The past couple of days have been lovely. I haven't seen the families I met my first weekend since it's back to school for their kidS, but we have been making plans for this weekend. Meanwhile,
I have been getting myself into a good rhythm for my work week. Doing freelance gigs means spending a lot of time online, a lot of time researching, a lot of time looking up and applying to jobs, a lot of time contacting people and following up, a lot of time editing photos, websites, social media... and answering to yourself with how productive you are!
I'm in a pretty balanced mind set where I schedule the morning (when I'm most productive) to tackle items on my to do lists and do online work, and then have something scheduled in the afternoon. Whether it's wandering my neighborhood and district to familiarize myself with street names and see what shops there are or exploring different parts of town and seeing the more touristy attractions, I'm trying really hard to make sure I get out and immerse. I'm also realistic with the fact that this is day 6 in my new country and life, and routines will come with a bit more time.
So after a very productive morning that I felt accomplished with, I decided to head to District One and see some of the popular attractions. The easiest way to get around in Vietnam (and majority of Southeast Asia) is by motorbike. Tuk-tuks were all the rage in Cambodia, but they aren't here.
I've ridden motorbikes before (in Jamaica), but not that often or recently. I was a teeny bit nervous about getting on one. However, I am fully aware that I will be riding on them all the time, and the only way to get comfortable is to ride them often. And to just go for it.
There are a few companies that have apps to get a ride on the bikes, and Uber is one of the easiest and cheapest. Ubermoto, lol. So I called my Uber and braced myself. I was pleasantly surprised by how easily I hopped on the back and got comfortable. I am positive that the leaner I get, it'll get even easier to get on and off. But this was no problem! I kept my bag draped around my body and in between the driver and me (for security reasons and also for personal comfort with getting too close to a stranger), and off we sped. I pretty quickly remembered that it's all about going with the flow of the driver and bike and staying relaxed. There are 10,000,000 x infinity bikes on the road, and they all weave in and out of traffic seamlessly - somehow. And you just have to sit back and follow the movement of the driver.
A 15-20 minute ride around narrow streets, over bridges, and through busy traffic circles cost me roughly $1.40 USD.
Then I spent about two hours wandering around the Opera House, Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon Central Post Office, and Ho Chi Minh City Hall. This part of town is much louder and more frantic than my quiet district, with way more tourists around. Which means more people trying to make a buck any way they can. It's also where all the fanciest shops and hotels were. An interesting combination to see.
Next, I went to Pasteur Street Brewing Company which I've heard about from a few friends. It brews American-style craft beer using high quality ingredients from Vietnam and around the world. Very cool spot where I had a little taste of some delicious beer such as a jasmine IPA and passion fruit wheat ale.
Then, I grabbed another motorbike home and ended the day by cooling off in the pool. My new routine. It's completely empty from 3-5pm, and that's a great time to swim laps and refresh from the heat. For reference, it feels like 100 degrees Fahrenheit in a tropical climate pretty much daily... and I love it!
Sending love from across the world.
Danielle Desnoyers is a traveling freelance photographer with a focus on humanitarian, travel, and family photography. She currently splits her time between the United States and Vietnam with travels to other countries as well.