Where I’m At: Saigon – August 2016

Where I’m At: Saigon – August 2016

Where I’m At; a monthly update of what I’ve been up to, site news, and where I’m going next.

Where I’ve Been

Ho Chi Minh City

The month began in Saigon, where I stayed to work and physically recover from my back injury. The good news is that I am mostly functional now. I can walk around to my usual places without discomfort, and the big test was being able to sit in a movie without any pain. I was going to do a side trip out of the city but I figured I should take it easy for the month.

One thing that has come out of this is that my style of travel will have to change. I will no longer be able to carry bags on my back for prolonged periods. I have long given up on being a backpacker anyway, with my main bag being a wheeled backpack. It’s my day bag that I will have to put new thought into. I usually lug a day bag around with my laptop, camera gear, water bottle, and other items. For going to cafes I am just taking my laptop now (which is a lightweight Macbook Air), and when I go on my next trip I will have to place my bag on top of the wheelie bag.

Now that I am walking around again it feels like a dozen cafes closed and opened in the space of a month. I’ve enjoyed visiting the new “Saigon Cafe”, and I will update my cafes list this month.

Another new cafe in Saigon. This one is at the start of Dong Khoi by the river, and is open 24 hours.

A photo posted by James Clark ✈️ (@nomadicnotes) on

Another thing that opened last month was a new mall. Not really news anywhere else, but for the rapidly developing Saigon it was a notable event. The Saigon Centre – as the mall is known – includes a Takashimaya department store from Japan and a bunch of other brands previously not seen in Vietnam.

I meet a friend for coffee every Saturday morning, which happens to be opposite where the new mall is. Out of curiosity we watched the opening ceremony, and next thing you know we were among the first five customers through the doors. As we entered we were greeted by a tunnel of media filming the event, so I suspect we were all over the news that night.

Takashimaya ribbon cutting

Travel plans

My three-month visa expires this month so I will go to Bangkok for an undetermined amount of time.

Travel books I’ve read

A Cook’s Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal

A Cook's Tour: In Search of the Perfect MealAfter Anthony Bourdain found success with Kitchen Confidential he went on this road trip to find the perfect meal. He mentions at the start that he “sold out” and let the publisher make a TV series out of it, so his travels are accompanied with a film crew. I had never watched his shows so it was good to read this then watch A Cook’s Tour online. This was written around 2000 and includes his first visit to Vietnam, which he falls for immediately.

For more reading ideas see my top 200 travel books list.

ICYMI – Last months posts

This is not a linear travel blog so stories and guides are published in different order to my travels. My blog draft folder is filled with potential posts spanning over a year, which I am working through now.

App review: Vimeo Cameo – edit videos, add music, and upload from your phone – I occasionally review travel apps, and I found this app useful for video editing.

Tour review: Cape Peninsula day tour from Cape Town – Includes penguins, ostriches, and not quite the most southerly point in Africa.

Motorbike taxi comparison in Saigon (Xe Om, UberMOTO, GrabBike) – While I was recovering from my back injury I was getting around with motorbike taxi’s, so I compared the different services available.

1 month Eurail Global Pass review – How I visited 57 cities in 31 days – From my one month trip around Europe a year ago. I did say it was a non-linear blog.

Other sites

Top expert travel tips for planning your Eurotrip – Speaking of Europe, I contributed some Euro travel tips for GoEuro.

Travel Blogger News: August 2016 – A round up of articles about the travel blogging world.

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  1. Nice update, James! Would you be able to use a traditional messenger bag (possibly one that could be carried like a briefcase) instead of a larger bag on your back? I used to carry a small bag this way, and I only had one dude on a motorcycle try to snatch it from me in HCMC. 😉

    • Thanks Andrew! I am learning towards a messenger bag that can be carried as a briefcase. At the moment I am using a small day bag and have been carrying it like a messenger bag, so a proper one would look more elegant. And one that can be carried like a briefcase would be useful for when I am not in bag-snatchy environments 🙂

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