You’re off to great places! You’re off and away!
A wise man once said when you don’t know where to start, start from the beginning because it’s a very good place to start. So here goes.
We fare-welled Mark’s family and two of my wonderful friends that came to see us off in Palmerston North on Friday morning. This goodbye was certainly not coy as the reality was seeping in and we shared tears all round (except for Russel and Kathy – staunch til the end). It all seemed much ado about nothing as the destination was only Auckland where we spent the rest of the day with more of Mark’s family.
Our last day in beautiful old NZ couldn’t have been better! We went for a wander around Kohimarama and St Helliers bays, ate icecream and basked in the skin-burning, low humidity sunshine for one last time.
Then it was out for tea with the family and then off to the Koru Lounge (because we’re high fliers like that – actually we’ve just spent that much money on our credit card that we scored 2 free passes). New goal – be rich enough to have a annual Koru Lounge membership! Free booze (including cocktails), free and delicious food, all the pretzels a girl could dream of, comfy chairs, the list goes on so why would fly any other way (because we’re too poor, that’s why).
The flight to Singapore was approx 10 hours, luckily for Mark he can sleep at the drop of a hat, unfortunately for me it was a long 10 hours with only a few hours of average sleep, the silver lining was that I managed to watch a good chunck of the movies i wanted to watch. Tip: Sleeping pill, eye mask, travel pillow √
After a brief stopover in Singapore and another flight (and movie) we arrived in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), stepped out into the heat and must’ve looked like a couple of fish out of water taking it all in. Scooters! My god you’ve never seen that many scooters in your life! Lots of taxi companies and private car companies will approach you so there’s no shortage of ways to get into the city which was a good half hour drive away. We paid $10USD and at the time we thought that was very reasonable, in hind sight, I’m pretty sure we could have got it for at least half the price. Needless to say, bartering is not our strong point (watch this space).
Whether you are in a car or walking, the streets of Saigon are a learning curve. There are little to no road rules, red lights and pedestrian crossings are only guidelines and there is an intricate network of horn tooting signals that are also open for interpretation. Tip: Crossing the street at first is terrifying, stick close to locals or people who look like they know what they are doing to get the hang of it. Once you’re brave enough to tackle it yourself, look for a quiet(ish) area of traffic and just start walking at a steady pace. Don’t change speed! They are very good at judging your speed and will casually zoom right past you. Stopping or running is frowned upon and unnecessary.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of places to stop and have a cheap beer (we’re talking $1USD/beer, or 2 for $1 during Happy Hour) while you pull yourself back together before braving the traffic (and the heat) again.
We made our way to Bui Vein – a bustling tourist street where there is plenty if accommodation, bars, restaurants, street food, day spas – everything a tourist could ever need. We made good use of TripAdvisor while we sunk a few more beers on Bui Vein to find a place to stay. We found a nice place on the next street, about 20m from the end of Bui Vein for $20USD/night called the Elegant Inn. It was a great spot and tidy hotel. Tip: Be prepared to hear road noise from your hotel room. It’s a busy city and their tooting systems don’t stop. Neither does the rooster like animal somewhere nearby. Earplugs are key.
We are so glad to finally make it Vietnam. It’s been such a long time coming and we are loving every minute of it because Out there things can happen and frequently do!