Anyone who has been to Vietnam could warn you of their customs system, you hand your passport and documents over to an officer and then a few HOURs later it may be returned with a visa, all the while your bags are just going round and round on the baggage carousel on the outside. So after finally breaking free from the woes of the airport we made it to Vietnam. We met these awesome kiwis in the airport who had the great idea of getting an Uber to avoid any taxi scams, so we copied them and made our way in the hectic traffic to our Airbnb on the outskirts of District 1.
The area we are staying in is a little removed from the traditional backpackers street and fancy hotels. To get to our apartment we creep down this alley way with cool little modern shops selling retro inspired clothes, bags, jewellery and arrive in this hip happening beer garden. In the corner of the area there is a small set of spiral stairs that leads us up to our dreamy Saigon studio.
One of the coolest things about this spot is that our balcony looks out over the Jade Pagoda. It was built in 1909 in honour of the supreme Taoist god (the Jade Emperor - Ngoc Hoang), and is one of the most incredibly atmospheric temples in Ho Chi Minh City, filled to the brim with statues of phantasmal divinities and grotesque heroes. The air is filled with pungent smoke of incense (huong), hazing over the exquisite woodcarvings. It's stunning.
After having a quick shower, we were both parched and hungry so grabbed some vietnamese dong and headed out to grab a bite. Sean only had one thing on his mind - Banh Mi. We found this cool little shop and ordered two tofu and a salad. HOLY MOLY - I don't know whether it was because we were super hungry or whether it genuinely was one of the best things I have ever eaten. Once we had rapidly devoured our meal and considered getting another one, we made our way out to the streets and spent the rest of our first day people watching and trying to scout out a spot for some Vietnamese coffee for the morning.
So that's Day 1 gone and dusted. We are so excited to be here and can't wait to se what Day 2 has in store for us.
Sean and Katie