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Drop IN: Saigon, Pt.2

The construction outside my window wakes me up early. Six a.m. comes fast here. I like this area, but it’s taken a chunk out of my budget when I know I can sleep cheaper.

I grab my Lonely Planet Vietnam that came with my first flat back in Taiwan. It says the Pha Mingu 1st District is the place for cheap dorms. I’m reluctant to leave the chill local spot for dorms, but I’ll be closer to the ONE Championship venue later that evening. It is decided.

I check out of the first place, jump on my taxi motorcycle and head to my next destination. When my taxi driver drops me off, I have an instant flash back of my first trip to Koh Son Road in Bangkok.

“Marijuana? Cocaine?” They whisper to me at every corner. Wasted foreigners stumble about. Massage girls try to lure me in their well-respected establishments with fancy perfume.

I traded the chill local vibe for this? Whatever, just go with the flow and smile.

I bounce around hostels until I find one that works with my budget. I drop off some of my gear and set out for a park to relax and clear my mind.

I’m lost looking at the trees swaying in the breeze when I’m approached by a young man named Nygun. He wants to have a conversation to practice his English. I say sure, he seems like a nice-enough kid.

Five hours later and we’re still chatting, watching some guys kick a Rattan ball back and forth. This is one of my favorite parts about traveling internationally.

I check the time. I’m supposed to meet up with Eric for the fights, so I venture out to find WiFi, because my phone isn’t unlocked. I see an email from Eric and realize the early fights are already underway. Fuck, I missed the start.

I pull up the fights and start to get sucked in, and then the WiFi at my hostel goes out. This is not one of my favorite parts about traveling internationally. I call it an early night so I can catch the free tour run by the hostel tomorrow.

The next morning I wake up, throw back my breakfast and head to the start of the tour. I enjoy the sights and learning about Vietnamese culture, but be warned: if your hostel in Saigon offers a free tour, it really means you’re giving your tour guide a free English lesson.

Afterward, the day is still young, so I devote the rest of it to food. ‘The gym is

closed until Sunday, anyway’ is my justification. The streets are empty, except for food stands spaced out every three to five meters. I notice eyes on me, but curiously, not menacingly. I still haven’t seen any other Westerners.

I order two banh mi and converse with some locals, who ask me where I came from. After sharing a few laughs and shadow boxing with some children, I go back to my room and devour my food before crashing.