Friday, January 8, 2010

Gooooooooood Morning Vietnam (part 1)

Well its actually now afternoon, but this is now our second attempt at a successful post for the day and its now nearing afternoon. Today has been a bit stressful, but first let us tell you about our arrival.

So it took us about 20 hours and 3 flights to get to Vietnam- it was a long and tiring plane ride that left us completely drained both emotionally and physically. I think we have some PTSD about it. So we were super excited to land in Ho Chi Minh City, not only to get off the plane, but also to start our crazy adventure. The airport here in Saigon is CRAZY!! It took what felt like forever for our luggage to appear on that conveyor belt amist the hundreds of cardboard boxes that people over here seem to use as luggage. After Caitlin almost got knocked out by a Vientame man yielding a Jansport as a weapon we were ready to leave the airport and find our hotel- ohh we stopped at the ATM first and guess what? We are MILLIONAIRES over here!!
So we walk out of the airport and are faced with lines of wall to wall Vietnamese people. It kind of looked like a red carpet event except we are not famous and they were not taking our picture. So once we made it through the sea of people at the arrivals gate we were faced with dozens of taxi drivers vying for our business. The first taxi man told us it would be $35 US to bring us to our hotel, but priding ourselves in being smart savvy travelers who had read it should only cost $6 we declined his services and moved on. We found another man who told us he would take us for $10 US which we happily accepted as we fist bumped each other and basked in our awesomeness of not getting scammed in our first 10 minutes in the country. This celebration was short lived however because as we pulled up to the hotel and heaved our 40lb backpacks onto our shoulders our driver told us we had to pay him another 300.000 dong for “airport parking”. So we still ended up paying way to much for the taxi, but we got to the hotel and had a place to call home for the next few days so whatevs we rolled with the punches.
After a quick rest and a hot shower we ventured out to explore this crazy city. Let us tell you a little bit about Vietnam. Is a crazy, noisy congested city full of people on cyclos weaving in and out of traffic trying not to run over the little Vietnamese ladies selling noodles and oranges on the street corners. All you hear all day is the sound of beeping horns and the chatter of a language that is completely uncomprehendable to us. We are staying in the “backpackers ghetto” so it was reassuring to see other travelers. We found a cute little restaurant with outdoor seating and stopped to have lunch. The food was delicious and it was neat to watch all the locals go about their daily business, either pushing the random cart of small trees, trying to sell fake ray-bans or carrying their overflowing basket of oranges. After lunch our jetlag hit us, but not wanting to completely waste our first day we decided to treat ourselves to a massage, and by treat ourselves we mean spend $9 US on an hour long massage. We will however use the term massage loosely because we quickly realized these are not massages like the ones back home. Relaxing and calming are not words I would use to describe this experience. To start off they bring you into a communal massage room where they tell you to strip down right there in the open- no towels no robes. With background music of instrumental 90s soft rock and snoring old men you lay on the table and are literally walked all over by 89lb Vietnamese women. No drinks were bought, no doors were opened but we were straddled, crawled over, poked prodded and God only knows what else. After the beating… or massage we needed a nap and headed back to our hotel planning on just a quick refresher before dinner. As Laura and Amanda are well aware these quick naps sometimes turn into 10 hour naps as we ended up sleeping from 5pm-3am.

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