I am sitting right now in a coffee shop in Ho Chi Minh City by myself closing my eyes and nearly drifting off to sleep. I wonder, if I didn’t have the computer in front of me, would I be able to stay awake?
I am starting to feel the rythyms of the city just a bit. I can walk quite a lot of District 1 without thinking now.
This morning, I packed the stuff that I am taking to Cambodia, Malaysia, and Singapore and I left Tú’s house at 8:20 AM. I got almost to Pham Ngu Lao Street where I was going to get dropped off by the taxi when Hà (my employer) sent me an SMS and told me to meet her at “Innoviet’s second office.” I showed the driver the SMS which said
“D, can we meet in the 2nd office of innoviet. 42/10 A ho hao hon st dis 1”
The driver thought for a moment then nodded. We drove to the entry to the alley (in Ho Chi Minh City, 42/10A means go to 42, then go down the alley to 10A) and he dropped me with my damn big backpack. I went to the address and was at first confused because it looked like a really fancy house, not Innoviet’s second office. I rang the bell and Ha came to answer. She let me in and told me that Innoviet was renting one room in the house to use as their marketing, finance, etc etc etc (office tasks) space. Innoviet also had access to the kitchen, so the housekeeper made breakfast for us all. Then, I stayed for a while talking business with Ha.
We discussed what she envisioned for the website, what I should do, how I should move forward with a little bit of work while I am on travel to Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore. I told Ha that I should probably go soon and she said okay. I went downstairs and started repacking my backpack so that I could fit all of my stuff into a single bag. Ha asked if I needed to shower before I went and seeing as I was sweating like crazy, I decided to take one. After my shower, three other people (besides me, ha, and the housekeeper) had arrived and we sat down to lunch. Then, I finally went on my way.
I walked about four blocks and found myself at the busy roundabout near 15 May School. Went to 15 May, saw Thi, bought an iced coffee, bought Thi some kem (ice cream). After visiting 15 May for about 15 minutes, I walked out to the end of the alley and crossed over to the ATM and withdrew 1.000.000Đ (about $60). Walked back up to backpacker’s district and Pham Ngu Lao. I stopped to take a picture and noticed that a giant rain cloud had appeared in the last five minutes. I decided to keep walking to see if I could make it to Ben Thanh, the main market. I got only to the edge of a nearby park before it started raining. I was safe under the trees for a while, but in the end, I decided to huddle under one of the rain shelter things in the park with everyone else. I stood there for a while, the only non-Vietnamese, and the only person carrying a gigantic backpack.
One of the women approached me and asked where I was from. I said USA. She asked me a lot of questions in English and then I said something about Paris and the conversation switched into French and continued in French for ten minutes. The rain had stopped enough for me to continue. I walked down the road, past Ben Thanh Market, to Highlands Coffee where I am sitting now. I ate some kem and am typing out this note on my computer.
Not sure where to go from here. I don’t have anyone to meet until 7:00PM for the bus to Nha Trang. I might walk back to City Hall (People’s Committee Building) to see it once more before I leave Ho Chi Minh Ville. Might wander around randomly to see what I find. Well, whatever I do, must go with this big bag that I have.