Visiting the motherland for the first time.
It was the most excruciating journey, because I injured my ankle just days before with no intention of canceling my trip. It took nearly a day to fly into Seoul for a connecting flight (an additional 5.5 hours flight) to land in Saigon. Michael landed an hour before and was waiting at the airport for my arrival before we headed to our AirBnB in Da Kao where we had the most accommodating hosts Mike and Long. Not a moment went unappreciated as we dove into the roots of where our mothers and fathers grew up: the 25,000 dong mouth-watering banh mi; the intimidating traffic that never stops (hold your breath and walk through it—the motorbikes will dodge you); the endless amount of cà phê sữa đá that tricked our bodies from realizing we were twelve hours ahead of our time; and the unforgiving kindness through each connection we had with the locals. The beauty of Vietnam continued to unravel and there were countless times when I thought I could totally live here.
After browsing through hundreds of beautiful French-inspired villas, I chose this one because I wanted to experience living like a local. There were three rooms available and I opted for the one with the bathtub—for obvious reasons. I was fully equipped with Lush bath bombs to take the soaks I was deprived of in New York. A cafe and a local Vietnamese designer shop were located conveniently downstairs to satiate urgent food cravings and shopping needs.
We met Bill and friends for a day-trip to the Mekong Delta. The area highlighted a simple countryside lifestyle five hours outside of the city. Between the canals, rice paddy fields, floating market, folk music, and lush greens, the soporific pace of life was quite charming.
I tried to stay away from the touristy spots, but The Lunch Lady who was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations was highly anticipated. She serves only one specialty dish a day. Hopefully you go on a day that she makes some bún bò huế.
photos taken by Michael Anthony