We had a long journey to Vietnam, not because our flights were messed up or delayed, just because it actually took 20 hours of flight time to get here. We flew from New York to Dubai which took about 12.5 hours and then we had a short layover in Dubai and boarded a 7.5 hour flight to Ho Chi Minh City.
The flight was long but actually very very nice. We flew on Emirates and I would highly recommend it. They have great accommodations including delicious food (as far as airplane food goes), great movies, and the seats go back fairly far. When we arrived in Dubai we had to go through security again and then we walked around a bit after taking two elevators and a train to get to our new gate.
Once we landed in Ho Chi Minh City we had to apply for our visas. We submitted a form online for what is called a visa on arrival. This means that instead of mailing your passport before you leave the country to your local embassy and waiting a few weeks to get your visa back, you can just stand in line once you arrive and quiet literally get your visa on arrival. This is also the cheaper option costing only $25 for an entry stamp. Tamir and I had some documents prepared and we stood in a pretty long line in order to hand them to over so they could process our visa. It took about an hour for them to process but we think it is because there was a big backlog. We waited for our visas and then once we got them we entered the country!
We exchanged some money at the airport and as Tamir put it, we soon became “Dong Millionaires.” This is because the exchange rate is about 22,000 Vietnamese Dong (VND) to 1 US Dollar. It took us about a half hour in a cab to get to our hotel. We are staying in District 1 which is a popular area for backpackers.
Once we arrived at our hotel we got settled a bit and then headed out to grab some food. We went to get Pho at a place that the receptionist at our hotel recommended. After eating a great bowl of Pho and walking around a bit, I wanted to head back and go to bed and Tamir ventured back out to get a massage.
I woke up pretty early in the morning because of my jet lag and I read a bit until Tamir woke up around 8:30am. We got breakfast and then ventured out to see some of the sights around Ho Chi Minh. We first stopped at Ben Thanh Market and then walked over to Tao Dan Park.
It was really really hot and still before noon so after hanging around in that area we walked back to the area we were staying in and stopped to get massages. The massages here are very cheap and pretty great so we are trying to take advantage of that to the best of our ability. After our massage we headed to the pool! We decided to stay in a place that had a pool because we knew the first day or two we were here we wanted to be able to chill.
The day pretty much ended there with lots of hanging, good conversation, some swimming, and a nap. David landed at around 8:00pm and made it to the hotel by 10:00pm so once he arrived we caught up and then went to grab dinner and get another massage. We are now back in the hotel, David is passed out, and I am not joking – Tamir went out to get his fourth massage in the 28 hours we have been here.
Tomorrow we are going to see the war remants museum and then fly to Hanoi. In Hanoi we are meeting up with Shosh who flew there directly and another surprise guest. I will let you all wallow in suspense until I post again – I promise it is a really really good guest!
Goodnight from Saigon.