i spent 3 days in ho chi minh city, wandering it’s streets, sampling it’s food and drinking in it’s energy. i’ve always believed that walking around a city is the best way to start to understand it, and i thought this one would be no different; only this isn’t a city of walkers, this is a city of bikes. turns out it isn’t just ho chi minh; vietnam is a country of bikes, i should have read the guide book.
as a result, crossing the road for the first time as a westerner, i found myself hesitating, heading out into the road, then quickly turning back to the safety of the pavement as a horn blared out warning me to move; fast.
however, after a day of feeling constantly nervous as soon as i saw a road, i’d soon got the hang of it; you head out into the road and the bikes move around you, it’s like a dance and things I had never noticed whilst fearful of my life started to become clearer as I gained confidence - a hand indicating here, a warning shout there. with understanding comes a certain glee as well - no longer did I feel like such an outsider, I started to relax.
that’s the thing i love about travel, that moment when you finally hit your stride, you know how to order a pho, and you know how to pronounce it properly - you’re able to give advice to other travellers who are headed to places you’ve already been and you know when someone is trying to rip you off. that was not how i felt on my first day in ho chi minh, but it was early days, and as i wandered around the streets of the city for the next few days, heading to markets, sitting on chairs i wouldn’t have fitted on as an 8 year old, let alone a 25 year old and picking dubious looking meat out of various noodle soups, i could tell i liked it. vietnam was starting to get to me and i couldn’t wait to explore the rest of the country.