Vietnam: 8 days, 3 cities, 16 pictures and videos.

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I forgot the name, but this is one of my hosts’s preferred food if she could eat one dish for the rest of her life. Delicious. For some reason I only took one picture of food the entire trip. This is surprising, because Vietnamese food is some of the best out there… though not the most sanitary. While you think rinsing spoons and bowls in the river, or wiping off chopsticks with a napkin would be a suitable way to clean your dishes, I think I may have brought some unpleasant bacteria back with me.

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You don’t even have to hit up a restaurant for some delicious dishes, deserts, or drinks. It’s easy to find a street vendor selling what you want, and two people can eat for a little over a dollar.

The motorcycle traffic is nearly as memorable as the food. Motorbikes outnumber cars, pedestrians, and bicycles by some large number to some considerably smaller number. It’s common to find four people on one bike, or people carrying things you never thought could be transported on a bike. Unfortunately I’m lacking photographic proof. Crossing the street then becomes a test of nerves. The method is to simply walk across, slowly but surely, without changing pace or direction. Ideally, the traffic moves around you. Nerve-wracking, but you feel like a champion afterwards!

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Being in Seoul, I miss green spaces. None of the cities I visited disappoint. Even bustling Ho Chi Minh City has plenty of parks like this all over.

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If they’re not trying to steal from you or sell you something, people here are super friendly. These university students stopped me to ask if they could practice their English with me. Afterwards they gave me that stylish red scarf (or something), and homemade “Saigon Safety Tips” pamphlet.

Another part of Vietnam that’s hard to miss in Ho Chi Minh City is it’s history with the Vietnam War (American War, if you’re in Vietnam). I learned quite a bit with some surprisingly balanced exhibits at the War Remnants Museum, as well as a tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels.

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More friendly people. In Ben Tre I stayed with a family, and the mother invited me to join them for their walking and badminton in the morning. 5:30am. Every morning.

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The daughter of the family let me borrow her bike while she was at work. Biking through small neighborhoods along the canals was one of the best parts of my whole trip.

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The heart of the canals, seen from a bridge I biked over.

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The next day I moved on to Can Tho. A few hours away from HCMC, this city is known large for it’s abundance of floating markets, where all the sales are made from boats.

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Can Tho, with HCMC, also has southern Vietnam’s two large universities. Any good college town should have live music, so I was able to see my host play drums with a band he was sitting with at a coffee house. Flashbacks to high school.

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Then they asked me to take a turn.

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You can see the small houses in the background of this picture. This floating village is just outside of Long Xuyen, the final city on my stop.

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Long Xuyen is also home to a large crocodile farm. They’re pretty cute and snuggly when they’re asleep, right?

2013-08-14.14My favorite way to enjoy Vietnam was like this: relaxing/napping in a hammock, sugar cane juice in hand, enjoying the weather. From this mountain in Chau Doc, you can actually see the Cambodian border.

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Packing was tight, and aside from pictures and some coconut candy from Ben Tre (which I’m pretty sure I can’t eat with my braces), I didn’t bring anything back. If possible, I would have loved to get one of these cars, airplanes, baseball caps, tanks, etc. made from recycled cans. For just over $3, it’s hard to resist!

 

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