Upon our arrival to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC)/Saigon, we found customs to be a breeze. This was the case as we obtained Vietnam Visas in advance while in the U.S. from a travel agency. If you’re in the market for one and are located in Southern California, visit Cali Travel & Services.
Personally, I find hot weather to be uncomfortable but if you’re Rich and grew up in Las Vegas, you’ll love Vietnam – just factor in the humidity. Probably wearing the same clothes from more than a day ago also puts one in the mood for a shower. Because our room was not available yet, we headed to the hotel’s café to enjoy a Cà Phê Sữa Đá (Vietnamese Iced Coffee) and Tiger Beer.
The view from the hotel’s café.
The first coffee of many!
Though we found the combination of beer and ice strange, the weight of the humidity added to the refreshing quality of the beer.
Home for the next six nights.
Once settled into the room, our first plan was to meet up with my Aunt Maika to get to know the city the way the locals do. She was kind enough to pick us up at the hotel and indulge my first food request; Bánh Xèo.
The Bánh Xèo was so crispy and delicious. They even brought out extra purple leaf (Tia To) for Rich because it’s his favorite.
I’ve never had Bánh Khọt like this before with the coconut milk filling. Simply divine.
Daily life in Saigon is all about scooters and relaxing.
And coffee, of course. You can’t walk one block without passing by multiple cafes. Here is one of the nicer shops in Saigon; Cafe RuNam
A specialty of Hanoi right here in the South… hot egg coffee.
This is a coconut cream coffee with just a hint of mint.
My aunt showed us around to the newly renovated buildings like this one that serves as a cafeteria-style eatery.
The famous walking street of Phố đi bộ Bùi Viện is filled with backpackers and expats.
As the night continued on, so did the crowd.
After food and coffee, Aunt Maika suggested we sit for a beer.
One beer turned into five, turned into this.
In Vietnamese culture, where there’s beer, there are snacks. Aunt Maika grabbed a street hustler to find and deliver dried squid (Khô Mực) right to our table.
Aunt Maika and me.
After five beers we needed something more than squid to help us get through jet lag and the continued drinking ahead. So Aunt Maika (who at this point in the night we’ve begun referring to as Boss Lady) has instructed our driver to pull over for Bánh Mì sandwiches at Huynh Hoa.
After our Bánh Mì stop, we met with our friend Zody at a rooftop bar. Unfortunately, we completely forgot to take photos on the rooftop. Fortunately, Aunt Maika didn’t let us forget at our last stop of the night; a total dive called TNR Saigon.
What a whirlwind first day in Saigon with friends and family. It was so nice of Zody and Aunt Maika to take time out of their schedules to meet up and show us around their city. Tomorrow we have been invited to Aunt Maika’s house for a home cooked Vietnamese meal with the family.