• Tara B. Vasi

Day 9: Homestay, Cross Border into Vietnam, #hotsoup

We wake up to the rooster alarm clock. My bug net saved me from many bugs during the night, but once I exited the sleeping area, the bugs woke up too and started swarming throughout the room. Our host prepared us all breakfast, fried rice with egg wrapped in leaves so we could take it away.

We were on the bus and on the bumpy road before the sun started to come up.

We traveled for four hours to the Vietnam border. Everyone smells like feet. I slept for a few hours using my amazing travel pillow. We all gave Sochea our passports and print outs of our Vietnam Visas. We were told the border crossing would take over an hour but we were across and at our new bus within a half hour.

We drove for a few hours through rural Vietnam and noticed many similarities to Cambodia. Stray dogs, heaps of litter, people selling fruit. When we started to get closer to the city, the traffic picked up and we understood now what everyone kept saying about the motor bike traffic and as a large bus we didn’t have much leverage to move around. The motorbikes moved as a pack and at the same speed, which was different from Phnom Pehm where everyone zigged and zagged on their own accord.

Theres a river that runs through the city, or was, but it has dried up and has since been filled with trash and looks more like the dirty area under a bridge, but without the bridge. There are benches facing the “river” and people sat looking out at it, like it was the Seine running through Paris.

There are 15 million residents in Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam is the second largest exporter of coffee in the world. The first is Brazil. I was excited about having some good coffee!

There other main exports are rice and clothing.

The hostel is located down an alley way behind a market, so the bus parks as close to the hostel as possible. We try to unload without getting clipped by motorbikes who lay on their horns for us to move out of the way. There is an overwhelming rancid smell of garbage and at this point, I can’t tell if its actual rubbish or the fruit, Durian. We get to our hostel and are assigned bunks. I share with Bryony and Jennifer in a four person room. There is not much room to move around, but for $6 a night, the lack of space seemed reasonable.

My belongings seem to be disappearing and I realize that the side pocket of my new duffel bag is not actually a pocket.

None of us have showered since the Island of Koh Rong so take turns enjoying the splendid water pressure in our bath. I shave my legs for the first time in a week.

We walk around a bit try to take it all in.

I FaceTime with my mom and my sister.

Sochea meets with the six new people joining out group and we prepare to say goodbye to Louu, Joe, Benn, Lou, James, and Shelly.

We all go to dinner. I order PHO, in VIETNAM. I LOVE HOT SOUP! The server was wearing flip flops.

They offer a happy hour drink special, buy two get three, so everyone indulges in espresso martinis, mojitos, and concoctions that come in coconuts with umbrellas. I indulge in a can of Sprite. The four original boys share a beer tower. Three new boys that are traveling together from London order steins of beer three at a time. We have two new girls who are very sweet, Olivia and Govina. Who are from Australia and London I think, and left half way through dinner because they needed rest.

I sit with by the people I have connected the most with Bryony, Louu , and Joe, and we talk about our future travel plans. Louu and Joe are from London if I haven’t mention that yet. They are breaking away from the group and traveling for a year all over the world. They will travel Vietnam and then in a month they are going to an Orangutan sanctuary in Indonesia to volunteer for two weeks.

They said they haven’t met many Americans that they like. I said, Neither have I, and we laughed and we laughed and we laughed.

We exchanged information so that we can stay friends forever.


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