Street Wandering and Thoughts on Days of Exploration

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.

Back to Ho Chi Minh City – reflections and thoughts

My last day was a transit type of day. I had some breakfast along with a few other Austrlian expats at the same place as yesterday and then relaxed for a bit in the room. I had to check out at noon so had them call a cab for me and went to the Ferry dock and had some Vietnamese coffee there and waited.

The ride back was a little over 2 hours and it was smoother than the ride going so no evident signs of sea sickness. I have to admit to feeling happy to get back to Ho Chi Minh City. I thought a lot about the expatriate population and how just about everyone down my street and in all the hotels were expatriates. It was hard to find local cuisine since all the places seemed to cater to the expats. I think the location I was in is one of the community centers.

Now that I’m back, I have less than 2 weeks left here and some things to do. I’ll be heading back out tomorrow to walk the city and take photographs. I may walk down to the Saigon riverwalk area and go the opposite way and see what I can see.

I also set a few dates for things so I don’t miss them as the time ticks down. I must get to Chinatown this next week and I think that will be a full day. I also must get over to the museum of history which is a good walk from here. Both of those are day long events since the Chinatown area is huge and I will want to see all I can by walking. The museum has an area beyond it I want to see so I will go exploring there as well.

As I traveled back, I was thinking quite a bit about solo wandering. I guess because seeing all the expats in Vung Tau made me realize there are so many ways of doing things. People see the world and turn on all different realities. There are those on the limited tour type trips. The longer stay people. The RTW people. The gap year or reset people. I’ve been reading a few blogs of the different types. Its healthy I think to question the steps I take and what I expect out of them. I could just leave Vietnam and then take another year long tourist visa and come back and live for up to a year and leave on visa runs every 90 days. I’m sure a lot of people do that. But there is nothing compelling for me in that. I would just settle down in a place and hang up the wandering shoes. I believe in what I’m doing and the pace at which I’m doing it. I have this basic plan of things and places. Some random but I have to say there are things that are not. I have specific dates for things. I have to leave Vietnam by 16 September. My visa runs out then. I will want to go by then. Cambodia calls for a year. I know without ever being there I want a lot of time in Cambodia. I want it to be a home base for me to support other travels into next year. It has the basic stuff I need and prices are reasonable.

So I pretty much knew I could never be an expatriate and find a place to settle in and call it home. I have to wander the roads and walk them and take pictures and prove out my lifestyle. I waited too long for all this to simply take one of the lifestyles and call it quits. I cannot see a year from now but I do know that I will be still moving slowly but through Cambodia or perhaps in Laos or Thailand or even flying on to India.

So all this reflecting stuff kept me busy on the 2 hour catamaran ride. I realized that solo travel is not for everyone. Its okay to have doubts and question things. I have realized though that there is nothing for me in the states either. No home, car, job, people that really care if I am there or not. Children grown, friends moving to their beats of life. I don’t want work any more. That tank is empty. So I know that this kind of travel is the best for me. The slow movements of months or so in each place. I get to get a sense about the life in a place. Walk the city streets, sit by the beach, drink a coffee or beer. But I know at some discrete moment out there I will leave. That’s okay too.

If you travel and you wonder what its like to go with no end in sight; its a heady thing. Being in Asia is a wonderful thing. Having time to walk and take photographs and see the things leaves me open to question critically the paths. Like today I knew that I would not settle down in some place and heed the siren call. My call is down the street, around the corner. On that bus going to Da Lat for months. If you are on the road, I wish you happiness and sadness. Success and failure. Wonder and disappointment. Most of all don’t lose the questioning. You need polar opposites I think to know the value of the thing you are doing. Its okay to question and have doubts. I do.

Day Two at Vung Tau – Wandering the city streets

This was my one full day of exploration and I could have done the tourist things like the light house or Jesus statue. I did not do those things. Instead I wandered the downtown areas and the small neighborhoods. I wanted to get a full day of walking in here and see how people live here. I started at what is called the Front Beach which is less of a tourist thing and more industrial. The beach is not so clean and has a lot of rocks and less sandy beach area but people still come and walk by the beach walkways. Its almost opposite in Vung Tau from the Back Beach that I went to yesterday.

Its pretty easy to get around here walking. The streets are pretty nice but not many people. Not many besides Australian and New Zealand expats. I was totally amazed at the number of expats here living. I am guessing they spend six months at a time here and then fly out to clear their Visas and then start it all over again. I thought through how it would be to simply stop traveling in Vung Tau. While I like it here, I think I’m more of a vagabonder than someone wanting a place to stop. I just want to go slower. Vung Tau would be fun to stay awhile but I don’t see a compelling thing. I would be leaving to go to Ho Chi Minh City or Danang or other places because I like to explore big cities. One of the expats told me they fully expect to meet expat ladies here as well during their stays or find local women. I did see a few expat women while out and about. Its an interesting cross section of people. There are the older retired expat types that are staying here longer. There are the younger backpacker types that are traveling through and may have biked or taken the ferry here for awhile. I think there are also those that have found a Vietnamese lady or  man to have a longer term relationship with. I think if people are happy with a choice they make to stay here its all good! I like this place. But I have other places to get to. Stopping here would not work for me at all. I just want the slower pace so I can see places like Vung Tau and wonder over the people I see on a few days here.

Only day for wandering…

This was my only day here so I wanted to do a full day of walking my own way and see the other Vung Tau. I doubt I would come back again here. Its a way station for me on a long, slow wandering. I’ll leave tomorrow for the city and get back to a week and days of seeing Ho Chi Minh City.

My photo album was updated with the day’s wandering. Here’s the link again if you want to see the city and the beaches.

Now I’m back in my room and relaxing. Legs are tired and that’s good. Its early afternoon and it dawned on me walking today that giving myself permission to simply stop has been one of the hardest things to get done. I sometimes find myself pushing to see the next road or visit the next pagoda or take the tour. Its against the metric for my wandering though and its been tough coming to grips with it. I don’t think I have yet come to grips with the ability to say “mañana” to things or not push a bit.

Tomorrow I’ll catch the ferry back at 2pm and get back to the homestay for another week and days. More things there to go see. More places to report on!

Thanks for reading. I hope you find a thing of value but if you don’t I’m okay with that too 🙂

Vung Tau – Day 1 the Ferry Ride and a bit of wandering

This was the travel day if you can call it that from Ho Chi Minh City to Vung Tau. What this encompasses is riding a water ferry along the Saigon River and then out on the ocean to the Vung Tau. The water ferry is a very modern vessel which skims along pretty well. The first part of the journey was calm but when the ocean waters mix with the river, the whole thing gets frisky so it turns into more of a ride. A few of the kids got sea sickness and others were yelling and screaming with excitement and parents were laughing. It was just fun to see how the river and the port and boating all meet on the river. I had no real idea how big and sprawled out the city is. It seems to go on for quite some time and there is a lot of building going on.

So after two hours, we arrived at Vung Tau and I hopped a cab and came over to the hotel. The front desk manager was one of the nicest and funniest people who insisted on telling me about her experience trying to get a Visa for the US. She tried five times to visit and was turned down or delayed.

After checking out the room and relaxing for a bit and discovering that the wifi is very nice I decided I needed to see the Back Beach area and do this big loop around the city which looked pretty good to walk.

The Back Beach is quite pretty and while it looked like it might rain for awhile, skies cleared and it turned into a nice day for the beach goers. The path I decided to do was a really nice walkway all the way around this big loop and it brought me back almost to my hotel.

The city area is going through some growth and there are more hotels perhaps as the tourist business grows here. I kinda liked it today. There were no shoe shine boys, only a few scooters wanting to take me places, and no cyclo’s.

Reasons for Going…

The main reason for going is not being tired of Ho Chi Minh City but instead it seemed like the ideal getaway that I could do on a water ferry for really reasonable rates and then also stay somewhere different, do some different walks, and take some different pictures of things.

I will be doing those things through Saturday and then I head back to Ho Chi Minh City on the ferry and have about 1.5 weeks left before going to Da Lat.

Instead of sharing a few individual pictures, here’s the album I started to record my travels here. I’ll be updating that album for the next few days with my photographs from Vung Tau. The album has some shots from the water ferry trip as well as my wandering here today.

Vung Tau Ahead, Museums, and other thoughts

Tomorrow I head on off to Vung Tau for a few days of something completely different. Its about a 2 hour ride on the catamaran from Ho Chi Minh City to there and there are a few beaches, some historic stuff to see, and some food to check out. I doubt in a little over 2 days I will make it to a representative slice of the city but I do plan on walking all of the day on Friday since its my only full day there.

My hotel is centrally located in the city so I should be able to get around and see things. I decided on this trip just a few days ago and its really easy to find the places to go and then fill in the blanks for local transit to and from. In this case, there is a water taxi that takes you there on the Saigon River so you get to see a view of the city from the river that is probably different than the landlocked views from walking up and down the sidewalks.

Museums Calling

I still have museums calling my name here. I still want to get to the Museum of History which is about a 20 minute walk from my homestay. That may be the last museum here I want to do but I’ll wait and see. This place has a way of suddenly prompting me to do yet another historic site, temple, pagoda, or whatever once I’m out walking. I have done the Independence Palace, Ho Chi Minh City Museum, and the War Remnants museum.

What I love about going to museums is not only the artifacts but often the presentation. A lot of the buildings here that house museums are older French colonial buildings which have this charm and beauty which always is surprising to me. Circular staircases, beautiful windows, views out to the courtyards. Just gorgeous. I think I’ve captured a few of the museums in photographs here.

Other Places and Things

I will also get to China town next week on the bus. Its about a 30 minute bus ride and I know how to do it now. I think the attraction there is not only the market but also the cultural thing that it has going. I want to really spend some time wandering and seeing the place.

Then there’s just the wandering and city seeing I like to do. There are a number of places I have not seen yet which I want to walk to and take some photography of. Some are longer walks so I will probably spend a day each on them.

Catching it all up

But now its all about my little side trip coming up tomorrow! I love doing the side trips. Its like a wandering within a wandering. Sometimes completely unplanned which makes it even more fun!

The Fine Art Museum in Ho Chi Minh City – try to visit if you can!

The Fine Art Museum in Ho Chi Minh City is spread over three buildings. Each building focuses on a. Specific period of art and history so you can work backwards or forwards as you want. The cost to see the entire museum is 30k VND which is more than reasonable. I found that the displays are more organized and contiguous in the first building and there is more contextual information for that period. Each of the buildings has three stories with the most beautiful interior architectural components. Part of the fun and enjoyment is seeing the beautiful home to the art work. There is no AC since they are older colonial buildings so I stopped afterwards for some water at a minimart across the street.

In no particular order or trying to preserve how I visited, here are a few pictures of the exhibits and the wonderful architecture. I stopped taking photographs after awhile to more enjoy the displays but some I think deserve to be showcased since their display was done so well.

I got the feeling that the museum is being actively developed so some areas seem well done while others are in the process of being complete. As an example, contextual history for the prehistoric artwork collection is not as comprehensive as the revolutionary or modern periods.

If you have the chance and are staying in District One, you should get to a set of the museums here. I will try to publish some kind of guide on the blog for the ones I saw as I get ready to leave the city. There is just so much to see here that if you only have a limited time you may need to pick things carefully.

The 30 days here is winding down to only a few weeks left. The remainder of this week before I leave for Vung Tau I will be working on seeing more museums and galleries and stuff here and also doing my daily walks and seeing the sights. I also am still finding new coffee shops every day to get to which is fun!

Another place I must get to next week is Cho Lon or China Town here. I am going to go one day next week for a day trip there by riding the bus there and back. More on that later!

HCMC to Vung Tau and Speculating on Cambodia Voyages!

Another great day spent walking the city and I went to the Fine Arts Museum which is spread over 3 buildings in District One (I think). I will be going to a few more museums the next few days.

On Thursday morning I catch a Ferry from Ho Chi Minh City to Vung Tau for a few days away. I’ll leave at 10am on Thursday and spend two nights there and then come back to the homestay. After that, I only have a week and a few days left here and will take off to Da Lat on the bus. Da Lat is really the last city I will stay in for a longer time here in Vietnam. Once I get there, will do a few shorter trips from there too and will end up flying from Da Lat to the airport here for my flight to Phnom Penh.

Cambodia and then…

Here’s the schedule for my trip to Cambodia thus far:

  1. Phnom Penh 30 days from September to October.
  2. Sihanoukville 30 days from October to November.
  3. Siem Reap 30 days from November to December.
  4. Battambang 30 days from December to January.

When I get done with the fourth place above, I will head back to Phnom Penh in January and rent an apartment for 6 months or so. My thought is then to visit Thailand and Laos on tourist visas but have a home base in Phnom Penh. Perhaps instead I will like one of the other places and will end up there instead for longer.

The goal once I get to Cambodia is to extend my normal visa to a retirement visa for a year which gives me multiple entries. I can then hop around quite a bit.

Here’s a map of the areas so you can see how easy it really is to get around.

Having one place as a base of operations with a longer stay visa means I can hop all around to where I want to go then. I think the destinations most likely are Thailand, Laos, Malaysia but will always return to Cambodia to the place I rent.

I don’t have a concrete plan for the actual place in Cambodia but it does need to have an airport, train station, etc to allow me to get around easily. One train trip I do want to do is from Thailand to Laos so will probably arrange things to go that way.

Its hard to have a crystal ball with what 2019 looks like since its only July now and I don’t like committing to a schedule for places much beyond Cambodia. I do know that Cambodia will be a long stay place because its easy for retired folk to get a extension of stay visa.

Its fun though to look at the map and spin the dials and see where I would want to go in 2019. I do know I don’t want to change the slow meandering nature of things. I’ve really enjoyed that here in Vietnam. I also don’t want to put too much stock in what happens in January. I may end up staying in one of the places like Sihanoukville instead.

Once I get the visa extension its really up to me where I go. I have friends in Singapore so if I were to get to Malaysia, I would probably spend a shorter time in Singapore.

I am going to start looking at apartments in Phnom Penh using an agent I met and will probably find something my last few weeks in Battambang.

So, there you have it. In a nutshell what I will do to continue the slow meandering nature of my voyages. Nothing confirmed and I could change and stay in any of the places longer. Its so far from now that I wanted to have a baseline but its all pretty flexible. The transportation between places in Cambodia is by bus so its cheap. If I lose a bus ticket because of a change, its not a major deal to me.

The Hobo’s Realization – Travel is not the means or the end

Its been four months since I retired and have left the states. All told I’ve been to Japan, Hong Kong, and Vietnam. In Japan, I visited Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Osaka and was fortunate to ride the Shinkansen Nozomi Line since I had pre-bought the tickets prior to leaving. In Hong Kong, I only had about three days to wander around. Then there’s Vietnam. Way back when I decided to spend six months in Vietnam. I wanted to start out in Hanoi and then travel south on the train but also do shorter trips here and there combined with my walking and photography hobby. I spent three months give or take a day in Hanoi and also did a few day tours and then longer trips to Halong Bay, Hue, and Hoi An. Each place has something that I will remember. In Halong Bay it was the first day’s sunset and sharing a beer with the tour manager as we watched the sun go down.

In Hue, it had to be the history and wonder of the palace and the day tour I did to see the three tombs I got to see. I also found some really good local food plus had one of the best Indian dinners and a burger there.

In Hoi An, it was walking in the evenings in the city with the lantern and lights going full force. It was nice not having a lot of scooters zooming around but in retrospect I could have done something else and been satisfied. I liked Hoi An but I was not after getting a suit or clothing and that’s really what its about there.

Finally Ho Chi Minh City. Initially I decided to spend three months here but then changed and decided to go to Da Lat which is in the central highlands and have cooler temperatures and spend my last few months in Vietnam there. I redid my travel plans a few times to what I wanted. Cancelled airline tickets, found a hotel in Da Lat to stay in longer term and then started doing the shorter trips out of Da Lat again.

I was thinking back on how things have gone because a friend asked me how I could possibly be gone forever. There is a certain mindset to traveling solo in the way I am doing it which is completely different than the usual tourist or RTW or digital nomad or gapyear person. Its not that I don’t have goals or things I want but I found a few things which I just take for granted now that took me a bit to get to.

The first thing is losing the sense of rushing. I don’t want to rush to places only to spend two weeks and move on or a month or whatever. Rushing through a place leaves you with a memory that is rushed. You don’t recall that day where you did not have an agenda or a must or shall do. I lost the sense of purposeful travel with goals and places and things I must do.

The second thing that took me a longer time was not working. I never thought it would take so long to sink in after so many years that I do not have to work! I never have to work again. My life is encompassed in not working at all and just taking the steps and the wandering each day provides.

Another thing was minimizing things. I am not a minimalist and will never be. But I did get rid of things, donated things, selected the remaining things that I thought would work. Some things did but others were left behind or tossed or given away. I had to redo a few things which seemed like good fits like how to charge devices and have my ex-wife ship me new things. Clothing was another one. I thought at first that jeans were the way to go. Do not take jeans to Southeast Asia. You will burn! So I minimized and re-bought things in Hanoi which seemed better. Things of mine now should fit into a Tortuga 45L outbreaker backpack and a fake North Face duffel. And they do. So just proclaiming I am a minimalist is not true. I have never been one. What I am is a realist. I cannot pack two laptops, 5 phones, 14 t shirts, and a expensive set of toiletries. All that goes bye bye.

The final thing is finding value. Sometimes its best when you think there is no value to consider what it is that you have instead of what you don’t have. Its worth re-thinking on that after a beer or a big Vietnamese dinner at the homestay. What is it that is valuable in my life? What are the things that I find value in and how do I get them? I have to say that the things with no value were left behind much like I donated those shirts with collars, ties, shoes, socks, whatever it was. I was left with things I do value. Between this one and the one above, I think you find the golden mean.

Traveling is not this…

I’ve dealt with a few ideas since I retired. One is traveling. I’ve come to realize that what I do is not traveling. I don’t have itineraries and plans and agendas or real bucket lists although I did write down things I had to do in Hanoi. Traveling seems to have a meaning of getting to and from a place. When I traveled for business before, there were expectations and requirements. Must do things. The company wanted things from me if they paid for travel. Rarely did those things and what I really wanted line up.

So I tossed out the idea of traveling on 28 February. But tossing something out and not being reminded or feeling grabbed by it are universes apart.

I’m left with what this is. Upon reflection this is that purposeless wandering with camera in hand I have always wanted. The steps taken each to find a thing and the tired feeling in the legs after doing more steps. The taste of that one cold beer or ice cream at the Vincom Center or wherever. The random steps ensure that this is purposeless. I am empowered to be random. I can turn a direction. Go down one of those mysterious Hems in Vietnam and see the guard smiling and waving. See some of the mystery of the Old Quarter in Hanoi and District One in Ho Chi Minh City.

All these things separate me from the traveler. Trying to put them into words with someone on a schedule of 30 countries in 45 days is hard. If you are hitting the road, perhaps you should read what Robert Louis Stevenson said about travel,

I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.

Its the moving that counts folks. If you move with purpose you may miss the little random life things that are tossed up at you. My advice?

Try to slow down. Don’t just be a minimalist because it explains away things. Be a realist. Can you pack the 10 pairs of shoes and 20 t shirts and jackets and all that in a carry on bag? Look at your expectations when you hit the road and dash them all to bits. Start with a clean slate and don’t re-think them all. Forget the goals. Delete the bucket list. Be that random person you know you can be.

Most of all; slow down. That side street may not wait for you.

Coffee Sense in Vietnam and a look at Ho Chi Minh City

Today started out at a brand new coffee shop. My challenge is to find a new one every day and try their food if they have food. Some shops do not have food and specialize only in coffee. Today I went to the Workshop Coffee Shop and Restaurant. I believe that this place is favored by the digital nomad crew here in Ho Chi Minh City. I saw a few of them take up long stay residence at this long table and one of the staff brought out additional surge arrests. Now that’s a handy thing and you can tell that the place most likely caters to workers and nomads. Prices were kinda high too but to me I don’t really care here. I don’t buy dinner any more and don’t have to get laundry done. The homestay deal is pretty good all in all.

Anyways, I’ve read that Hanoi is really the coffee center for Vietnam but this place is no slouch and I have found so many different coffee shops and restaurants for my morning blast for everything from classic Vietnamese coffee to latte to americano. They do favor it iced so I have to remember to always ask for it hot.

The coffee scene here in Vietnam is incredible folks. If you come here and you should if you want to stretch those dollars a bit, I would try coffee here. You have to try the egg coffee. Its a bit rich but it has an indescribable taste. Cannot tell you what its like exactly. Its a taste you have to try. I don’t think there are places back in the states or elsewhere that can approximate it.

The real thing though I wanted to write about is the social and cultural scene of the coffee shop in Vietnam. I think coffee shops are hubs for people. Its a meeting place definitely of all ages and free wifi figures prominently. You don’t have some “brain dead” one hour limit like Starbucks does here in Vietnam. The worst was one Starbucks here which did 30 minutes. Seriously?

Then there is the ex-pat and digital nomad thing that I think Ho Chi Minh City has going for it. People find places where they can work and invite partners or customers or whatever either in real time or in virtual rooms to join. Coffee shops here are naturals for this. They kinda blend the act of coffee and the act of relationships and culture together and the idea of the coffee shop here has translated far away from the Peets or Starbucks in the states. Its more than the most delicious coffee. Its the joining together of people, ideas, fun, young and old, traveler and local. People like me as well. We all re-experience coffee at a few levels and learn that its completely different here in Vietnam.

Try it out when you come. And I think you must come here and experience the food, the people, the country, the culture. And the coffee! Don’t forget the coffee culture! 🙂

Today was more exploring…

So today was more exploring after coffee. I just walked by the river and am alway amazed at the differences in blocks. One block is a Japanese store and hotel block One has an Irish pub and small cozy restaurants. Another block has banks and international trade and ventures. Amazing place!

Today I decided to only shoot with the Camera on F/11 all day. I also shot with Auto ISO and I only shoot JPEGs so whether the photo is good or not, its mine. Since the Fuji has these different funky and fun film simulations, I shot only with the standard one called Provia.

And Ho Chi Minh City did not disappoint. Here are a few photographs from the walk today to check out.

Note that the weather today was a mix of sun, clouds, then thunder as soon as I got back to the homestay and after my ice cream treat. The walking was around the city center area because that’s what I felt like today. I still have about two weeks left here to adventure and do walks to other places and there are so many places on the map that require exploration!

So between the coffee shop exploration and finding a new one every day and the walking exploration, I feel that the city slowly shows me new wonders of so many kinds. The slow travel really pays off I think. I can move at a pace like I did in Hanoi. Find things which I can experience and return to because every day doing travel and street photography is something new. The way the sun glints off the Opera building. The way shadows fall when it clouds up. I’ll be walking around in the evening one of these nights soon to see the city at night. Cannot wait to see the skyline lit up here!

So that’s my report on coffee and hobo’ing around the city today!

Ho Chi Minh City is Enthralling, Captivating and Mysterious

Another day on foot wandering this city. A new coffee house this morning for a few vietnamese coffees and some eggs and toast. Then I was off on foot for the day.

The usual thing of turning left, then right and left again was the usual goodness but I guess I am learning my way around a bit better because I see certain landmark things like this co-op store and I kinda sorta know where I am without the google maps. But it really is so handy having the cell phone service! Yesterday I topped up the service and got a discount so I am good for another month here in Vietnam. I really use the service a lot not only walking around, reading in coffee shops, but also tethered because sometimes the homestay wifi gets bogged down so I switch over to sharing my LTE connection. Works like a charm!

Anyways, here are a few things from the walk today. The sky started darkening a bit so shooting all day at F/8 with autofocus if you’re interested.

Just as I was a few hundred feet from my homestay, the sky started darkening considerably and I could feel a few rain drops testing my mettle. I did not have mettle with me so I went back to the room.

All in all, a really nice day capped with smiles! The darker sky really creates some nice moments when taking photographs I think.