Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Hello from Ho Chi Minh City

I haven't had much of a chance to explore the city yet, but I did take a long walk yesterday afternoon. First impressions:
  • HOT. Like, 95-degrees-help-I'm-melting hot. Not that I didn't expect this--it is a tropical climate, after all. But I haven't experienced this kind of humidity in quite some time, so it's still a shock. 
  • As far as appearance goes, Ho Chi Minh City looks a lot like Beijing, but with more colorful buildings and with more plant life. The plants really are gorgeous--huge trees bursting through the sidewalk and flowering vines hanging over people's windows. Here's the view from my room in the hostel.
  • Sidewalks: they exist, but not consistently. They double as scooter parking, so half the time there's no room to walk. And you have to watch your step, as many of the tiles are cracked and uneven. People keep burning things on the sidewalk as well? Trash, maybe? Not sure. But I'll take inconsistent sidewalks over walking in the street--the traffic is wild. Crossing streets is an act of faith. Even when the light is in your favor, the scooters just cruise right around you. It will probably take some time for me to develop the confidence that they're not going to hit me. 
  • There are many dogs! Nice to see cute little fluffs everywhere. My hostel has a cat named Cersei. I was going to take a picture of him last night (yes, Cersei is a male cat, despite his namesake), but he was eating a giant cockroach. I figured it wasn't the most flattering time. 
  • Street food: plentiful and tasty. I sat myself down for a bowl of phở at a sidewalk cafe last night, and alas, I forgot to take a picture. I'm the worst tourist. It was yummy--though I will have to suck it up and get over my aversion to fatty meat while I'm here. It's just the texture that bothers me, rather than the flavor. So horribly chewy. ::shiver::
So here's a story that will only be meaningful to those of you who know my beverage preferences: I drank a coffee this morning. WHAT. I know. I didn't have much of a choice--one of the Vietnamese women working at my hostel was deeply adamant that I try a Vietnamese coffee--iced, with loads of sugary milk. I felt like it would have been rude to refuse, despite my deep dislike of coffee. Though I must say, the gobs of sugar made it palatable, at least. It sort of tasted like liquid tiramisu. I may even have more of them while I'm here, as it seems to be The Thing To Do. 

The agenda for today: maybe a bookstore, maybe some bánh mì, and certainly a trip to the War Remnants Museum, as I am a consummate nerd. My hostel is having a family dinner night as well, so this may be a good opportunity to speak to other humans. We shall see. 

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