Here we go, our last day in Vietnam. I really wish we would have come back to Saigon earlier, but exploring Hanoi was very eye-opening (I would have rather been there in the spring though!). We booked a night in a well-reviewed hotel just around the corner from our original spot at a super saver rate on Agoda. We booked this though less than 8 hours in advance, so when we arrived, we found that they had overbooked us. Last time this happened, just two days earlier in Hanoi, we had the run-around being sent from hotel one hotel to a sister hotel, and, unhappy with the replacement to several others until winding up in a place ironically named “First Choice Hotel”. Well played Vietnam. This time, rather than being turned away, we were simply upgraded at no charge to the Elegant Suite, where we spent almost all of our free time lounging in the jacuzzi spa bathtub giggling at the suds and jets and ultra-mini Vietnamese-sizes bathrobes. Saigon is HOT, especially after weeks of bone-chilling rain and cold — it’s heaven just seeing the sun again.
In Hanoi, Duc gave us some recommendations for contemporary galleries and restaurants to explore in HCMC, so we hit up a very delicious Cuc Gach Quan, a restaurant in an architects home, which may be my absolute favorite restaurant on earth. We ate soft-shelled crab, steamed vegetables, and dried shrimp with green mango salad, accompanied with plenty of soft, earthy brown rice and Vietnamese cherry juice, freshly blended and served in a little glass bottle with a rolled banana leaf as a stopper, and honey on the side. It was all so light, so balanced, and so so satisfying.
We wandered around for lunch today, with 12 hours to kill before our flight leaves. Another light lunch, shredded prawns in rice paper, a seafood salad, and pork vermicelli salad, plus two desserts: my new favorite sweet soup of bananas in coconut milk and tapioca, and drunken sticky rice in sake. So inexpensive by American standards, and so much better than I could ever find back home. Now it’s time to decide how to make a living here 😉
Still 7 hours to kill, and it’s too humid to walk around with all of our backpacks, so we’re heading off to see The Hobbit in 3D at the local cinema.