Yes, I'm jumping for joy because I'm in Vietnam! Only I could decide to visit a country based on the fact that I love the food and wanted to eat as much of it as possible. Thankfully when I started to do a little more research about all of the other things that make a nation tick, I realised that I was in for an exciting and varied few weeks. The first stop was Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon as it's formerly known, a busy metropolis where crossing the road is an art form (the key is to walk out slowly with confidence or attach yourself to a random local) and the streets are a hive of activity. Left to our own devices, we stumbled across a bustling indoor market, a palace that looked more like a conference centre and almost ended up paying £15 for coconut water due to being confused by the currency. Within the safety of the tour bus we took a trip to the Mekong Delta, visiting islands with snakes, bees and delightful Coconut Candy that I wished I'd brought back with me.
Sandals - Next
Giraffe Necklace - Forever 21
Explaining to people you've just met that you write this thing on the Internet called a blog, which involves the odd bit of prancing about and taking photos of said prancing, is always a bit nerve-wracking. Fortunately I'd befriended an understanding group of people and was determined to get some decent photos in such a distinctive location. When travelling most of the fashion rules go out the window due to the intense heat and most of the time I kept things incredibly simple due to the lack of choice. I brought this matching top and shorts set with me because the weather in England was doubtful when I left and I hate seeing items from my Summer wardrobe just languishing and rarely being worn. I definitely justified bringing them along, wearing them together for the full-on camouflage effect and also as separates with skirts, shorts and plain t-shirts. The busy print was perfect for hiding the lack of ironing and any rogue chilli sauce stains. It was the outfit I was the most excited to wear and I'll always associate it with snakes, water puppets and hot climes!
It was only in Ho Chi Minh where my shopping gene really kicked into gear and I started to buy souvenir t-shirts, fridge magnets and all sorts of things to weigh my backpack down. The service stations here put the likes of Welcome Break to shame, with fresh juice, traditional crafts and occasionally artisans at work providing a useful insight into how such things are made. My excessive photo-taking meant that I ended up being late back on the tour bus and tutted at by some of the more sensible tourists. I almost felt like a child again! I was sad to leave a lot of these things behind but hope to return one day and collect some things for my treasure trove of a future home.
After a few days on the tourist trail, it was a relief to head off the beaten track to Thị trấn Ba Cây Chổi, a vaguely Harry Potter/Peter Pan themed world in the seventh district. You can eat in the restaurant, craft some wooden houses, hire the cinema for a private party or simply just chill in the reading room whilst drinking some Polyjuice Potion (or blueberry juice as it is more commonly known). Although I was the only non-Vietnamese person there, I was treated to a quick tour by the friendly staff and invited to bake some cupcakes, which was perfect for the long bus journey the next day. A definite must-see if you want to try something a little different and indulge your inner eight-year-old halfway across the world. That day was also the first time I'd braved one of the motorbike taxis, after vowing never to take one. Cars are definitely outnumbered here and I soon realised that the cheapest way to get around was to hop on the back of a bike and hold on tight! Being amongst the unforgiving yet somehow functional traffic system soon became second nature and the perfect way to really experience the city.