Fighting for Pennies & Scaring Grandpas: Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Day 2 & 3- It’s a Blur

Ho Chi Minh

After the grueling 17-hour flight we finally got to Tran’s stomping grounds, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. The first thing anyone will notice about this city is its’ humidity. It hits you like a never-ending wave. Jackie’s cousin drove us to her grandparent’s apartment from the airport, it’s a little area above a children’s clothing store. It’s common here for homes to be above shops.  Jackie taught us how to say hi- Jao Mung and thank you- Gau Mung. I later asked her how to say sorry- Sin Lo, because I keep bumping into the tiny Asians all around me. Jackie’s grandparents were trilled to meet us. Well, that’s what Jackie told us, it’s hard to tell considering the fact that Asians always sound so mad with their loud and sharp way of speaking. Lauren scared Tran’s grandpa at first, I don’t think he’s ever seen a red head.


The apartment is two floors with winding, cement stairs connecting the two. All six of us are sharing one room, two girls per bed. Luckily, Carleigh and I got the big, non bunk bed. We all fell asleep immediately. The next day we basically toured Ho Chi Minh. We went to a market where I bought a scarf and elephant pants- baggy cloth pants with colorful designs that are sold on every corner. Blake introduced me to the comfy pants since he’s been here before and sadly, wears them way too much.

At one point in the market I had two women fighting over me and tugging my arms in different directions, each trying to get me to buy their pants over the others. I just stood there saying help. I also found that when I’m at these markets, I try to haggle the sellers into lower prices, which means the difference of maybe 50 cents because everything in Asia is so cheap. The money to me is like Monopoly money, I just throw it around aimlessly. It’s kind of sad really to be fighting with these people over nickels and dimes when they clearly need the cash more than I do. Yet, here I am, fighting over each dime. Oh, Americans.

We ate some pho and got massages (an obvious must when you’re in Asia). My little Viatnamese masseause showed me no mercy, she was pretty rough trying to get my knots out! They literally sit on you when they give you a massage. I was fighting back laughter on the inside. We then all passed out for a couple hours- a massage will do that to you.

After waking up we got food, fried rice with a side of flies (kidding, but they were everywhere, making me an unhappy camper). Then, we went to a hostel and played beer pong with other backpackers. Caroline and I lost twice, once to a Swedish girl named Johanna who I now consider to be my spirit animal—super cool chick who’s traveling the world alone, yeah… I wish I was more like her.

Friday we woke up and Tran took Paige and I to the park where her grandma works out. Then we wandered through a food market, which I struggled with because of all the fish everywhere- both dead and alive. I’m a bit of a pansy when it comes to that smell.

After that we took off to a day trip to the Mekong River Delta. Once we arrived, we got into tiny, wooden boats and were rowed to an island, called Unicorn Island, by tiny, but incredibly strong women. Once at the island we each held a boa constrictor, sorry mom, tasted honey tea (so good), ate traditional fruits and saw how coconut candy was made. At the end of the tour it started downpouring so we had to wait out the rain as it was impossible to even see across the river, let alone cross it. The storm was amazing though. I haven’t seen a storm like that since leaving Michigan.