Vietnam!

It’s been a few weeks and I’m just now sitting down to write about our 10-year-anniversary trip to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. To be fair, the past few weeks have been CRAZY. Paul took off for Tanzania (he's gone for almost a month!) the day after we returned from Vietnam, which was also the start of my last week of school.

So yeah! We went to Vietnam for our anniversary! Paul surprised me by purchasing tickets and planning the trip. The intention was to keep the destination a secret until we arrived at the airport (!) but I accidentally ruined the surprise (as usual) about a week before. Nonetheless, I was blown away by Paul’s thoughtful planning.

Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon

Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon

Paul picked Vietnam because he had just read one of my favorite books, Graham Greene’s The Quiet American. Paul ended up booking a room at Hotel Continental Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City’s oldest hotel, where Greene actually wrote the book. I’ve never been on a “literary” trip before and it was pretty thrilling to hunt down locations from the book.

We stayed at the Hotel Continental Saigon, where Graham Greene wrote The Quiet American and where a good bit of the book is set.

We stayed at the Hotel Continental Saigon, where Graham Greene wrote The Quiet American and where a good bit of the book is set.

Of course, being in Vietnam was also sobering. It was hard not to think about the Vietnam/American War with every step we took. It’s chilling to see how easily we rewrite history for our own benefit and terribly frightening to think that this dehumanization of the “other” is something that humans have always done and continue to do.

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We found Ho Chi Minh City extremely charming and picturesque. The architecture is a fascinating mix of new and old. There are red flags, yellow stars, and pictures of Ho Chi Minh everywhere. Hotel Continental is located right at the heart of the historic city and we spent many hours wandering the neighboring streets and stopping for coffee every couple of blocks.

Coffee! Vietnam is chock-full of cafes! And — even better — the home of so many “secret” cafes! We went to a number of cafes and restaurants that required walking through dark alleys and climbing flights of stairs in what look like residential buildings. 

A little hint to let us know we're on the right track, three flights in on our journey through a dark residential building.

A little hint to let us know we're on the right track, three flights in on our journey through a dark residential building.

Vietnam is one of the leading global producers of coffee beans and the local culture certainly reflects that. We picked up a coffee dripper (my favorite kind of souvenir — local coffee gear!) and had our share of super strong coffee + sweetened condensed milk.

All of those lit spots are cafes and boutiques. We picked a cafe on the 8th floor--it was quite an adventure to get there (a walk down a dark corridor then 8 flights of stairs through a residential area).

All of those lit spots are cafes and boutiques. We picked a cafe on the 8th floor--it was quite an adventure to get there (a walk down a dark corridor then 8 flights of stairs through a residential area).

The food was, of course, incredible. We ate and ate and ate and EVERYTHING was good.

I had three bowls of noodles for breakfast one morning.

I had three bowls of noodles for breakfast one morning.

All-in-all, we loved Ho Chi Minh City. It made for a fantastic weekend trip and we can’t wait to go back for a longer visit.

Downside of going on an anniversary trip somewhere hot: Paul: Sorry, I didn't mean to touch you.

Downside of going on an anniversary trip somewhere hot:
Paul: Sorry, I didn't mean to touch you.