It’s been a week since my big move to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and so far I’m loving it! The sense of pride and accomplishment in settling down in a foreign land all by yourself can only be experienced and cannot be translated into words. Your first-times will always stay special and here is my list of “first-times” in HCMC :
- Took a motorbike taxi. 😀 Perfect for solo travelers. You can find them in every nook and corner of Ho Chi Minh. Initially the ride was a bit scary, given that it is a complete stranger you are riding behind and add to it the heavy traffic and no-rules attitude. ( Having not ridden my bike in India for almost 2 years made it harder). But I got used to it already since its cheaper than taking a taxi, more convenient & perfectly safe.
- Had my first Vietnamese street food. For the first couple of days before I had found my own place where I can start cooking, I was heading only to fast food chains and did not try the delicious looking dishes in the street restaurants for the fear of catching a stomach infection. I wasn’t sure if my gut was geared up for this gastronomical adventure. But finally on the 4th day of my landing in HCMC I gathered up my courage and had the famous “Pho Ga” in a road side shop. It was basically chicken noodle soup with a slight flavouring. The interesting part of the experience is having a spoon in one hand and chopsticks on the other and managing to mimic the locals after a few slip-ups 😉
- Walked 22 km in one week. I don’t think I have walked this much in a very long time! Exploring every street while learning to pronounce its name, along with my terrible sense of direction proved to be a big challenge but was hugely rewarded. I now know where to get the cheapest footwear, the freshest veggies and the most exotic fruits 😉
- Experienced kindness in a unique way that re-enforced in me that language is never a barrier! During one of my several walking expeditions, my loyal yet worn out slipper finally breathed its last and I was stranded in the middle of the road (I was just on the way to buy a new one!). While I was desperately trying to hire a motorbike taxi for the last 500 m stretch, 3 kind souls who were the doormen for the nearest hotel understood my pathetic situation and helped fix it temporarily. All I could do was to repeatedly bow to them to show my gratitude since they didn’t know even a bit of English. One of my best experiences in the city!
- Spent 1 Million in a super market 😀 Oh yeah, 1 Million Vietnamese Dong roughly equals 50$. It is weird dealing with such large sums of money even if their value is less. My division skills are tested every time I go out shopping!
There are more to come on my experiences in this land of surprises. This 6 month stint also gives me an exciting opportunity to explore the beautiful South East Asia! Will share my bucket list with you all soon and let’s see how many I am able to cross off by June! Happy New Year folks and stick to your resolutions just like me 😉