Nearly a week after my birthday- most of which was spent sick in bed (with what was likely a flu, and not malaria as I expected), Bordeaux and I left Cambodia. We crossed the border into Viet Nam, and soon arrived in Ho Chi Minh. It was to be our final destination, and the city where Bordeaux and I were expecting to make a home.
Ho Chi Minh was a surprisingly beautiful city. Our guesthouse was directly opposite a lush leafy park, where old women went for walks and young couples sat together on wooden benches. The city was constantly buzzing with traffic and activity. There were tiny noodle shops in alleys, and wide streets lined with foodstalls. Perhaps most charming of all, the city had a number of incredible old buildings, that, astoundingly for Southeast Asia, were perfectly preserved. The paint on the post office, the opera house, and the baroque Hotel de Ville looked as fresh and creamy as if they had just been built. The city also had a quirky sense of humor and design, present in the kitsch Communist propaganda posters, and the gold painted pop-art Ho Chi Minh busts that lined shop walls.
But sadly, life in HCMC was not to be. While searching for jobs, we found the options to be limited- where they were hiring, they generally required a CELTA or a TEFL. And while I liked the city far more than I expected, I never felt the same instant connection that I felt in Bangkok. After less than a week in Viet Nam, we began searching online, and visiting travel agents- and we booked two one-way tickets back to Bangkok. It was a big decision, but it felt right. Still, I was a little sad to leave HCMC. It was a shame to spend such a short time in such a beautiful place- particularly since we spent most of the time worrying about finding jobs and housing, rather than enjoying the atmosphere. HCMC city is without a doubt the place from our trip that I'm most curious to revisit.