On my second day in Da Lat, I had grandiose ideas of renting a motorbike and trying to get myself lost. But when I woke up I had second thoughts and spent a good hour going back and forth in my head about what to do. I'm a bit indecisive if you didn't know already. Eventually, I decided it wasn't the best idea, given the road conditions (drivers) of Vietnam and opted for another day of random exploration. I was on my way to the Crazy House when a motorbike pulled up beside me. Knowing exactly what he was about to propose I was prepared with my 'no, not today' standard response, but for some reason that's not what happened.
After the fun of my overnight bus adventure, I arrived at a wonderful hostel and was greeted by the friendliest guy I'd met so far in Vietnam. I hadn't actually made a booking so when I called and probably woke him up at 6am I was pleased that he was so pleasant. After unlocking the gates and showing me inside he simply asked if I wanted the mixed or female dorm, told me the number and said 'see you later'. This couldn't have been more perfect as I was in desperate need of a few more hours of sleep and sure enough when I went back down to the lobby at 8:30 Peace was just as pleasant.
Somehow during my roughly 60 days in Thailand I managed to avoid any overnight buses, of course, I had my fair share of interesting train rides, but I escaped the bus. This all changed when I got to Vietnam, after my adventures in the South I decided it was time to head north. Thanks to the recommendation of Mr. Kim I altered my plans a bit and instead of the beach town of Mui Ne I booked my ticket for the central highlands city of Da Lat. The town is apparently popular with Vietnamese newlyweds, but the promise of greenery, mountains and some cooler temperatures peaked my attention.
After three action packed days on the back of a motorbike, in boats, exploring cities and sweating a lot with my tour guide Mr. Kim, it was time for our adventure to come to an end. The final day started at 7:30 as Mr. Kim and I decided it'd be a good idea to try and beat the heat. The plan for the day was to ride bicycles around the small village of Ben Tre, exploring and observing the local way of living.
Having slept like a baby I was up early and able to fit in a bit of AM yoga before Mr. Kim was knocking at my door. Like dinner, I was once again eating alone (why Mr. Kim had to sit with me I do not know) but breakfast was less than appetizing. I guess they assumed I couldn't handle Asian breakfast of noodles or rice so instead I was given an entire baguette with some incredibly sweet jam, accompanied by some incredibly sweet coffee. Thankful to not be in a sugar coma I packed my bags and jumped back on the bike, it was time for us to move on to Can Tho.
I knew that I wanted to pay a visit to the Mekong Delta but wasn't entirely sure how I would go about doing so. My mom has a friend that is from a smaller city near Can Tho which is a bit further into the Delta than some tourists venture. I knew that I wanted to visit there as well as the small town of Ben Tre, no particular reasons for either but they just stood out to me. I researched a few different bus and ferry options but was soon able to throw that all out the widow, thanks to my new friend Mr. Kim.
My first full day in Vietnam was filled with real life frogger, intoxicating and repulsive smells, feeling like a lost child, failed attempts at napping and an impromptu motorbike tour. When the sun set, my fun continued as I met up with an old friend from Korea who's now teaching in Saigon. We grabbed dinner and a few drinks before meeting up with his friends for a birthday celebration. We shared old memories of Korea (coincidentally half his friends used to live in our town in Gumi) and a few drinks before I decided to call it a night, catching up on my overdue sleep. I was up early the next morning and set my sights on the War Remnant Museum, one of the only tourist attractions in HCMC that I had any interest in.
I was warned that I'd either love it or hate it. For some Vietnam is a food and adventure paradise while others just can't seem to find their grove. With a turbulent history and remains of division between north and south, it's an interesting place to say the least.