For two weeks, I left my comfortable home and friendly surroundings for something entirely different. I found myself sleepless in Saigon.
Travelling abroad has always been on my horizon but with the mark of a new year and an internship opportunity in Thailand, I knew it would be an unforgettable experience to sleep, eat and navigate through a distant city, alone.
It took an 8hr flight and a 2hr transit to reach my destination but in due time, the peaks and troughs of Ho Chi Minh City appeared in my window as a blaze of yellow flashing lights.
Against the backdrop of the night sky, Saigon’s bright lights were like none other- a bright array of pink and orange neon lights towering above the busy streets. I was struck and mystified by the lively lights and knew thereon that this was a vibrant, vivacious and colourful city.
I touched down smoothly and as a first time solo-traveller, I gripped my bags hard and headed purposefully for the taxi stand. I had read that only MaiLinh and Vinasun taxis were to be trusted but I was definitely unprepared for the lack of English speaking drivers, even amongst reputable taxi companies.
Anxiety taunted me as my driver struggled to find my boutique hotel, but with each passing motorbike and street food vendor, Saigon’s beauty and energy stirred my curiousity.
A total of four days was spent wandering around the heart of Saigon city. You would have easily spotted this lone female traveller mimicking local bargaining habits and awkwardly ordering vermicelli in broken Vietnamese. Through visits to historical monuments and cultural exhibitions I also grappled with Vietnam’s violent and turbulent past.
In hindsight, my short Vietnamese getaway taught me the meaning of true security and the worth and value of placing my trust in a steadfast and eternal foundation. It was an unforgettable experience falling in love with Saigon and I was quick to discover a city of organised chaos, delicious food and people who are resilient and persevering to the core.
I spent most of my days trawling the streets of the city, where Saigon’s life and culture are most spectacularly displayed and expressed and I hope that through some of these snaps, I can share some of Saigon’s secret beauty, tucked away deeply yet visibly, in its streets.