Every year, HKU students have what is called a reading week in the middle of October. Even though students are supposed to be “reading” or doing something academically related, for most people this is the ideal time to travel around! So, being a typical exchange student, I decided to go on a week-long trip to Vietnam and Cambodia with eight other exchange students.
Our first destination is Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam! The flight from Hong Kong to Ho Chi Minh is only two hours long, so we are able to get there really quick. Ho Chi Minh (or Saigon) is the most populous city in Vietnam and it is well known for its important role during the Vietnam war. Of course, it is named after the revolutionary Vietnamese politician Ho Chi Minh.
The first thing that really surprised us about Vietnam is how cheap it is. Our flight ticket cost less than 50 US$. The Airbnb we were staying at cost around 5 US$ per person per night. Furthermore, the average meal on a mid-range Vietnamese tavern costs a mere 2 US$. If you decide to only feed on local sandwiches known as “Banh Mi” you can spend as little as 60 cents per sandwich! Bahn Mi are one of the most famous Vietnamese foods. They look like any other sandwich that you would find in the West, but with certain minor differences. They usually contain chicken and shredded vegetables. The bread is reminiscent of French baguettes (perhaps a remnant of French colonialism of Vietnam).
Once we arrived at the Ho Chi Minh airport, we felt the extreme heat and moisture deep in our bones. Just as Hong Kong was starting to get cooler, the difference in latitude was enough to throw us back into high nineties in terms of temperature. We got into a taxi and traveled through the city in order to reach our Airbnb apartment. To our surprise, the apartment was located right at the center of the Ho Chi Minh night life district! It was loud. Really, really loud! That is because there were at least 20 different clubs within close proximity to where we lived. Yet, for some peculiar reasons the Vietnamese clubs did not only have loud music speakers inside their premises, but also outside. Meaning that if you tried to walk down the “club street” you would be going through an ocean of extremely loud noise constructively interfering to make the situation unbearable. Nevertheless, it was quite nice to stay there for a few nights.
Club street in central Ho Chi Minh City. Add at least 150 dB to get a better understanding of what you are seeing 🙂