Peach: If you never stayed in a luxury apartment with a rooftop infinity pool then it is something I strongly recommend doing. For just £9 each a night we rented (from Air B&B) a private room in a modern serviced luxury apartment complex, 2 minutes walk from District 1 of Ho Chi Minh city (the place to be apparently). We arrived at the airport in Ho Chi Minh much later than planned, owing to the last minute flight time change which set us back about 8 hours. Our host had already left for work so sent us some instructions on where to find the key and let ourselves in (to what was quite likely to be the poshest place we will stay in on this entire trip).
Jethro: Did we mention that the place had a rooftop infinity pool, on the 25th floor?,”
We let ourselves in to the luxury apartment and got excited about the view (as we were on the 18th floor) before heading out again to see what Ho Chin Minh could offer us for dinner. It’s really strange (maybe it shouldn’t be, but it is) that tofu here is often accompanied by meat so to go with my carrot smoothie I had tofu stuffed with miscellaneous meat (potentially pork but who knows) while Jethro opted for the most delicious fish in red coloured sauce I think I have ever had (apart from something similar that Mother Peach cooks of course).
Jethro: Our need to cook food for ourselves had been quietly growing for the last 6 weeks. When street food is soo cheap and soo tasty, accommodation doesn’t tend to have any cooking facilities. Finally in an apartment, we got to make a tasty breakfast omelette using our tiny pots of carefully mixed spices we had been carrying unused since day one. We met the previously invisible host and owner of the apartment, Phuong. She scurried out from hiding in her bedroom to ask how we managed to get the hob working (she had been using a little electric hob instead of her actual cooker) and then disappeared again. Fleeting glimpses of this near mythical host numbered perhaps 4 or 5 during our whole stay. It meant we had the whole living room area to ourselves 24/7, but I felt bad. We did some dishes for her before we left and she reviewed us a “very respectful” couple.
As we may have mentioned, the apartment building has an infinity pool on the rooftop. We spent most of our time up here, where it was always either quiet or empty (most people in the building seemed to be well-off professionals, who weren’t daytime lazing by the pool often!). We also made use of the private gym on the ground floor when we were weren’t feeling lazy.
Peach: During one of our walks through the city we came across a ‘chocolate box’ of cafes in an old apartment building (sadly soon to be demolished). From the outside we decided on a couple of nice looking cafes to go and see. After checking out a few menus and deciding on which ones looked quirky and were facing the front (with the balcony seating) we decided on a place called ‘8ielts’, which had loads of plants and baubles hanging on the balcony.
In hindsight it’s potentially wrong to choose somewhere based solely on its view. 8ielts was brilliant but when we returned to the apartment block on another occasion we followed our stomachs instead and ate the most exciting and delious bowl of goodness at a Poke cafe with no view whatsoever. It was a bit like a diy food bowl (with rice and sashimi and veggies) but the cafe staff assemble it and suggest things that go well.
One of the things I most enjoyed about Ho Chi Minh was going out drinks and a good catching up chat with my old friend and uni housemate Justin who now teaches English in the city. We met on the edge of the main backpacker road with loads of bars and street food stands and street entertainers (fire breathers) and chatted and drank until about 2:30am (quite late considering the early start). The fire breathers were so close to the bar that even from the balcony we could feel the warmth from the fire. It didn’t escape our attention that they were breathing fire right underneath a load of electricity cables…
The bed in the apartment was the most comfortable bed I have slept in on this trip and the rooftop pool was spectacular but we had been researching south Thailand (in particular the islands) so after just a few of days we took a flight to Southern Thailand where we would come across some very special places indeed…