Saigon Day 1

Continued from Phnom Penh Day 2.

Woke up to 6am to finish packing and getting ready. Ugh, it’s so early. Our bus will pick us up at around 7:30am.

All day yesterday, my stomach has been acting up. By the night time, it’s gotten worse. Shit! No pun intended. I will be stuck in a long bus ride all day today…I hope things hold together…The crappy parts about traveling in foreign countries with less than stellar food standards, stomach problems.

Saw this giant moth outside our door this morning. Shoe for size reference.

One of the first ones down here for breakfast.

I’m just going to eat half of that. Less goes in, potentially less comes out. TMI?

Our minibus picked us up at around 7:45am. We were the very first pick up. Why can’t we be a later pick up so we can sleep in more??

They had overbooked our minibus. We ended up with 14 passengers when there is only really room for 12. The luggage attendant had to sit on the floor.

That was one cramped ride.

Get our luggage tagged, and let’s go.

We are taking this ride also with Mekong Express. This bus is nicer, and the staff on this bus are way nicer than the bus trip from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. I guess since this is an international route, they probably care more about this route for their reputation. On this bus, there are probably 2/3 foreign tourists and 1/3 Vietnamese or Cambodians.

Wifi works again, but barely.

French colonialism influence.

The road from Phnom Penh to Saigon is actually pretty good. Nothing really to complain about in that department.

For the first couple of months when this song came out, I must have been hiding under a rock because I did not hear it. RL told me that even my mother in law knew this song before me. Well, apparently most of Cambodia knew about it too because I hear this song playing nonstop on Cambodian radio stations.

One of the competing bus companies. This one is supposed to be pretty good actually.

Reached a ferry crossing.

I may be a beat up old bike, but I’ve got disc brakes, yo.

Crossing the Mekong River. It only took a few short minutes.

We stopped at another nondescript restaurant at the midway point right before crossing into Vietnam. Saw this cute dog here. I miss my dog.

The nondescript restaurant.

A casino at the Cambodia border. It looked so out of place.

The Cambodia exit. This border crossing is very well organized and a breeze. We went up to the window, got our stamp and got back on the bus. No hassle, no bribes.

Our superstar bus attendant picking up all of our passports after we got our Cambodia exit stamp. When we go to Vietnam immigration, she will go up to the window and get stamps for all the passengers. How awesome is that!

Cambodia says goodbye.

We drove for about 15 seconds, and showed up at the Vietnam immigration building.

While we waited for our bus attendant to get our entry stamps, I noticed bags and bags of passports just piled on the ground in the waiting area, unattended…I am guessing it’s from tour groups. I could have so easily taken a bag. This is scary, for them.

Our bus attendant called out our names as each passport got stamped. Then we got our bags scanned through customs and now we are in Vietnam. This is the way border crossings should be–straightforward and scam free!

Now into Vietnam.

Vietnam is much more developed than Cambodia. Along the entire highway, there are buildings and vendors.

Rest stop?

In the outskirts of Saigon, aka Ho Chi Minh City.

Lots of mopeds here. I think there are maybe even more mopeds here than in Taiwan.

Much much more development here.

Them storm clouds.

Selling puppies. I also saw a couple of mopeds with several grown dogs inside the crates in the back…I hope it’s not for food…

Reunification Palace.

Ben Thanh Market.

Got dropped off! Sweet, out of the bus!! Got picked up by the minibus in Phnom Penh a little before 8am and got dropped off here in Saigon at around 3:30pm. That’s another long tiring traveling day, but it was very low stress due to the easy border crossing.

Our hotel is only supposed to be a short walk from where the bus dropped us off.

There is a nice park that this whole area centers around.

Bitexco Tower in the distance. There’s an observation deck over there that I’d like to visit.

Our hotel is supposedly inside this small alley. I hope we are right.

Found! That wasn’t too bad at all. Maybe 5 minutes walk.

This is what $36 a night gets you in a pretty good location in Saigon. It’s a very small room with no windows. But, look at those white walls and the small size, it’ll be so easy to kill mosquitoes in here!!! With that said, we don’t think bugs will be a problem here in this big city.

We were both afraid of eating lunch at the questionable restaurant at the midway point, so we didn’t really have lunch. My stomach still isn’t 100%, but I am starving so I am going to eat eat eat.

A short walk from our hotel. What better thing to eat for our first meal in Vietnam than some PHO!!!

It’s in the middle of the afternoon, so not too many guests.

You see those red peppers? There are also some yellow peppers hiding under the limes. OMG, they were some of the hottest peppers I’ve ever had!!! BURN!!!

YUM!!! So good!! I could eat this everyday. Pho in Vietnam!!! So happy.

Went to the convenience store after to stock up on water and saw this.

Back to hotel to rest some until dinner. We also started seeing middle aged white male sex tourists here again. There are also generally a lot of middle aged white male expats who live here.

Got this bun at the convenience store, yum.

I am not joking when I said those peppers are some of the hottest I’ve ever had. I had picked up a couple of slices of pepper with my hand to throw into my soup, then using those same finger scratched my arm here. For the next hour, my arm had burning pain sensation and the area I touched became inflamed! Now I know better then to pick up those things with my fingers.

Then something crappy happened. My laptop was having problems charging. It wouldn’t charge…Shit!! We had to go out in search of an Apple store to either buy another power brick or troubleshoot. The problem is that Vietnam does not have any official Apple vendors…

Walking by the park on the way to many different grey market Apple stores.

People using the exercise machines here in the park. That’s great and all, but there is no resistance.

OK, found a potential place to fix. I tried their charger, but my laptop still wouldn’t charge. Shit!! They don’t do repairs here.

Walked another few minutes and found another potential place for repairs.

All places say Authorized Reseller, but none of them are actual authorized. We tried the charger for this place, and magically, my laptop started charging again. Then we tried my charger, and it’s charging as well…WTF…I guess that was the easiest solution, for things to randomly fix itself. This was very stressful for me.

Back to our hotel after tiring bus ride and stressful computer problems.

We also walked by this other Apple repair shop that the other store recommended. The metal gates are closing literally as we walked by.

Mangosteens! A lady was selling these in the alley in front of our hotel. We finally got some mangosteens! Yes. They turned out to be delicious!!!

After that computer episode, we needed a drink. We went out in search of some food and alcohol.

Ended up at this little dive bar right across from our hotel.

Only one other customer here when we got in.

Huda, brewed in Hue, Vietnam.

RL takes eating her fries very seriously.

We got to Vietnam, the laptop didn’t break, and so far no bugs. All great things. We both have a feeling that we’ll be feeling at home here in Saigon.

To be continued at Saigon Day 2.

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