I did not really set any goals for myself first day back from the get away. I wanted to try to sleep later which I did and then decided over latte and a Banh Mi sandwich to walk to some bridges and roam around there for awhile.
Ho Chi Minh City is so big and diverse that I probably would never run out of directions or places to walk here. I love cities that have bridges! I remember my first evening in Hiroshima and all the small bridges that cross the city. Its a great connection thing but its also a cultural and geographic continuity for a city I think. Finding even more bridges here than I thought yielded a thing for tomorrow to walk farther north than before and see a part of the city not seen yet. I will probably catch up with the museums Tuesday and Thursday or some other days as long as I get it done before a week from Wednesday.
Homestaying is Nice!
I wanted to put a gentle word out there if you are tempted to try a homestay arrangement if you visit Vietnam. I have been staying with a family here for three weeks and its probably the best I have been fed and the least bothered. They serve me a home cooked Vietnamese dinner every night and the homestay owner insists I have seconds of rice and keeps on filling the veggies and other stuff up on the table. I mentioned I liked ice cream and then the next night we had ice cream for dessert. She’s a sweet person besides being a wonderful cook.
During the days when I wander and take photographs or do whatever, I am usually back by 4pm and she has an ice cold water waiting for me. She also keeps beer in the fridge. At one point we had two other guys here before and they left. Then I went to Vang Tau and two other guys showed up and they have left because they were more wanting to party in the city and stay out. Since this is a family and she has to work early most days, the place gets locked up by 1130 at night. That’s fine with me. I don’t have any desire to go out here at night. I’ve usually walked like 15k steps and am wanting an evening watching a movie on TV or a youtube movie and reading. I never did different in hotels either.
So, my pitch is if you want to experience a different type of staying in Vietnam, find a homestay and give it a shot. I am paying $360 US for a month and I get my laundry done, get all the food I could possibly want, can have beer, and she keeps ice cold water waiting all the time. Its a nice way to stay and see things a bit differently.
Days of Exploration
Its interesting that I kinda lose sight of whether a day is a weekend or weekday sometimes. When I am in city exploration mode and not taking side trips, the days slide by and each day is a reward and fun and exploration. I could see the same street twice or ten times. It does not matter. I am not after the uniqueness. I am after seeing the city and the people and how both intersect.
The days of exploration have no real boundaries or decisions. Its just my feet and the camera and stopping at some point at a Circle K or 7/11 or other convenience store and getting water. Then the day stops for a bit and I can sit and watch a different set of things. Now I am still and the people are passing me by. Many is the time I get a “Hello” from someone or smiles and waves here from a variety of people. It makes the days when I explore more interesting.
I’ve also walked the Hems or alleys here and in Hanoi and those experiences are even more different. Those side streets and alleys have this character and vibrancy. I remember seeing it in Japan too.
So my second kinda sorta “ask” is for you to walk those places too. See the alleys and the small streets as these connectors of life. They are not just a pathway between big streets. They are often filled with smaller businesses, school children heading to or back from school, older people that smile and want their photo taken. You find a different day of exploration and its good!
Try it out where your shoes take you. Also try disengaging the mind that seems wanting to do direction and GPS. You don’t need that. Get lost completely and the city will open its mysterious arms to you and welcome you as a true urban explorer.
Now I hear thunder and Ho Chi Minh City will get some rain I think. The explorations are over but the writing and thinking are not. If you are on the road, do something different. There’s a risk and reward in it. Like most things of value both are usuallyintegrated.