If you say the motorbikes in Jakarta are the worst in the world, you have never been to Saigon.
Saigon is another name for Ho Chi Minh City, the capital city of Vietnam. Saigon was the previous name. But I prefer to call it Saigon, sounds cooler.
Arriving in Saigon, my friend named vhat, a young Vietnamese boy I know in Bangkok immediately invited me to hang out at a coffee shop.
Just a few minutes I set foot in Saigon, I was already dizzy to hear the loud horns of motorcycles blaring everywhere. Even though in front of the motor there is no problem whatsoever!
It seems that he has a hobby of honking his horn even though the vehicle in front of him is still far away. Maybe they were really careful.
But vhat said, this is a very quiet vehicle. Because people are going home to celebrate the lunar new year, or in Indonesian: Chinese New Year.
“Tomorrow I will accompany you for a walk around Saigon! But it can’t be long, in the afternoon I have to go back for New Year’s Eve dinner with my family,” said vhat.
Next morning vhat picked us up at the inn. We stayed at one of the hotels in Ho chi Minh District 1. Our first destination was Tan Dinh Market, which is about a kilometer walk from the inn.
But vhat has warned, “I don’t know, I think they’re closing getting ready for the new year tomorrow…”
It turned out to be true. The market is completely closed! I came at the wrong timing.
Luckily, there was a Pho seller near the market which had just opened. And this is my first authentic Pho in Vietnam!
It feels… duh. It’s a really light but solid beef broth gravy. The rice noodles are soft but not overcooked. The thin red flesh suddenly ripens when drenched in the spicy broth that has been cooked for hours.
Not to mention the addition of Vietnamese herbal ‘lalapan’. It was the most enjoyable breakfast during my trip around Southeast Asia.
We continued to take pictures around the closed market. There was still activity that morning outside the market. One woman vhat friend joined us.
Our next popular destination market, Ben Thanh Market, was completely closed. It’s natural, yes, a kind of Eid in Indonesia.
It was noon, our Vietnamese friends had to go home for Eid. But before that, they took us to Cholon, Saigon’s Chinatown. They bought what equipment they seemed to be lacking to celebrate the lunar new year.
I’m not comfortable with Vhat accompanying me on the holidays. So I parted ways with my Vietnamese friend that afternoon.
Vhat gave us ‘angpau’. “For your luck,” he said. But he insisted that he could not open the envelope until I returned to Indonesia.
I also continued to take pictures around the inn until the next morning I headed to the last city on my trip: Hanoi.
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