Vietnam: Day 0

May 29.

10M souls in Saigon and sometimes all you need is one: yourself.

I see why a lot of people is traveling alone. It's like falling in love, it's scary as hell, but once you're there it's one of the most beautiful things life can offer.

Traveling alone taught me one valuable lesson: How to be happy with myself. Travel is food for my soul. I feel more contented than being alone in another country than being alone in Manila.

I won't recommend anyone doing what I did because it lacked planning and it was kind of reckless. But I feel I'm a better person after just my first few hours in Vietnam.

I forgot how strict immigrations are, and they ask a lot of questions when you're traveling to another country. You really have to be prepared to answer their questions else you'll have a hard time with them or worse, you might get denied. I didn't even book a hotel and the officer was asking me where I'll stay. Good thing I know someone in Vietnam because of my couchsurfing experience. It was not much trouble, maybe it helped that I picked an officer who I think is nicer than the others. He eventually let me pass after I answered his questions. I just leaped over one obstacle, now onto the next.

I arrived in Ho Chi Minh around 1am (May 30) and I was totally lost because I don't have a hotel yet. But my biggest worry at the moment was to be ripped off by a taxi driver. I was so lost that I sat outside the airport for 20 minutes to reorganize my thoughts. Fortunately, I saw two Filipino girls (I knew they were Filipinas because they spoke my language when a taxi driver approached them), I immediately went to them and asked them if they are going to district 1. They were friendly enough to offer to share taxi. We went outside airport and get the cheapest taxi, which is 240K dong (around $11). We divide it by 3 so I only paid 80K Dong.

I went to their hotel and see if I can book a place their at two in the morning. We arrived. It's strange that the hotel is closed with a steel door like in shops and you have to ring the bell to wake the manager / staff up. Unlike in the Philippines where there's always a receptionist to welcome guests. The girl staff who opened the steel door and she's squinting most likely from suddenly waking up in the middle of the night.

I asked if they have a dorm type room but they don't have. The cheapest room they offered is $10 a night and doesn't have an aircon. So I decided even if it's in the middle of the freaking night to not stay and find another place. I bid goodbye to my Filipino acquaintances Aliw and Nica. I am crazy to do this but my gut feeling tells me not to stay in that place. On top of this, the girl staff told me it's very dangerous to walk around saigon at night because there are many bad guys. Ugh. I still went out anyway.

So I walk around District 1 with the thought that any time my life can be in danger. I was trying to find Bich Duyen, a hostel I read in with good reviews. I cannot seem to find it and I was walking for 30 minutes already. I asked around but they don't know. 20 minutes more I found it in alley and it's closed! Anxiety is kicking in.. I'm in another country I'm not familiar with, I'm on my own, I don't have internet, it's 3 in the morning and I have no place to stay. All I can think of now is find the cheapest hostel with aircon and stay there for the night. I asked around and they offered around 9-13USD until my 4th try, I saw a nail spa with a sign outside with room rates. I asked the guy staff, Thung, and he said there's dorm type available and it's 5 USD. The dorm room has a capacity of 8 ppl. I took it.

The room is decent, aircon works nicely, and the best of all, my 3 dorm mates are all girls. The bed is okay, sheets are clean. I find that the nearest girl in my bed is still up and using her laptop. I just said my little "hi" and didn't bother her because it's too late at night (or too early in the morning, almost 4am); she looks European.

I sleep and everything is good. Stress is gone and it feels very good to conquer my fear.