Monday, June 5, 2017

DAD --> PQC --> SGN

The bad news: I'm flying back to the States on Wednesday.

The good news: I'm flying back to the States on Wednesday.

As you can tell, I have mixed feelings about this. I'm obviously excited to get back to all my friends and family, but at the same time, I love the nomad life! Despite its disadvantages, it suits me.

I returned to Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday afternoon, and received a warm welcome at The Common Room Project, where I originally stayed when I first arrived. They were so happy to see me they even gave me the big bed. :) 

Phu Quoc Vietnam harbor boats
But before my return to Saigon, I visited Phu Quoc Island. I'm not much of a beach person--and Phu Quoc Island is pretty much all beach--but I wanted to go snorkeling. I'd never been snorkeling. I booked a tour through my hostel and headed out on a boat. Then they gave me a mask and breathing tube and basically just told me to jump in the ocean and go. A little more instruction would have been appreciated--it took me a while to get used to blowing water out of the tube. Or maybe I was doing something wrong and there shouldn't have been water in there at all? No idea. 

That said, I had a nice time. I suspect it wasn't the most spectacular place to snorkel. There was coral, and some fish. But not bright coral or huge fish. For a first time, though, it'll do. At least I didn't get stung by a jellyfish or a sea urchin or anything.

When we were finished with our second snorkeling...dive? I don't know what you'd call it. When we were finished with our second round of snorkeling, the friendly Russian couple I met on the boat looked at me askance. "You still very pale. You like milk."

Painfully accurate.

Phu Quoc also had one of my favorite night markets that I visited. Plenty of fresh seafood--although it was a bit pricier than your average market. One night I got Indian food, and I swear the garlic naan was the size of a large pizza. Needless to say, I did not finish it.

What have I been up to in HCMC? Mostly buying souvenirs. YOU'RE WELCOME. Ben Thanh Market was just as miserable as I expected it to be. Well, to be fair, the market itself was not miserable. Bartering is miserable. It is an utterly joyless process. I'm sure I paid more than I should have for lots of things--but I think I got good deals on a few items, at least.

Afterwards I rewarded myself with a trip to Propaganda, a chic bistro that serves upscale Vietnamese food in a room filled with 50's and 60's propaganda art. However, I sat on the patio. I had a beer and crunchy tri-colored rice with shredded chicken and a fried egg on top. It was delicious.

Cu Chi Tunnels Vietnam
Today I took a trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels--part of the massive system of tunnels built by the guerrilla fighters during the Vietnam War. The whole site is swimming with tourists, of course, but it was interesting to see. Showing off the traps full of sharp spikes that they used against American soldiers--still interesting, but also kind of disturbing. My favorite part was when they actually let us climb through the tunnels. Thank goodness I'm not claustrophobic! I didn't have to crawl, but I was crouched to the point that my stomach met my knees, and my backpack scraped the ceiling. There were only a few inches on either side of my body, too. And when we climbed out on the other side, our guide told us that they had doubled the size of the tunnels before they allowed tourists to visit. Doubled! At the original size, I would have been shimmying along on my stomach for sure.

Our guide essentially forced us to take photos at one of the hidden tunnel entrances. There was this Australian guy in my group who had quite a gut, and he literally got stuck. It took three other men to pull him out.

Tonight there's a family dinner at my hostel, and then tomorrow is my last full day! I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to do.

Any suggestions?