I can’t remember the first time I’ve been to Saigon – for sure it’s been more than a decade ago. It was a spur of the moment trip with my my friend Pao. He saw a Piso (one peso) fare promo by Cebu Pacific Air and he booked us round trip tickets in a heartbeat. We got there around 3 in the morning, had a quick snooze in our hotel, and headed off for a full day’s worth of exploring by foot. That trip was a whirlwind (we left the next day) and was pre-smart phones, so I don’t even know where I placed the SD card housing my handful of photos. All I remember is the Notre Dame Cathedral and the French architecture Saigon Post Office.
So when my sister and our friend found the AirBnB Online Experience called “Saigon History…A Bittersweet Ending” by hosts Spring and Hieu, I readily went for it.
During the online experience, we were given a closer look at the local lifestyle in Saigon: post-wedding traditions, an old Communist apartment complex, transportation (motorbikes!), street food, the local market, and the neighborhood alleys. My mind wandered back to our recent trip to Hanoi when I saw the motorbikes and the market. I suddenly craved the Vietnames food that to date, I have not found anything close to its taste here in Manila.
In the online experience, we learned about the 1968 Tet Offensive. Our hosts also brought us to a cafe, and my mind wandered back to the egg coffee we enjoyed back in December (which now seems ages ago). What’s unique about the cafe in Saigon is that its basement used to serve as a bunker. I’m amazed at how the small opening was discretely hidden and walking through the bunker I imagine how surreal it must be in person.
Thanks to these online experiences I still manage to explore and meet new people. I can’t wait to find and join the next one!