Within five minutes or two traffic lights I understand the hype of ho chi minh city. Motorcycles are seriously everywhere. it is madness.Of the four lanes functioning here, at least three.. and a half ..are covered in the two-wheeled Vespas. Apart from this trendy transport, the town is pretty westernized. Coffee cafes, scooter shops, and christmas ornamentations indicate a strong French colonization and later American influence. The streets are actually clean here, eat that Bangkok! but moreso there is something alive and artistic in the way normal tasks are being completed. The small restaurants, the people walking with paintings in their hands, the shops. .. all is intriguing, but I doubt I will have time to uncover why.
In fact, I definitely won’t. After a rooftop dinner of spanish omelettes and fajita sandwiches? (completely out of cultural context) Laura and I decide to book a 24 hour bus-ride to hoi-an.. an ancient unesco world heritage site in central vietnam. realizing the length of coastline we need to pass through to reach hanoi, we agree we might as well start as soon as possible… a sleeper bus seems to offer the cheapest and quickest route. we can only hope that our lower backs will forgive us for such decision-making. So that’s it…6:30 am we must be ready to go.
For now, we decide to find a guest house to rest our heads. and guest houses are plentiful in ho chi minh. behind the main roads and vendors is an unnavigable maze of alleyways and small homes that allow travelers a night’s stay with prices you don’t have to cringe at. the family who approached us on the street accepts our $7 dollars (140,000 dong) for the night and escort us up a oddly steep flight of wooden narrow stairs until we reach a small room with balcony that overlooks the road below us. confirming that we will take it, they return to watching a comedy on the floor downstairs, eating noodles from purple faded bowls, i could watch them for another twenty minutes if it wasn’t slightly creepy. but they are so familialy perfect.
from the nest of this guest house I hear motorcycles coming and going, some far off television shows breaking up, and the closing, or flapping rather of screen doors. standing over this terrace, i see the sources of the sounds that intrigued me. This is their daily life. One woman is lying on the floor weaving something of a burgundy color, a younger woman is eating pho with chopsticks, and a dark-haired child is taunting a small scruffy-haired puppy. I stretch my arms as if this will help me take it all in before turning to go back inside..sleep is needed. however, The noises continue to seep in through our window, and in some ways reveal more about the culture than i initially picked up. how can i go to sleep now. there is such a strength in isolating the senses. Dishes are clattering in the house to the left, and a faucet is switched on. the flow of water coalesces with the sound of the fan in our room. its oscillating breeze moves across my back in an odd pattern, harmonizing with the cleaning of dishes… Another motorbike passes, I hear the shuffling of sandels against the cement, and fragments of a vietnamese conversation i can not understand.
However, my listening must not have lasted too long, for I wake up around 6 am, sunglasses and yesterday’s clothing still on my body.. Sure evidence of an unpredictable sleep invasion. We shower, and quietly bid goodbye to Nhu and her husband…slip on our sandles, and head out into the bright lights of an already bustling Ho Chi Minh City.
i cant believe we must already bid it farewell. a short hello and goodbye to southern vietnam. the two of us are rushing to board a bus, following the insistent call of our driver, my picture taking is making him late. apologies and smiles and away we go… headed for whatever hoi-an may hold for us.
note – future posts may or may not be limited due to lack of internet access in the upcoming days. bear with me avid readers haha i ensure you we are still alive and will post whenever possible. over and out.