[Greetings from Saigon]
After three and a half months on the road I’m happy to report that I’m back in Ho Chi Minh City.
I left at the end of March this year to begin a trip that would take me around Asia, Europe, and North and Central America. This trip included meet ups with family and friends, a writing assignment in Europe, and a travel blog conference in Toronto. After Canada and the US I travelled to Belize, which was my first time to Central America.
I had flown into Belize with a grand plan of making my way through all seven countries of Central America. While part of that trip was intended to investigate places to live, I questioned if I was going just to tick off more countries on the places I’ve been list.
After reading some online guides of things to do in Central America I realised that I don’t want to visit every Mayan ruin and see every little beach town, just for the sake of going. Instead, I picked out Caye Caulker in Belize and Lake Atitlan in Guatemala as places to linger on my trip (and at the rate I blog I will probably have a report on those places by the end of the year). That worked out to be a far more enjoyable experience than bouncing around from place to place on chicken buses.
While I still would love to do that (man, Nicaragua calls out to me), at the moment I’m not the headspace to do such a trip. I’m in the mood to work and collaborate rather than travel for the sake of travel, and right now my collaborators are in Saigon.
Going back to places
I was wondering if I had made the right decision to come back to Vietnam after having already spent five months of the last year here. The day I was returning I read Andrew Evans post on why he goes back to places he has already been. Not that I needed affirmation on my decision, but this article resonated with me at exactly the right time. I don’t like it when I hear that someone has “done a place” either, and at this point in my life I’m getting so much joy out of being in Vietnam. As soon as I set foot outside of the airport I knew I was back in the right place. I would rather be spending my time here than adding more countries to my visited list, just for the sake of visiting.
The Scene in Saigon
On my first day back I found a great room to rent for $230USD per month. This includes internet, and cleaning and laundry three days a week. I’ve been revisiting my favourite cafes and street food vendors, and getting friendly welcome back smiles at my most visited places.
[My apartment entrance is also a morning fruit stand. How could you not buy fruit from this lady!]
The year ahead
While I am renting a place here my travels will be one or two week trips rather than months on end. I will be doing some local travel, as well as making a trip to Hanoi. I would like to compare what it is like living in Vietnam’s two largest cities (plus I want to try egg coffee, a specialty in Hanoi).
Once my initial three month visa expires I will be back in Thailand for a month, where I’ll be attending a conference in Bangkok. After that I have a month to spare before I go back to Australia, which will be the first time in over a year.