Two things *almost* prepared me for Saigon. The first is having been to Asian countries before (Japan and Korea). The second was watching hours of YouTube videos on Saigon. However nothing will prepare you for Saigon. Saigon is an endless ocean of motorcycles, horns and vendors. It is a flowing chaos of noise and humidity. Saigon is one of a kind.
I’ve been here less than 24 hours. We arrived around 10:30 last night. Getting off the plane and over to the hotel was an adventure after 20 hours of flight but that story is for another day.
Today was the real first day of our trip. As I write this it’s only 5:40pm and the evening is young.
We started the day around 8:00am with breakfast at our hotel — the Silverland Jolie Hotel. The buffet was quite good. I had nothing to compare it to it being our first meal in Vietnam. They even made us pho. My mission to eat 100 egg rolls began and I had 5 with pho and miscellaneous breakfast food including dragon fruit and passion fruit.
My wife’s cousin’s driver picked us up and me, my wife, her mom, my wife’s cousin-in-law and her daughter Vy (pronounced V, like the letter) went out to get my wife a traditional Vietnamese dress. How to spell it slips my mind ATM. After buying the fabric we went to the seamstress. Total cost of two one-of-a-kind dresses custom made: ~$70.
Fast forward to lunch. Vy and her mom took us to a restaurant with just about everything on the menu. My wife and I let them order. I got my first traditional Vietnamese iced coffee and it was perfection. Seriously. I coulda drank 8+.
At this restaurant they do this weird smashing clay pot and throwing rice thing. Idk why but here’s how it works. They cook rice in a clay pot. They smash the clay pot while holding it in one hand wearing an oven mitt. Then they toss the baked rice across the room and a customer catches the rice on their plate.
We watched someone do it, an older white man, and he dropped the flying rice biscuit! The restaurant was cool and made them another one for their table. We ordered one to pretty much to make me look dumb. However I manned up and caught my rice frisbee. Then proceeded to get high-fives from multiple tables. It was pretty cool…
We all split a handful of dishes — a spicy tofu dish, chicken of some kind, beef with pumpkin blossoms (yeah I don’t know what those are either but I liked them) and a shrimp dish. Oh and we got egg rolls. I had two more. My total egg roll count is up to 7.
For those dishes, the baked rice thing, and drinks for everyone lunch came out to around $60. Not “cheap” but definitely affordable for what we got for 6 people (the driver ate with us too). I’m not complaining one bit. That meal would have cost $150 plus tip and tax back home.
Next we went to the Ben Thanh Market. This place is well known. It felt pretty touristy IMO. That’s the most white people I’ve seen in any one place in Asia before. We bought a couple souvenirs. My wife’s cousin-in-law haggled for us. She ended up cutting all the costs by 2/3. No joke. And Vy bought us sugarcane juice which was OUT OF THIS WORLD GOOD. I’ve had sugarcane juice probably 25 times in my life. I like it. It’s never something I crave. This juice today though, I’ll crave everyday for the rest of my life.
Now we’re resting until dinner at my wife’s cousin’s house. We’re fairly beat from the travel and humidity. I’m tolerating the weather better than my wife is but it’s still fairly uncomfortable. It’s such a weird humidity. It doesn’t punch you like a DC summer. It slowly zaps you and its ever present.
Alright. That’s all I have for now. I’ll try to remember to post pictures for this once I’m back home.