martin saying saying "You’ll be gone for at least one year or 1 and .". Now that might be a tad ambitious, but I think I can handle a few more months ;)

Shortly after we arrive, Manu has to move on to Kuala Lumpur for a work assignment. I am sticking behind as we have slightly different travel routes coming up for the next few weeks. And I need to slow down a little and just catch up. With my pictures, this blog, myself and this city. Eventually, I do get a better sense of Saigon and end up making friends with it. One of the things I enjoyed was that there appears to be a large expat community, which would surely make it a neat place to live in for a while. Adding to the list of places I could be at home, should I ever tire of Toronto ;)
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My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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