I decided to meet a longtime friend on a whimsy – Halfway in Asia.
Bought an air ticket and left my country with no real plans except a vague idea of what i would want to see after a quick google on Ho Chi Minh (Saigon).
There have been many first times in my travel to Vietnam. That being the First visit to a New Country, First meeting with a longtime friend of a decade, backpacker style, exploring places searching for gems on a scooter, my first time on a sleeper bus! I remember wondering about the country when i was younger, thinking when I would ever find the opportunity to visit. Language was a barrier, the indirect fear when topics like safety lingers.. Yet, that tinge of excitement I felt when I have finally arrived. At the airport looking for that one familiar face I know for a long time in 2D. And then the person in 3D – and a big hug.
It only hit me in disbelief whilst on the way to the hotel. What a moment. FINALLY.The amusement I feel when people out of curiousity asks us how we met being from two different countries – and then surprise. I guess it is never easy to maintain a friendship via the internet for a decade or so without ever meeting. I am glad because in a few days I had a mish mash of two cultures, China and Vietnam.
Architecture and the daily life on the local streets had much to see and feel. Whether because I relate to forgotten similiar habits, sight and smells. Or the very fact that i am finally in this country seeing the triangular straw hats, eating the food I had missed since Bangkok.. My very first rice wrap and Banh Xeo was in Thailand, I have never forgotten how simple yet tasty it was. Or amusing to be eating weird ‘plants’. We did none of the overtly touristy activities – I was glad about this in the end. But to venture out and soak up what was around. There is much for me to readup about Vietnam and it’s history and architecture after this. Although i did a quick research on what I would like to sea and did – even much more.
FOOD WAS ALWAYS GOOD! This was one country that have not failed in any type of food I have tried yet. Maybe i was lucky. Other than the touting in Ben Thanh (Felt like a tourist trap there with prices even food) and the drivers of any types trying to get some business from you. I don’t feel the negativity of crime too much no had the traffic actually put me off at all. The roads are wide and the vehicles have an amazing way to shun you. For a day i did feel I was transported momentarily back in time. The weather was great, rain definitely comes in short bouts because of the wind it goes away after abit too. The pace is relaxed not lazy. Good vibes so far.
Arriving at 6am back in Saigon, I had the opportunity to witness the morning activities Sunday morning at the 23/9 Park. Elderly people who would beat your yoga stance hands down, seriously. So many sporting event happening in one small spot: Taichi Ladies, Kungfu practicing mixs, guys playing capteh (IN VIETNAM!!), father and daughter badminton.
Whilst I chow down my Mui Ne ‘ta-bao-ed’ breakfast of Banh Mi sandwich.
Lush spread of; Seasoned pork belly (Chewy goodness), Vietnamese sausage, Liver pâté, Pork floss, Cucumber slices, Pardsly and Pickled carrots and Radish in shredded form and Sliced Chillis for added Oomph!
Lastly having found a chinese temple that blew my mind with the intricacy in design details competent to the Peranakans. All that colour and artwork. The smell of incense from the triangular coils. Smoke whifting as I stare up at one ceiling after another. It very much reminded me of Catherin Lim’s collections in “Or Else, The Lightning God”. Mysterious, mythical yet fascinating. Love it.
I love every aspect of the structure’s intricacy and detailing in artwork. All that vibrant colours.
Oh yes, and an art gallery in District 1 that attracted me with the quality of artwork. I found a Viet artist I like – Phuong. With his use of vibrant colours and gentle strokes. Calming almost like Monet’s Siene River. Very happy about this.