We landed safely in Ho Chi Minh City after a near miss of our flight from Bangkok. We were met by his family who took us out for dinner and I was able to experience my first real bowl of pho in Vietnam - my favourite food! I hopped on the back of one of the motorbikes and was thrown right into the hustle and bustle of life in HCMC. After dinner, we returned to his aunt & uncles' who were to be our accommodation for our week-long stay in HCMC. Knowing that we would be visiting family, this was the one week where I was hands-off and just went with the flow. It was a nice break from the constant research and planning I did in preparation for this trip.
During our stay, we spent most of our time eating and enjoying different specialties the city had to offer. It was a real culinary experience and I am so grateful to his family for their generosity and hospitality. We spent a day with his cousins and watched Captain America: Civil War, to take a break from the heat. They took us around different parts of the city, and it was interesting to see the subtle differences between districts.
His family had arranged for a day trip to the islands about 1-2 hours from the city, where we joined a tour who brought us around the 3 different islands. We had fresh honey and tea, fresh local fruit, and fresh coconut juice from a coconut that grows locally in that area (swamp coconut!). I was also able to feed alligators! They would tie a piece of meat to a string that was attached to the end of a thin bamboo pole and you would lower it in and out of the alligator enclosure. It was certainly an interesting experience, and I'm glad I was able to experience it!
While in HCMC, I also had the pleasure of trying ostrich meat pho. It was surprisingly similar to beef, and thoroughly delicious. We also spent time visiting one of the shopping malls in another district, where we were able to order small hot pot in the food court! While we were there, we also celebrated his aunt's birthday with the entire family. The last night we were in the city, we enjoyed a homemade meal with the family. Afterwards, his cousins decided to take us out for a night on the town. We went to a rooftop lounge in downtown HCMC, where we enjoyed beer towers and fruit while singing along to Top 40 tracks. It was the best way we could have spent our last night in HCMC!
Late that night was terrible, but for the sake of blogging... I woke up in the middle of the night feeling nauseous. We were staying on the 3rd floor and the bathroom was a mere 6-8 steps around an L-shaped hallway. Needless to say, there was an "accident" and a fall resulting in a huge mess and massive bruises. Not the best way to end a stay, but certainly memorable!
We headed to the airport the next day to continue our journey.