Flying business class entails to better food and more space for one’s legs, but apparently not better service – as an upgraded customer one is still treated like second class, the stewardesses were not very friendly and ignored us most of the time. Ok, we looked like we had been sleeping at the airport, but still…

Upon arrival in Ho Chi Minh City airport we went straight over to the counter to collect our preordered visa. Standing in line waiting a guy approached us, asking if we were German, and if we could share a ride into town after getting the visa. We talked a bit, and it soon was clear that neither Anne nor I liked him – he had this “been there done that” bragging way of talking that people use to show off, but not to have a mutually interested conversation. Besides, as it turned out, he had just finished school and was on a couple of month trip in the pacific region, having his mother as a secretary to bail him out if trouble. So after sharing the ride into the backpacker quarter where our hotel was located and passing the time with small talk, which he filled very easily with stories about all the cool things he had done, we said goodbye without even introducing our names – he was just so full of himself and such annoying company.

Our hotel was a small place, located on De Tham 253. The room on the top floor was tiny, with the bed barely able to squeeze in, but it had air-conditioning – not being used to the hot and humid climate yet that felt like heaven. The bathroom was less than 2 m², and was inhabited by a cockroach, which I scared out of the drain by flooding the bathroom floor after quickly hand washing some small things we hadn’t want to pass on to laundry. (Quick intermezzo: South East Asian plumbing solutions and installations are sometimes quite creative – very popular are sinks and washing basins that have an outlet directly on the floor instead of a pipe leading into the drain).   I’m not sure who was more surprised, the cockroach or I, but as it sat in the corner shaking off the water, I trapped it under a plastic toothbrush cup. After showering off the dirty feeling of two days airport living, Anne and I went out to see the city and get some Vietnamese food.
Apparently we had a very lucky timing – it was independence day, a national holiday, as well as 40 year aniversary, and all of HCMC (it seemed) was out on scooters. So our first try at navigating Ho Chi Minh City traffic as a pedestrian was a very intense experience, crossing streets with endless hordes of motorcycles, manned with one, two or up to five people – whole family sandwiches. We first walked around the backpacker quarter, then up Le Loi because Lonely Planet had suggested a great place to eat Pho, the traditional Vietnamese soup. After a long walk we finally reached our destination, enjoying a meal of good ( but not outstanding, compared to the recommendation actually disappointing) Pho in a very local environment with only Vietnamese customers – after the crowds of beer tourists in the backpacker quarter a welcome change. Back we took a cab, feeling really tired after this long day.