My Trip To Vietnam - Peace in the Chaos (Ho Chi Minh City) Skip to main content

My Trip To Vietnam - Peace in the Chaos (Ho Chi Minh City)

Vietnam has always fascinated travelers all around the world without actually pointing out any one thing specifically. You might be traveling to India to visit just the Taj Mahal but why do you want to take a trip to Vietnam? There is no such thing. You just want to visit Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. But why do you want to do that? I don't know! And perhaps I did not get this answer from all the videos describing the beauty of Vietnam. This was something that had been playing in my mind ever since I saw a guy crossing a road with a million scooters coming at him. That looks like India though! Would that be the reason? I don't know! And so I pinged my friend Sudhanshu if he'd be interested in taking a trip to Vietnam with me - a beautiful and mesmerizing country. Ah! Sure he is. I knew the answer before even asking him. He and I have made and canceled plans a lot of the time. The one thing that we decided on our trip to Ladakh was to visit Vietnam (or maybe another south-east Asian country). It was one of the moments that my ears would have heard "Yes" even if he would have actually said "No".

This time he was excited as it was a long due plan and the flight rates could not have motivated us more. Although we paid a cost for that price, it was enough for both of us to book a flight for October and pack our bags to Ho Chi Minh City.

New Delhi To Ho Chi Minh City

Our trip to Vietnam was Sudhanshu's first international trip and as anyone would be, he too was excited to visit a land that did not belong to our country. Actually, his family was equally excited for him as evidenced by continuous video calls that resembled the audience of a live news channel constantly engaged to know the happenings. We booked our flight through VietJet Airways which supposedly was the cheapest option to travel to Vietnam. It was a five-hour flight and the airlines made sure that they did not list their price just to get the bookings. Surprisingly, the flight attendants had only four liters of water for the entire flight of 200 people. A boys' group that sat just in front of me was smart enough (or should I say selfish enough) to realize this soon and filled their bottles at the counter. This "refilling" was apart from the tens of glasses they gulped down separately. This left with no water with the crew and two hundred thirsty people in an enclosed space with them. You can't run from them. I watched those boys drinking the water and still demanding more. Of course, this was an invitation to an open fight which unsurprisingly, the flight attendant did not resist.

"You just had two liters of water."

Wow, no sir involved in that sentence, I thought to myself.

"What kind of people are you that do not take water on the flight"

"There was enough water if you would not have taken it all"

This was enough for me, anyway. I knew the flight attendant's behavior won't hurt the airlines when you are listing your prices as almost half of the other ones. And how would this fight possibly end? By making a layover in Thailand and bringing water on board? It was ironic to see people fighting for water who already have a lot with them. Reminded me of people for small petty rights when most people do not even exercise those that they do every day.

A window seat should not be wasted on this quarrel. I looked out the sky and in the dark night, I saw another flight beside me. There were dark clouds everywhere. Are they raining on the country below me? Which country is below me anyway? How can I know, the airline does not bother much about providing the screens to us. Let me assume we are above the open sea. That would be the best guess of all as a lot of our route included the sea. I dozed off with those thoughts.

"Wooooooow." The unthirsty boy (unlike the rest of the 190 of us) said in a pitch that someone would use when they need to call their friend across the road. I am sure all of the people would have heard it. It woke me up after all. I looked at him from the side of his seat and he took out his phone and took it to the window. I looked outside. The sun was tearing out the clouds with its beautiful rays announcing the start of a new day. It was the most beautiful sunrise I had ever seen from a plane. With so many clouds just trying their best to cover the sun, it had escaped from a big hole in between. A sea of clouds with a hole in between that had the sun. This was something that took away my sleep and left me like that for the rest of my journey on the flight.

Ho Chi Minh City - Saigon in Love

Once me and my friend, Sudhanshu, had done the immigration, we sat down on the stairs to wait for our bags. I was looking for water taps to quench my thirst as airports in India generally have them at regular short distances. I saw one in front of me. I walked towards it thinking of finally drinking a gallon out of it but the taps were turned white from grey. It looked like there has never been any drop of water from them. Ever. The sink had the same condition too. I did not bother to press the button and turned back towards the belt. A few steps onto my way, I thought what if it actually had water? I should definitely give it a try. It was one of those feelings that come when we know what will happen but still proceed to do it anyway. I knew what was going to happen and there were no surprises when my fingerprints, the only fingerprints that button saw in recent years, pushed the buttons.

"We need to buy a sim card and a bit of cash for outside," I said to my friend which was quickly neglected due to the high prices of SIM cards in the airports. He had researched that. We proceeded for only ATM withdrawals and exited the airport into "Ho Chi Minh City". We can buy the sim from local shops outside at half the rates. 

Our first interaction on this trip to Vietnam was with a guy who said something in Vietnamese. We didn't know that. We did not even know what to say to him to go to our destination. I asked another man who was in a uniform and looked like a cab driver as he had a purse and a machine in his hand. Without the internet, it was too hard to explain where did we want to go. I told him the nearest bus stop which I knew from before and we thought we would manage from there. He walked towards a small van usually used to pick up the kids from school. Orange in color. Actually, too orange! The sunshine reflected from that paint. It was only us and an old man who did not know how to tell the amount in English. He tried in Vietnamese but soon took out the calculator and entered the amount for our short journey. I knew now that our time in Vietnam is not going to be easy communication-wise. 

We got down to a bus stop, a name I do not remember. Under the trees in the morning at around 11, I, at the footpath, looked up at the trees. The breeze is cool - a perfect October breeze. I can finally see scooters everywhere that I had just seen through a screen. We went into a supermarket in the hope of catching a free WiFi network and luckily, we did. We memorized the path as it was just around 300 meters or so. I took one magnum ice cream and a KitKat and we were on our way. The road was filled with street vendors to my right. With a Vietnamese hat on, I could see insects that were alive being sold in kilos to the people. It's definitely not the first time I have seen this and it's definitely as weird as before. The road became denser and denser with increased vendors and the variety of items they sold. The smell of so much animal flesh overwhelmed me, especially being a vegetarian. We arrived at our hotel before that road ended.

Ho Chi Minh City was my first introduction on my trip to Vietnam and as I must say, it was not different from any other big city like New Delhi or Mumbai. High-end hotels and tall buildings are something that bore me down to my veins, especially in a new place. In a way, we thought it was good that we first visited HCMC so that our later journey would be inclined toward culture and "actual Vietnam". But that does not mean we sat on a patio and waited for our watches to complete two circles quickly. Definitely not. Even though HCMC was a city, it was a city that breathed Vietnamese into its air. It was a lot to explore in this new place and a new country. A story that I will share in a post dedicated just to Ho Chi Minh City in a few days.



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