“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” ~ Bill Bryson
So, here I am in Vietnam, and our first day has been quite an adventure! We’re staying in the old section of the Grand Hotel, Saigon. Somehow we were lucky enough to be upgraded to a suite right beside a tranquil swimming pool and green oasis. It’ s a refuge from the heat, and a fabulous spot for writing. After an early morning stroll around the neighbourhood I enjoyed a refreshing swim and then some time working on my book before lunch.
Ben and I are blessed to be travelling with an Australian-Vietnamese friend who is introducing us to a taste of local life. There’s nothing like having a tour guide with family in the area and inside knowledge! First up we tried local coffee – strong, sweet and good. Then after our swim Thanh took us to a simple noodle shop near our hotel and ordered us lunch. I got to enjoy my first ever bowl of authentic Pho – rice noodles in broth with thin slivers of beef and vegetables and a host of fresh herbs. Delicious!
Next was some crystal shopping and a wander around some local markets.
So much of today has revolved around food. In the cool of the late afternoon Thanh’s Dad and three of his mates turned up on their motorbikes and took us for a tour of the city, and a visit to the oldest cathedral in Saigon.
Travelling by bike is a great way to take in the sights, smells and atmosphere, although I must admit to being a little white knuckled at the craziness of the traffic until I finally relaxed into the flow of it. To a western eye it seems so disorganised, but if you step into that zen space and just go with it, there’s a strange logic and beauty to it.
After our city tour we finished up with dinner at an excellent Chinese restaurant. So much food. So much fun! The pictures below are rice vermicelli with fresh shrimp (prawns), garlic and chilli, and then a tofu and egg savoury custard topped with a meaty mushroom slice and some shellfish in a seafood bisque sauce. Oh my goodness, that was amazing!!! There was more too, but I was too busy eating and talking and laughing to remember to take photos! Sorry 🙂
Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!
Sending much love your way, Nicole <3 xoxo