We had a little room booked in an alley off Bui Vien (the main backpacker district) at the charismatic Thahn Guesthouse. This positioned us pretty much right in the middle of the chaos that is Ho Chi Minh. Our first day in Saigon was spent riding to Cu Chi tunnels, we realised a little too late that we should have left in the morning, rather than 2pm (we had spent the morning trying to get a replacement hard drive for our computer). Never the less, we were on our way and 1 and a half hours later we found ourselves at the tunnels. It was great timing really, we walked straight in, paid our entrance fee and were invited by a local tour guide to join his group (or his family as he liked to call it). After we walked around and our new BFF gave us some history lessons, Justin crawled through the tunnel and came out on the other side much dirtier than he had entered. I on the other hand, chickened out of the hands on experience. Over the duration of our tour (which took longer than anticipated) we were noticing a dark cloud starting to take over the beautiful sky above.
We said thank you to our guide and left a little earlier so we could jump on our bike and try to beat the rain. Which of course, we did not. We got about 20 minutes down the road when it started raining. Much to our surprise a local pulled over next to us, got out her poncho and offered it to us, the start of many kind gestures made by the Vietnamese. We ended up denying her offer (seeing as she would have drove off in the rain without one) and bought 2 from the side of the road. Once we put on our giant condoms we drove off into the city. As we headed back into HCM, we were expecting our ride to take us about the same time – 1 1/2hours, however, we had miss-judged how thick the traffic was about to become. It was the night of Halloween and boy do the Vietnamese take it seriously. Instead of seeing a road ahead of us, it had become a sea of motorbikes. Our 90-minute ride took a whopping 3 and a half hours.
Once we made it back to Thanh Guesthouse we showered and then met up with our friend Trevor (who is now an expat in HCM) for the night and headed out to a couple of bars for Halloween. Once we got back to Bui Vien (many beers later) we realised the chaos of holidays in HCM City. Our street was full, and I mean so full you couldn’t move, of people celebrating dressed in ripped outfits and painted with fake blood.
The following day we headed out to Trevors Paintball field – Siagon Paintball – and ordered ourselves the best Sunday roast we have ever had, seriously, his food out there is pretty damn good.
Most of our days from here on out were spent catching up with Trevor and organizing our purchase of a Motorbike from him. Trevor took us to his friend Ben who owns HCMC Motorbikes and sorted our bike out with some bag racks and bits and pieces that we would need for our journey up to Hanoi. The day before we left, Ben took us on a bike lesson (a good idea seeing as we were about to undertake a few thousand kilometer bike ride and had no idea how to ride a manual bike) about 2 hours into our lesson, in true SE Asian style, the skies opened and let down a ripper storm, which subsequently turned Bui Vien Street into Bui Vien River. After a long day of riding and running around in the rain we went to Rose Spa for the best massages we have had in SE Asia (yeah, that’s saying something) located just off Bui Vien on 133 Alley way, you must go there!
I better go, I’m in a bit of a slumber after my massage and really don’t know how much more I can type.