After we boarded the cruise ship in Singapore, we spent a few days at sea with days spent lounging around reading through a few new books (I LOVED The Siren by Kiera Cass and I finally finished Allegiant!). Our first stop on the cruise portion of the trip was Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam!
This was a place that I didn’t know much about besides the infamous Pho noodle dish.
We started the day by driving from the port into the city. It was a two hour drive filled with rice fields and small country dwellings. Honestly, Ho Chi Minh is a beautiful city but also filled with slums and tarps for homes. It was something not many of the kids on our trip had ever seen and was definitely an eye-opener.
Since it was a Saturday when we were there, the streets were PACKED with mopeds and scooters! It was insane! Some also carried up to five family members on one scooter. It was their way of running errands on the weekend with the family, and it was certainly a sight to see!
After walking around the city, we went to check out some cool temples! Our first stop was the beautiful Thiên Hậu Temple located right in the heart of Ho Chi Minh city.
Our next stop in the city by touring through the old capitol building in what was formerly known as Saigon.
I thought these pastel retro phones were so cute!
Our last stop was at a museum and by this time, we were all burning up from the heat and sat down and enjoyed this random lady serving tea. Haha, there were a few times in Vietnam where we had random encounters with people with tea, and it was such a fun cultural experience.
Our last stop on the first day was at a beautiful lacquer shop where they created tons of artwork and souvenirs.
We spent the night at the port on the ship, and the next morning woke up bright and early to tour a Buddhist temple and see the rice fields!
We started the morning at this amazing Buddhist temple right outside of Ho Chi Minh. There was a weekend retreat going on while we were there, so we were able to listen to the morning prayers and watch the meditation. There was also a beautiful garden out back and just stunning architecture. It was really cool to see!
It was really cool to see!
I loved this little old lady who was the groundkeeper for the temple. She loved that we were taking pictures of her and she kept posing!
After the Buddhist temple, we went to a Cao Dai temple.
Cao Dai is the religion that “includes all religions” and means holy land.
We met the groundskeeper, who shared his tea with us. It tasted like licorice and was delicious! He was so sweet and sat with us and talked for a long time. I think this temple was one of the highlights of the trip!
After the temple hopping, we went to a family home where one of the women in the family makes rice paper. In Vietnam, they mix herbs and other things in the rice paper to eat as snacks, but she also makes paper that we use for spring rolls! She makes a crazy amount each day, something like 500 if I remember correctly, and it involves a system of making the mixture, heating it up, rolling it out, and letting it dry out. We were able to try a bite and it was spicy and delicious!
After leaving her home, we walked to giant rice field (led by our tour guide), where we all proceeded to get bit by Vietnam’s equivalent of fire ants and as we were running back to the bus, a few of us were charged by a bull. It was terrifying in the moment, but thinking back it must have been hilarious to see us all running for our lives with bites all over our feet!
The last stop we made before heading back to the boat for our next destination was a food market. We sipped on coconut water, saw frogs getting skinned alive (it was terrible) and I tried sugar cane juice for the first time.
My mom drank sugar cane juice all the time while growing up in Puerto Rico, but it was my first time having it. They juice the whole sugar cane and it was seriously the best drink I’ve ever had!
Any guesses at what that is? I still have no idea.
It was such a cool experience visiting Vietnam! Next stop: China!