May 21, 2016
On our last night in Vietnam, Freja and I decided we wanted to experience Ho Chi Minh how it was meant to be experienced – on the back of a moped! We found a highly rated tour service, Saigon Walking Tours, and reached out.
This was one of the best choices I made thus far. At 6pm, we are met by our two drivers – Ann and Elle. Ann and Elle are two local college students who won a competition in their marketing program and give the tours as part of that competition. It’s a way for them to practice their English and meet travelers. We couldn’t have asked for better guides.
We were taken to local food stands to try signature dishes of Vietnam, including Vietnamese pancakes, mango ‘shakes’, pork chops, and local tea. We started our night at a place called ‘Turtle Lake’, which consisted of walkways over a man made fountain that you claimed across to sit over the water.
We were brought to the post office and Notre Dame Cathedral, both influenced by the French colonization. Then, the real fun began. They took us to a local walking street, where artists and performers compete for tips. They have a beautiful fountain that dances on the hour, and the nicest hotel in Vietnam. I asked the girls if they’ve ever been in – which they haven’t. It took a lot less coercion then I expected, but I convinced them to sneak in with me under the guise of me wanting to make a reservation and they being my translators.
Next up, we got them to go up to the 54th floor of the tallest building in Vietnam, where we shared a drink while looking at the twinkling lights of the city. Elle had been up there once before, but it was Ann’s first expedition.
We completed the tour at the local night market, and then proceeded to have a ‘no, you say bye first’ moment before we went our separate ways.
Elle has been given the chance to come to Florida (Pensacola) to study at the University of West Florida. She’s a bit nervous, but I’m so happy she gets to have this experience!
The next morning, Freja and I sadly said our goodbyes. She was off on a river tour to Cambodia, and I was loading a flight to Greece. I do know that our paths will cross again, because this is a friendship I intend to keep! (Miss you already, Ashley! Xoxo, Helle).
Sadly, this is the end of my Asian adventures (for now) – my next post will be coming to you from my motherland, Greece!