Before starting my adventure in Southeast Asia, I had so many doubts. I had traveled solo many times, but never so far away from home. From Chile it turns out to be a very long and expensive trip.
Finally, the time came, while in Germany I bought a one-way ticket to Saigon, Vietnam. A ticket that, without knowing it back then, it was going to change my life forever.
When I arrived I had not sorted out the issue of transportation, so at the airport, after international police and after buying a SimCard for my phone, I set out to find the best way to get to the English school I would volunteer in exchange for room and board for a week.
I was advised to download Grab, which is the equivalent of Uber. In less than 5 minutes I was already in a car.
My first encounter with the city was a total shock, I could not believe the traffic and especially the number of motorcycles and everything that those people carried on them. Complete families, furniture, shopping, everything.
The English school where I volunteered was located on the outskirts of Saigon, so the trip lasted a good 30 minutes, which allowed me to get an idea of what I was getting into.
The smells, the people, the feeling of the city, everything was different, but it felt so right, I had the feeling in my body that that was exactly the place I needed to be at that moment. It was a marvelous feeling.
When I arrived the teacher received me with a big smile, she showed me the school, my room, she introduced me to her family and gave me my first Vietnamese food that came in a plastic bag, shock again. The food didn’t look very nice, but it had an amazing smell, so I tried it and loved it.
My first time in the bathroom in Asia
After settling into my new room, it was time to go to the bathroom and surprise!
After I was ready I started looking for the toilet paper, but there was none, I found a hose so I sensed what had to be done. Luckily there was a shelf with plenty of clean towels over the toilet bowl.
At first it seemed a nuisance to have to go with my towel, wash and get wet every time I went to the bathroom, but the truth is that I ended up liking the fresh and clean feeling after. In fact, it was one of the things I missed the most when I returned to the West a few months later.
After resting and adjusting to the new time zone, I decided to explore the city. I decided that my first step should be to get familiar with the food, to know what to buy for the rest of my stay in Vietnam.
I booked a food tour through the Airbnb Experiences section which I loved. The tour was ran by a young student , who took me on his motorcycle through different markets and neighborhoods of Ho Chi Minh (Saigon). He explained the history and ingredients of the typical dishes of Vietnamese cuisine, as well as many interesting facts about of his culture and city.
After a day full of delicious food and friendly conversation a was ready to face my adventure in Vietnam, which would take me through beautiful landscapes and amazing people that got stuck in my heart until today.