Impression of Vietnam – Day 1 in Saigon, a Full Belly for Sleeping

28 March 2013

It was a hot day in Jakarta. In early morning, I already packed and checked again my stuff. In total, I will bring 3 bags. Quite inconvenience I know, but one is my backpack, one is the camera bag and one is my hand bag. On this small body, I always feel kind of amazing how can I get that muscle to carry it all. Anyway, with my sister bring me to the road with her motorbike, I try to stabilize my balance, since I also need to bring my laptop and put there on my office desk before leaving the Office for Vietnam.

Trip from my home to the office is took 2 hours, with inconvenience bus and a public car. My body was starting to sweat and I am so dizzy to lift all those bags and trying my best for not disturbing other’s passenger in the bus. Finally I took the taxi after reaching Rambutan Shelter, I can’t stand on it anymore. Can’t imagine if I need to go with 4 bags on my hands using that troubled bus I usually do every week days.

Arrive in the office, actually my mind wasn’t there anymore. I always saw the clock waiting for my break time. I already asked permission to go on break time, I submitted 5,5 days off permission, and my boss approved it. In total, I will be in Vietnam for 11 days.

Ahh yes! Finally time to go!

After said goodbye to some of my colleagues, and put my laptop on the rack. I was heading to Lebak Bulus Shelter. It took 30 minutes from my office to arrive there. Time still 11.30 pm but I already eager to go. I was afraid the traffic can be so bad, since today is the long weekend. Tomorrow, people will celebrate Good Friday, so some people I believe also go to other cities as well to get a vacation.

We have a convenience bus to go to the airport. It quite cheap. Cost 25k Rupiah and the bus has big seat, AC, adapter for charging your phone and if you are lucky, a good music! It called DAMRI bus. Just as my assumption, the traffic was quite bad. Traffic everywhere, luckily I decided to go a little bit earlier. After plug my Blackberry and Tab to the charger, I sat nicely and felt into the sleep once the bus went on.

My flight will be on 4.35 pm from Jakarta, and reaching Ho Chi Minh at 7.40 pm. At 1 pm, I already arrived in Soekarno Hatta International Airport – Jakarta. For International flight, you have to be there at least 2-3 hours before departure, to manage the check in – luggage – immigration process, and everything. Glad I was arrived on time and still have so many times to wait in the waiting room.

Oh well, I was so exciting, nervous and feel so happy. A friend that lives in Saigon will pick me up from the airport. She was so nice and gave me so many information. I was so glad I can meet her. Maybe I was too exciting so I didn’t catch sleep so properly, that’s why I feel a little bit sleepy. I saw two Foreign Traveler slept, one on the floor and one on the chairs. They don’t care with anything at all.

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I tried to sleep on the chair with my backpack as my pillow. Then I move to another chair to seeing the information board easily. I don’t want to miss the flight. Maybe when I was move, my Ipod felt down from my pocket. That’s the second silly things I did in this trip, except forget bring my ATM card as I said in my previous article.

A little bit disappointed with my own self because losing the Ipod, I heard they called my flight. I stand on the line, I decided to not ruin my mood by feeling bad because the Ipod. Anyway, I still have 10 days to enjoy life, being on vacation and seeing new things. I was away from my working desk and can do whatever I wanna do or experience. I was so EXCITING!

Promptly at 7.40 pm, we reached Ho Chi Minh, the Tan Son Nhat airport. As our conversation, Tra, my new Vietnamese friend will wait me in the building with BIG Canon ad on it. I tried to ask the airport crew, but their English quite bad, so I prefer to find out how to go there once I saw the ad. I remember what Tra told me to ask to young people, they know English better and mostly can speak English. That’s true. I approached a girl, and she told me how to go out from the airport and go to that building.

As I haven’t bought any local simcard yet, my phone still roaming and soon my credit was gone when I received call from Tra. Don’t you think it’s quite annoying to have the different phone provider, why don’t they make it all same as same adapter in every where, so we don’t need to buy Traveler Multi International Charger which so expensive for me (around 40$/each). After some short confused, finally I met her! She rode her own motor bike, with beautiful polkadot dress, long hair and heels. Can’t you imagine?! How amaze I am seeing the Vietnamese easily ride their motorbike with their heels and skirt!

What shock me on my first impression about Saigon is, how so many, I say again, so many motorbikes on the street. Crazy!!! They have opposite system as in Indonesia, which make me a little bit dizzy at first. Motorbikes can turn left or right without any sign at all! Look like Bajaj in Indonesia, hahaha, only God and them know which direction they wanna go. Another contrast that I saw is Motorbikes Riders only use simple helmet. Not the full-face ones, which in Indonesia, if you wear that kind of helmet, police will catch you and drop you to the jail. But I guess, rule in Vietnam is different with one had in Indonesia, they are ok with that kind of helmet.

Another fascinating observation I had is when I see so many street foods every where. OMG. I wanna try it all! What is quite funny for me is the chairs they had for eating in street foods. It’s not like the normal chair, it’s quite short and small one. I even saw women with skirt and boots eating comfortably in that kind of chairs. Very funny for me all this distinction.

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You know what another odd thing for me? How they number the motorbike while parking. The parking man will write the number on the motorcycle seat with white chalk. Hihihiiii… Simple but for me it’s so exciting. Maybe because I tend to see in details to observe some differences we had between Indonesia and Vietnam.

We ate our dinner in beautiful restaurant. I was so hungry because I skip lunch in order to eat Vietnamese food. Tra brought me to a very nice Hoi-An Restaurant. As it name, this restaurant serve you the Hoi-An cuisine with Hoi-An decoration. Honestly, I can’t recognize which one is Hoi An decoration, and which one not. In my general opinion, the decoration look like Japanese. But I remember, there’s also Japanese bridge in Hoi-An. A coincidence? I don’t know.

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Quickly Tra ordered some food for both of us. I told her I can eat anything. And I trust her for my digestion, hahahaa. She is from Hoi-An province, that’s why she love to bring me to this Restaurant. I was glad so, because I have the idea what Hoi-An cuisine looks like. She ordered the grill fish, banana flower, fish on the pot plus rice paper for us to make our own spring roll and squid. All was soooooo delicious!

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Immediately, my belly fill with those amazing food. This is heaven. This is what I know and always listen about Vietnam, their food are so yummy and be ready to gain some weight! We close the food with hot tea. Oh well, the taste of tea is quite different with I used to drink. It contains with seed of something, which I don’t know. Taste like the Sunflower seed or something, but it was so nice, very fit with the seafood we ate that night.

I was so exciting learning to make my own spring roll, even Tra showed me how to make it, but still I can’t fold the rice papers as good as she did. Poor me!

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The Banana Flower, a veggie that I know before but don’t want to eat in Indonesia, because I think it’s bitter, amazingly taste very nice. After time reached to 11 pm. We went to Tra’s renting room. I was so lucky to meet her and can stay in her place for one night. I brought one of Eiffel’s painting for her, cause I know she wants to go to Europe one day, maybe this year. We had a good conversation before we sleep. I met with her brother, a shy guy that actually can understand English but ashamed to talk.

My first night in Saigon is so great. I believe another days will be exhilarate. I can’t wait for another adventures coming tomorrow.

Now I said goodbye to the world. I was closing my eyes in the sky of Saigon.

xx,
Dea

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