so long saigon

since leaving hue, we’ve been in a bit of a lackadaisical mode. we stopped off for a couple of days in nha trang, a seaside resort town on the southeast coast, for a little r & r on the way to ho chi minh city (saigon). it was fine for what it was – a little stretch of beach geared toward brits. lots of sun, western food, nightclubs and jetskis. now we’re in h.c.m.c. (though almost everyone still insists on calling it saigon) and a bit underwhelmed. it seems to be a big conglomeration of ridiculously overpriced western shops, 60s concrete crap, and backpacker cafes. unless you’re a real war-history buff, there’s not much in the way of sights, and we’re not big shoppers. i’m almost glad that it’s pouring out right now, so we have an excuse to hide out indoors, drinking beer, surfing the net, reading, and watching endless football. sometimes you need a vacation from your vacation.

but in a perverse way, i also really miss the challenge of a place like china. admittedly, it was downright hard at times, but it made for some really memorable and gratifying moments. it felt like those experiences were earned, dammit – and it made the funny spots that much funnier, the learned wisdom that much richer. for all the times when it was exhausting and chaotic and dirty, it was also startlingly beautiful and completely unique and immensely rewarding. there was never a time when you forgot you were in china – something that is sadly all too easy to do in places that have jumped on the tourism industry bandwagon. for example, i think it’s particularly telling that in the weeks we’ve been in vietnam, i have not even had to learn how to say “hello”, “goodbye”, “thank you” in vietnamese. as much as i’ve really loved this country, there has been very little which would force me to operate outside my comfort zone (except perhaps, crossing the street).

and really, that’s where all the best stuff happens.

so with that fixed firmly in mind, we’re off to cambodia tomorrow – a place where the book describes in-country travel as “part of the adventure” and the operating currency is the u.s. dollar, simply because no one has pockets big enough for the stacks and stacks of riel. i’ve wanted to visit cambodia for a few years now, and i’m tremendously excited to finally be going.

we’ll see what adventures await.

Comments are closed.

  • Photos