This summer, I said goodbye to some extraordinary friends. Because we come from different corners of the world, it is impossible to predict when and where we might meet again. However, after only two months, I found myself booking a plane ticket to Vietnam to meet one of these friends, Emily.
After leaving Japan, Emily, an aspiring photographer, packed a backpack full of camera gear and a shirt or two and started traveling. For eight months, she will travel throughout Asia. During her travels, I have no doubt that she will have the time of her life and find the beauty in other cultures and people through her photography. I am so grateful that I was able to meet her for nine days. Together we explored the streets of Ho Chi Minh City and the beaches of Phu Quoc Island. Emily has given me permission to use her photos in this blog post. On her photography blog, “Imagine,” Emily shares her passion for taking photos.
Ho Chi Minh City is full of energy. This energy is simultaneously chaotic and relaxed. There are endless parks scattered throughout the city where people lounge on benches, jog through crowds and play a Vietnamese version of hacky sack on the grass. On the streets, one can relax while drinking a beer or getting a haircut while also being hassled to buy three pairs of fake Ray-Ban sunglasses and ride in a rickshaw.
Further, the streets buzz with the sounds of motorcycles. After living in Japan and being forbidden to cross even a country meadow without a green light, crossing the street in Saigon was terrifying. Emily had to hold my hand. Seriously. However, after a few days, I realized that the chaos was quite organized. The traffic, the locals and the tourists blend together and everything just works.
The evening atmosphere was by far my favorite aspect of the city. Restaurants and bars line the streets and all have outdoor seating. Young and old people alike partake in this nighttime community. Therefore, naturally, Emily and I did more than our fair share of eating, drinking and people-watching. For the few evenings we were in the city, we always stopped under the same tent and sat in the same picnic chairs where the lovely woman pictured above served us cold beer and a warm smile. Under her tent, we were able to watch the busy streets of Saigon while catching up on the past two months and looking forward to whatever awaits us in the future.