Being eternally single couchsurfing has helped me embrace travel to the fullest. In fact I actually relish the solo adventures over travelling with others nowadays. If I was in a relationship instead of booking that return sale ticket to vietnam I would have had to call him/her check that they were able to get the time off wait around than finally book it and see what my partner wanted to do. Ugh...headache. Also if they couldn't come how ok would they be with me jetsetting across the globe staying on some strangers couch and having drunken adventures with interesting people around the world.
Anyway so I booked return tickets to vietnam for $150. I gave up beer for two weeks and that was my trip paid for. Mum brought me scuba diving lessons for my 30th birthday and was good to go. I had my Cs hosts organised and I couldn't wait, yea I was slightly apprehensive it was my first time in Vietnam but I couldn't wait for the experience, the food, the cheap beer.
Ho Chi Minh was as alot of people put it slightly disappointing for me. But I don't like cities, I don't like the pushy people, the noise.If anything though its one of the cleanest 3rd world countries I have ever been to but its depressing. This is a country decimated by war and poverty. There is a desperation on people's faces that makes me uncomfortable and yes they got a bit of money out of my pocket. voluntarily but still.
My host in vietnam was an ex-pat from Europe working as a maths teacher. I didn't see much of him, I was only there one day and I spent most of it wandering the city. He worked a lot and Saturday I headed off to Nha Trang. Friday night I drank some beer with him and his flatmate and irish guy also working as a teacher. I went out with the Irish guy and a vietnamese girl the bars were quiet, where does everyone go on a Friday night? But drank a lot of beer and talked a lot.
Nha Trang on the other hand was more my style. A cosy little beach town it had its fair share of pushy street vendors but otherwise it was hip, clean & entertaining. If you could ignore the obvious tourist spots there were some great little hole in the wall eating spots. Did I mention how amazing vietnamese food is! To get a beer & feed for under $2.00 is my kind of town.
My host was also my diving instructor and he was a really friendly guy from Texas/Hawaii. He took me around we chatted and saw a bit of the town. Diving was on the other hand the most amazing thing I ever did. Cross that SHIT off my bucket list! I was so nervous about the unnatural feeling of being trapped underwater but after a few tries it soon became comfortable and I was at such a peace surrounded by this beauty well...
One of the dive assistants on the boat with me was an energetic German guy with a geeky dark secret and we got talking about video games so later that night (after a nap of course!) we went off to a Internet Gaming Cafe which cost 6000 Dong an hour (about 25cents) and all the tea you could drink. After that we went out to a little pub and I drank some beer and he drank some OJ which ended up costing more than my beer... HAH, I LOVE vietnam :D
Its funny but as an obvious westerner in Asia you have to be prepared for the stares. The locals stare at you because your different and the westerners stare at you for the same reasons. So spend that extra 10 minutes looking good as people will stare at you all day!
Sadly as my time was coming to an end I flew off into the sunset and back home to Darwin. It was a redeye but I luckily got three seats to myself and curled up and slept comfortably. Customs stole some of my coffee but i could handle that, I'd rather my country was safe from pests than me have that extra cup of vietnamese coffee!
I loved Vietnam but i wish I'd spent more time in Nha Trang than Ho Chi Minh. Anyway I am now SSI Open water certified, watch out Ariel.