This post concludes my travelogue of my trip to Asia. First, I went to Hong Kong and Macau. Then I went to Vietnam and Cambodia. Next, I traveled to beautiful Boracay! I ended the trip in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I had a fabulous trip, but it’s good to be back home (although it feels a bit strange).
I had fun getting to know Ho Chi Minh City better on the last leg of my journey. I saw some pretty awesome things.
The majority of Day 17 was spent further exploring Ho Chi Minh City. We went on a tour of the city via Vespa motorbikes through Vietnam Vespa Adventures! It was fun to get an insiders look of HCMC and be in the middle of the insane city traffic. We scootered to a Buddha monk statue, a wholesale market, a temple, a pagoda (they don’t eat meat or dairy there!), and along the Saigon river. We also went to the Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral again as part of the tour. After the tour, we went to the Ben Thanh market again to do some gift shopping! We also got some exotic fruit to try. We tried lychee*, soursop*, pomelo, dragon fruit, passionfruit, jackfruit*, papaya, long gan*, and star fruit* throughout the course of the trip. For dinner, we went to a Vietnamese restaurant that had options that said “vegan” on the menu! This was the first time that I’d seen this on my trip!
*I liked this fruit.
Day 18: We went to the HCMC Zoo because that was the #1 thing on my brother’s to-see list in Ho Chi Minh City. I don’t love zoos, but the animals at this zoo seemed to be treated fine. There were nice gardens and some cute animals at the zoo. After the zoo, we ate lunch at a French café, L’Usine. The food was decent. We went to Saigon Square afterwards, which is like a mall but with stalls instead of stores. It’s like the next level up from Ben Thanh market (an indoor-outdoor market). At 6, we went to the A O Show at the HCMC Opera House, an ornate French-colonial building. The show was a mixture of acrobatics, acting, and stunts made into little vignettes about Vietnamese culture. It was applause-worthy!
Day 19 (New Year’s Eve): We woke up early and took a van to the Cu Chi Tunnels, about 1 and 1/2 hours from our hotel. I cannot believe that North Vietnamese soldiers lived in such small tunnels during the Vietnam war. I had a tough time crawling 50 meters through a tunnel, so I can’t imagine how the soldiers felt living in such a cramped space. I don’t know if I could live like that, even if it was a matter of life or death. After the tunnels, we traveled 2 and 1/2 hours to the Mekong Delta. We went to Unicorn Island by boat (that’s the island’s legit name!), where we sampled exotic fruit, tea, coconut candy, and listened to traditional Vietnamese songs. The whole day was an organized tour, and all in all it wasn’t very good because we didn’t have a very good tour guide (because he didn’t speak much english). We didn’t feel we had enough time at both places, either. My advice to you for travel: limit the organized tours. Go places on your own after researching them beforehand. That way, you’ll have as much time as you want there! After the tour, we drove back to the hotel and got dressed for NYE. We ate a 4 course dinner at a fancy restaurant (they made special food for me!), then went out on a speedboat to view fireworks from the Saigon River. The fireworks were off of 3 levels of buildings, 1 being a helipad! They were spectacular. Afterwards, we went back to the restaurant and danced with people from all over the world!
Day 20, New Year’s Day, was spent sleeping and relaxing! We got hot stone massages. Best. Massage. Ever! We spent the rest of the day eating and saying goodbye to HCMC.
Day 21: We flew to Hong Kong at noon. We stayed in a swanky hotel with a workout room (YES!) and a food room (double YES!). We went to Mong Kok Market and bought some traditional Asian clothing. It was a great last night in Asia.
Day 22-23: We flew back to the USA. Our flight from Hong Kong to Seattle was 11 and 1/2 hours, then we had a 3 and 1/2 hour flight and a 1 hour flight. We had January 3 twice because of time changes! It feels strange to be back in the USA and back in my own bed after 3 weeks abroad! It also feels weird to be back at school after almost a month off. I’ll be spending this week getting acclimated again!
This trip was amazing and I am so thankful for it. I hope that you get a chance sometime to go to Asia and find adventure there! I also hope that you had a wonderful holiday season!