Saigon and Phu Quoc
When you read this, Frits and I are in Vietnam; 5 days Saigon (no, folks, no one says Ho Chi Minh, even though it is the city’s official name), followed by 5 days at the beach on Phu Quoc island.
Revisiting Vietnam after 25 years
Ok, to be honest it was ‘only’ 24 years ago…but 25 years sounds more appealing, doesn’t it? Hahaha….
The pictures in this post were taken then. The bad quality is because these are pictures from the pictures in my photo albums.
Backpacking budget travellers
I went there with my boyfriend at the time, Rein, who worked for KLM.
We traveled a lot during our 8 years together, because of the great arrangements for airline staff. Employees and their partners can fly for very low prices. There are a lot of rules and restrictions though, and the uncertainty of wether we would have a seat or were left behind at the airport was quite nerve-wracking.
We were young and did not have a lot of money, so we were backpacking budget-travelers back then.
SO NOT a fashion icon
I used to bring my ugliest clothes, so that I could leave them behind when worn. No need to wash them or bring them back home. Easy peasy!
It made traveling easier; my backpack got lighter and lighter, during my trips. More room for souvenirs and purchases.
Downside: I looked like a fashion-disaster, hahaha.
We ‘did’ the lower half of Vietnam, in 3 to 4 weeks. First loop was from Saigon to Hue and back, via cities like Hoi An, not to be confused with Hanoi.
After that, from Saigon, we did a second loop, to the Mekong Delta and back.
Part of our trip was with other travellers whom we met on the spot. That was very easy. You went to one of a few known backpackers-cafes. On the wall were lists with an itinerary, dates and a price. All you had to do was write your name on a list and at the given date, the so formed ‘group’ would go on the road, in a small bus with a driver and a tour guide.
One of the people in that first group was Von (Veronica), from Manchester, who I’m still friends with. In the years that followed, I visited her in rainy Manchester and she visited me in the Netherlands. Since then we keep in touch by phone, email and snail mail. Friends for life, so to speak.
My ex Rein, a really sweet guy, sadly passed away a couple of years ago.
Okay, to be honest I never make notes, not then and not now. Although in a way I did and do: before the digital era I made thick, heavy photo albums afterwards, while now I write blogposts about my trips.
Frits has not visited Vietnam before and neither of us have been to Phu Quoc Island. So there’s no comparing there.
But I WAS in Saigon 25 -ok, 24- years ago and I’m very curious to see what has changed since then.
Will I still recognise things?
Has Saigon gotten way more modernised? Hipper?
Will the streets be busier?
Izzit safer now or is there more crime?
Talking about comparing: I bought a number of postcards in 1993 that show Saigon around 1925 and I compared what life looked like in the early days with when I was there.
It’s a simple itinerary; Saigon and Phu Quoc.
I booked us two excursions in Saigon: Back of the Bike and Sophie’s Art Tour. And I will be DJ-ing at the local tango salon in Saigon. Exciting!
You will read/see all about it , here on the blog, in a couple of weeks, no doubt.
As usual I did my homework: read lots of blogs and articles about our two destinations: Saigon and Phu Quoc.
With that info I made my own map of Saigon. If you ever go to Saigon (or if you live there) be sure to check out my map. All of the hotspots on one map; handy!
Have you been to Vietnam? Any tips or advice?