Ho Chi Minh City Travel Diaries

I recently travelled to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and it was one of the most overwhelmingly chaotic and yet beautiful cities I have ever been to. I was greeted by swarms of motorbikes, locals selling produce, smog, smiling faces and the smell of steamed rice.

Our first stop was the Cu Chi tunnels, a remnant of the Vietnam War used by the Viet Cong to stay out of enemy sight. The tour took us into the tunnels and showed us hideous booby traps used on American soldiers, including hidden pits filled with rust covered spokes. The tunnels themselves were very narrow (about 1m x 1m x 1m), and crawling through them in the darkness was spine tingling…definitely not for someone who is claustrophobic.

Most nights we gorged on Pho (pronounced fur), a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup dish with meats such as beef or chicken. The most authentic Pho we had was from a restaurant called Pho 2000 where we had our meal for AU$4.00 each amongst lots of locals.

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Another must do in the city is to go to a nail salon (if it’s your thing). All the nail treatments are incredibly cheap but very professional. I treated myself to nail art, getting a mini masterpiece of colourful birds and flowers blossoming on each fingernail. In the afternoon we strolled about the main district of the city (District 1) showing off our nails and sampling several cakes with intricate cream icing designs from their amazing bakeries.

On the third day we took a full day tour on the Mekong Delta (a maze of rivers that snake through Vietnam) where we got a taste of local life on various islands on the outskirts of Vietnam, such as Unicorn Island.

The best part was floating along a river between two islands on a Vietnamese long boat. In some places the river was carpeted by green moss, which parted as the boat waded through. Surrounding us were leaves that feathered out from the trees in the silence we could hear water licking the banks and birds chirruping. It was magical.

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For lunch we had buffet of traditional meals such as beef rib Pho, an assortment of fried and steamed fish, spring rolls, steamed veggies and soup, all complimented with big jugs of their cheap Tiger beer. After lunch we entered a different world to the busy Ho Chi Minh City centre, as we explored the island on bicycles and saw locals picking fruits from the trees and collecting honey.

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Ho Chi Minh city was a unique and eye-opening experience and I will come back to explore Hanoi and Ha Long bay. Next stop Thailand!

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Four Months of Freedom in Sydney

Uni is finally over and I have a break for four months.

I’m so excited to just relax and explore Sydney and finally do the Asia travel I’ve been anticipating for months.

Since I finished last Wednesday I have packed in seeing as many people as I can and doing as much exciting stuff as I can fit in around my shifts at work (9 to 5 four days a week this Christmas season).

Since then I have also been to a couple of restaurants with friends, my favourites being Courtyard at Coogee Beach, where I had an acai bowl and a matcha latte, and BahBQ a Brazilian restaurant in Crows Nest which offers the unique experience of a Brazilian Churrasco where you pay $59pp to have an all you can eat degustation.

My favourite meals are the fire roasted meats, garlic prawns, grilled halloumi, polenta chips, crumbed banana and roasted pineapple.

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I also had a shopping day with my best friend and we went to see the massive Christmas tree (3 stories high) at Queen Victoria Building and bought some Christmas presents for friends. I also bought myself two pairs of bikini bottoms from H&M for only $15, to increase my swimmer collection for when I go traveling to beachy places like the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Byron Bay in the coming months.

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Standing underneath the tree at QVB – hundreds of Swarovski crystals create a dazzling illusion as they hang from a mirror base

I’m so excited for the coming months, I’ve had a great first year at uni but I am very ready to relax with friends, travel and eat good food instead of being cramped in my room studying.

Tomorrow I’m off for breakfast at a Middle Eastern restaurant called Kepos Street Kitchen, and I’m tossing up between ‘Dad’s favourite brekky – falafel, hummus, labneh, soft boiled egg, tomato salad, schiacciata bread’ or the ‘Avocado toast, coriander seeds, crispy kale, poached eggs’.

Then, for dinner I’m meeting up with a childhood friend for one of our favourite chill nights at the Green Gourmet which is a vegan restaurant that does fake ‘meat’ and I always order the ‘Lo Han Tsai 十八羅漢齋煲 -Bean curd stick, baby sweet corn, carrot, tiger lily buds, wood ear, red date, bean vermicelli & fresh vegetables, stir fried with a delightful blend of Hoi Sin & soy sauce’.

xx