Motos, Markets, More Motos, and Food poisoning
Ho Chi Minh City Travel Blog› entry 71 of 98 › view all entries
6/10/10 This morning Craig and I woke up entirely too early for our bus from Battambang to Phnom Penh, then finally onto HoChiMinh, Vietnam. The entire way I was incredibly excited to get to Vietnam-I think it's pictures of Halong Bay that I've seen that mostly have me so excited, though after being in Cambodia for a few weeks with so many incredibly friendly people, Vietnam might be a bit of a shock, or so I've been warned. I've heard mixed reports from others that have already been here, some saying that the Vietnamese think Westerners are fairly stupid and that they can often be rude or try to rip you off in any way possible, while being incredibly pushy, and others say that they met really nice Vietnamese.
I'm saving my judgment until I get there, but even so, I want to make sure I don't generalize; it bothers me enough when people generalize about Americans! The bus to Phnom Penh was pretty comfortable, with almost too fantastic A/C, while the bus after 2 hours of waiting in Phnom Penh was less of a comfortable ride. Craig and I were both pretty tired, and I think we ate some bad food for lunch at Phnom Penh, so I'm crossing my fingers that I feel okay tomorrow. The border crossing was interesting with an entire strip of casinos. The size and frenzy of this city just blew me away when we rode into town. From the first sign showing that we'd arrived in the right city, to when we were actually dropped off in a seemingly random place, it seemed about 45 minutes going through the city.
On first impression, Vietnam seems more Westernized than Cambodia did, which should be interesting. People call New York the "City that never sleeps," but I think this Vietnamese city could rival that. The streets are filled with smells and noise and constant movement, and just becaus eit's nearing the middle of the night, doesn't mean that the markets are closed by any means. We ended up getting a taxi to the road where many of the recommended guesthouses are, finally settling on one simply called "The Hotel," even though there might have been one or two slightly cheaper, the $10 a night seemed like enough of a bargain and all I wanted to do was get my bag off my back.
6/11/10 Craig and I both felt absolutely terrible today, he feeling even worse than I and even shaking at some point-must have been the lunch we had yesterday. It's hard knowing over here if food has been properly refrigerated or prepared. Back home we have so many rules and regulations for health and safety that are just unheard of over here, or simply not inforced. Neither of us budged from bed until he looked at his watch and realized that it was already five in the afternoon, at which point I was feeling a bit better and decided to head out and see the city for a bit before it got dark. We headed out and picked up a simple map from a tour agency and found our way to the large indoor market, passing a frenszy of people just beginning to set up their night market stalls.
Everywhere you look, there's crates being unloaded and motorbikes precariously balancing objects that we would use a truck at home to transport. It still boggles my mind that they do with a little moto what we do with a decent sized car. Why an expensive car when your moto can fit a family of four? The market was hot and sweaty and I could feel myself feeling weak, probably partly due to my lack of eating for the day since I hadn't had the appetite with the way I was feeling. Finally finding a decent pair of jean shorts so I don't have to wear all my t-shirts with the same black skirt every day, I was able to haggle them down from $20 to $10, which was probably still too much to pay, especially considering that the lady had accidentally cut my thumb and made me bleed with her little sharp sewing scissors when she cut the button hole open on the shorts for me to try on. I couldn't be bothered to find another pair of shorts anywhere else if we didn't come to an agreement on price, and I'm glad I have something now.
On the way back to the hotel we got a bit lost, but finally found our way with the help of our little map and a few landmarks. The one hard thing about landmarks around here though, is that almost everything seems to look the same. 'We're staying by the Western Union and the shop selling silk scarves with pork buns in front...' could easily be said about many, many blocks in the city. We were stopped a few times by people trying to sell us random books and accessories on the street, but it wasn't nearly as bad as Cambodia was-let's hope it stays that way! Off to bed with a prayer that I feel better tomorrow, since the plan is renting a motorcycle to explore the Mekong Delta and the floating markets for a few days!