leaving my beautiful two houses in indonesia and england which are warm as toast to have a solo backpacking trip in vietnam. i did it within slow pace, as reflection of daily live in such of small cities at the nam: hue and hoi an that i like so much.
landed at the new tan son nhat airport sai gon, here the travel had started. brand new airport, very clean and organized. nice first imagine about the country which is listed in the association of the southeast asian nations [asean] and the rest of asean’s countries that i never been visited.
further down in the city, oh yeah … here i am, soaked in the fast pace daily life in uncle ho’s city. chaotic, traffic jam, fumes, smogs, honking cars and motorbikes anywhere all the time. the atmosphere just remind me to jakarta, capital city of indonesia in 1970s that i watched from my parents’ old movies and pictures.
welcome to sai gon! can not help but smile to remember one of the posting in the net mentioned, “it will be hard to cross the road since motorbikes never give you a chance.” and i think, “oh doesn’t matter. we have it in jakarta also experienced in cairo, egypt.”
but i was wrong. it’s far more worse, even in small town like hoi an, i think i can not do crossing that fast. and back to sai gon, almost impossible. so my ‘trick’, patiently awaiting group [s] who will crossing the lane. and i landed safely at the opposite side of the road.
and not forget to mentioned about the snatch bags that seems common in sai gon [also some cases in ha noi. but since i never been to ha noi yet, i can not say about the comparison or similarity].
motorbike with two passengers, one concentrated to drive and another one to snatch the targets. then what happened if the victims try to protect their bags, they will trying harder!
from some articles, i read the result can be worse. broken collars and fall on the road. hit by other cars or motorbikes. one of the source in the net warned, “do not ever carry your slr camera around your neck or hold it by one hand. it’s pretty good idea to invite the robbers.” and honestly .. it’s frightened me before the departure. but using common precautions i did it safely in sai gon and the rest of viet nam in my trip.
what else about something bad that i have to face it by my own during the trip in viet nam? scams.
booked a nice hotel a bit outskirt of the old town of hoi an, what i’d got? a pretty plain place with interior and condition that exactly not matching with the pictures shown on the net [oh yeah, how naive i was, of course photoshop or even steal picture from other places can be done here? hahaha, stupid me].
number two, must leave my valuable passport at the receptionist desk. no way, it’s a big no for me, especially i already carried so many passport copy for this purpose.
so i decided to find somewhere else which is situated inside the old town. i’d successfully moved to my dream places [very basic on second night and bit luxurious in the end of the visit ;)] and how to ended the scam place i’d stay for the first night?
i pay in usd but they insisted to pay vietnamese dong for exchange rate. okay, i have no choice or i have to lose the rest of my money. then, the receptionist keep insist do i already pay my small mineral water 6,000 dong? i can be intolerant … “hey lady, i agreed with all stupid mandatory of your hotel. including talk honestly about what i’d taken from the fridge. and it’s already added in my bill!” i scream out loud that made her keep silent for moment.
then, “okay okay .. i am sorry, can you wait for the receipt since i feel a bit sleepy?” i smile, “no, thanks. finish your dream on your bed before talking with your costumers next time.”
thank God, that’s the only stupid thing happened during my visit in viet nam. i found vietnamese were nice and friendly. even an old lady on my way back from da nang to sai gon. she’s about 70s and send a nice smile to me in the airport.
i give mine in return and she’s coming closer. touch my hand gently and trying to say some words. all i can say just, “khong, khong tieng viet. but it’s nice to meet you.”
she open her wallet and show me a picture. probably her daughter or grand daughter? we talk in different language but seems we can understand to each other? in the plane, she’s even stand up for moment to see where am i sitting and smile again when she saw me clearly on her sight.
and most dramatic, she gave me hugs before my departure at tan son nhat airport international. so my old lady, chao tam biet … you are an enchanting person.
what i’d done in viet nam:
~ sai gon [french quarter and co lon]
~ da nang [nui ngu hanh son or marble mountain, my khe or china beach]
~ hue [the citadel and walled city]
~ hoi an [the old town and son my the cham ruins]
pros:”unique culture, heritage buildings and nice sceneries”
cons: “petty crimes turn me off!”
in a nutshell: “rewarding yourself by visiting small cities … hassle-free”