Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam’s largest city. It’s in the country’s south-central region, and it was my first visit after leaving Cambodia. Apart from being an excellent spot to buy a scooter, I had no idea what to anticipate. I didn’t like for HCMC, but after I got out of the city, I fell in love with the countryside.
The bus travel from Kampot was long, but not particularly unpleasant. I enjoyed looking out the window at the countryside, villages, and cities. I couldn’t help but think if my bus driver was on a bet to see if he could drive in the incorrect lane for 90% of the trip. He shifted the bus into the other traffic lane whenever he could. The border crossing took all day, and we arrived in HCMC late at night.
When I arrived, I had nothing planned and was fatigued. I didn’t have phone service, so I started seeking for wifi. A lady approached me and inquired if I needed a room. I agreed, and she whisked me away to a damp, but adequate, room above an Indian restaurant. I left my belongings behind and headed out for some food and beer.
I was in the heart of the tourist district, so I sat at a table and watched the street. A young boy of about ten years old performed a perilous fire breathing display while seated at the table. Many individuals stopped by to hawk their wares, and I didn’t like for the atmosphere in this section of town. It wasn’t horrible, but there were far too many inebriated visitors (myself included). I was simply sick of backpacker hangouts. After a bit of backpacking, you’ll notice that you’ve had the same conversation thousands of times. It’s the same questions and answers every time.
After a few hours of walking the streets, I retired for the night.
I conducted several errands the next day, taking care of stuff like getting a sim card for my phone and researching scooter purchases. Apart from that, I simply relaxed and relished the opportunity to eat some delicious meals.
Because one of my Pai friends was in HCMC, I caught up with him and we went out for drinks.
I opted to acquire my bike from Tigit after doing some research online. I’m not sure if they still offer bikes because their website no longer mentions it. However, it’s worth giving them a call because their service and prices were fantastic.
I went to their garage and picked out a decent bike. I also purchased a helmet from them. It was fortunate for me because I have a large head and the helmets available in the area do not fit me.
Tigit’s proprietor handed me a map and suggested a nice path to travel. She also explained a variety of topics in Vietnam. Things like pretending I don’t understand English if the cops stop me and getting out of the way if I get into an accident with a local since the crowd will turn on me. She also stated that if I needed to employ a mechanic, I should call her and she would inform them that the bike was rented and that she would be responsible for any repairs. That way, I’d obtain a local pricing rather than a tourist price.
I hopped on my bike and returned to my room. I was so afraid of driving in the city that I almost peed my pants. Everything was insane, and I was attempting to figure out where I was heading using my phone’s map while avoiding being murdered by traffic. I discovered the method of simply following other individuals. Forget about traffic lights and signs; simply stop when others stop and leave when others leave.
The following day, I piled everything onto my bike and rode to the seaside. Tomorrow I’ll write about that day’s adventure.
I returned to HCMC on my trusty scooter a few months later. The tires were completely flat, and the engine was barely running. I had considered ditching the bike on several occasions because I believed repairs would be prohibitively expensive. I was about to leave the bike where it had been parked when I realized that the lady from Tigit had requested the helmet be returned. It was a good helmet, so I didn’t want to throw it away. I contacted them and informed them that I had the helmet. She sent me to their garage with the bike and helmet.
Tigit had (and possibly still has) a policy of buying back motorcycles for $90, no questions asked. It hard to start because the tires were flat, but I obtained some air and drove it to the shop. Almost all of my money was returned to me! I assumed the bike was junk, but it turned out to be worth more than $200.
When I returned to HCMC, I also had some extra pages added to my passport, so it’s now extra thick, which is fantastic.
This photograph was taken during my second visit to the city. I’ll also remark that the second time I visited HCMC, I loved it a lot better. Everything in Vietnam was new and unfamiliar to me the first time I visited. After spending roughly 3-4 months in the nation the second time, I felt almost like a local. The inebriated tourists were still around, but I felt more confident about venturing outside of the tourist center and seeing more of the city.
There will be other places where I will return. I’m undecided about whether I’ll try to mix them, as I did with this post, or if I’ll just produce many posts for the same location. I suppose it depends on the number of images I have. When I get there, I’ll sort it out. Anyway, I hope you’ll join me tomorrow as I go on a road adventure that will take me from Vientiane, Laos, to the Chinese border and back.