Where I’m At: Saigon – July 2016

Where I'm At: Saigon - July 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

It hasn’t been the best month for me. I started June in Saigon and got back into my regular routine of working in cafes and exploring markets and alleys in districts beyond district 1. I still enjoy having Saigon as a base for when I’m not travelling, and it is always a joy to come back and meet friends and eat my favourite food.

A photo posted by James Clark (@nomadicnotes) on

While I am here on a three month visa I want to visit somewhere new once a month. I booked a domestic flight, and then I was offered to attend a festival in Japan which would have been at the same time. No sooner had I made my new travel arrangements I then put my back out of place (again!)

I was hopeful of making a recovery in time but I knew it wasn’t going to happen so I had to cancel the trip. I didn’t leave my house for a week and I was barely able to walk, let alone do any long haul flying.

Fortunately I was in a city where I know people and a friend could look after me. I shudder to think if this had happened while I was in South Africa last month, or another place where I don’t know anyone.

I had daily food delivery, and I live above a pho shop which serves breakfast and lunch. It’s good pho and I haven’t got sick of my almost daily bowl yet.

It sucks to be sick anytime, but while scrolling through Instagram one day when I saw this post.

A photo posted by Tim Ferriss (@timferriss) on

I do try an practice an attitude of gratitude whenever possible. My lot in life is pretty good when compared with the troubles of the world. I was grateful to be looked after when I could barely get up, and to still be able to work incapacitated. Working on my sick bed is not quite the #digitalnomadlife of working by a pool or other such cliche, but being self sufficient is a good life goal.

One thing I found out was that I am not addicted to coffee. I usually have 3-4 cups a day so it’s something I occasionally wonder about. I have some friends who get headaches when they don’t have coffee, but I haven’t experienced that.

Every other year I find myself in a situation where I go without coffee. This time I went eight days without a coffee, which is probably an adult record for me. I didn’t get a headache or have any withdrawals, I just missed being able to sit in a cafe. I consoled myself knowing that my first coffee back would be extra special (it was).

I’m now walking around again but not at full strength. A massage therapist/acupuncturist does a house call to my room for $10 a session. I went to a medical clinic which happens to be a five minute walk from my house that has an MRI and X-ray service. I got an MRI on my back which cost two and a half million Dong ($112 USD) which included the consultation. I have some herniation and bulging discs going on, but no nerve damage at least.

Travel plans

With my travel plans thrown out the window I don’t have any travel plans for this month. My visa expires next month so most likely a short trip somewhere in Vietnam this month, while working out my visa run travels for next month. My back says no more chicken buses, so I’m cool with that.

Travel books I’ve read

City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi

City of Djinns: A Year in DelhiWilliam Dalrymple and his wife spent a year in Delhi which is chronicled in City of Djinns. The book is a narrative of his life in the city, and the people he lives and works with as he goes about researching the history of Delhi.

The book covers a lot of history, including the time of the Mughal Empire, the British setting up capital, and the violent upheaval of the partition of India. It’s a good book to read if you’re planning a trip to Delhi, or interested in Indian history.

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

ICYMI – Last months posts

I caught up on most of my Cape Town articles:

Notes on Cape Town – My thoughts and observations during my two weeks in Cape Town.

A list of the best cafes in Cape Town – A was amazed at how many cool cafes are in the city.

Visiting the former apartheid prison of Robben Island – One of the “must sees” of Cape Town.

Other sites

If you’re interested in the business of travel blogging then check out my other site. Every month I do a round up of travel blog news. Last month I also put together a list of websites that pay travel writers.

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  1. Carolyn James says

    Sorry about your back! There is a book by Esther Gokhale, very interesting. She discovered that slouching became fashionable back in the 1930s and (with the connection remaining unnoticed) a lot more people now have back problems. She also studied cultures where people grow up having good posture, like Burkina Faso, and shows a lot of photos in the book, of people with natural posture and others with “modern” posture.
    My therapist recommended the book: 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back. It is not boring. Just looking at the pictures helps. I got my copy through abebooks.com for about $20.

  2. Jacquie Parker says

    Hi. Consider “The North American Spine Center” in Dallas or Houston ( there are others, but those are the go to ones).Yes, way expensive, yes, need insurance, BUT a cure. New techniques, fixed, done, better, back on the road. ( Not me, you). I know whereof I speak, being a medical professional ( PA). In addition to the above book, try the McKenzie exercises, an old standard that works miracles. Good luck!

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