Vietnam: Week One

The past week has flown by! Since I landed it's been a wonderful mix of catching up with friends and family both in Saigon and Rach Gia. Linh and I have worked out that we have thus far travelled by bus, taxi, private car, motorbike and ferry. This evening we will travel by plane up to Da Nang; the only vehicles left to ride would be a bicycle and train ;-)

Although I grew up with Vietnamese food and have tried many dishes throughout the years, Australia does not have the full range of what is on offer here. So it's been great fun learning and re-learning names of dishes and regional specialties.

Top left and clockwise: cockle shells, flower blossoms, Vietnamese baguette, chicken noodles for breakfast, clams, Viet dessert, savoury coconut tarts, stewed fish and me in the centre with the biggest selection of edible jungle leaves that I have ever seen!

Top left and clockwise: cockle shells, flower blossoms, Vietnamese baguette, chicken noodles for breakfast, clams, Viet dessert, savoury coconut tarts, stewed fish and me in the centre with the biggest selection of edible jungle leaves that I have ever seen!

Other than food, family and friends, another reason for coming here was to try and get our birth certificates sorted out. I am told that I did have one, once upon a time, whereas Linh never had one at all! We'd therefore been planning this activity for a while, each time saying 'the next time we go to Vietnam together, we should get it done'.

In order to apply for our certificates, we had to travel to our birth place of Rach Gia which is 250 kms (or a 5.5 hour bus ride) from Saigon. It's a provincial city located on the eastern coast of the Gulf of Thailand and doesn't have much in terms of tourism other than being a ferry wharf for boats to Phu Quoc or Kien Hai islands. We have a few uncles and aunts who live there and other than visitng with them, it's not the kind of place you want to spend more time than you absolutely have to in the sweltering heat.

Bai Sao Beach, Phu Quoc Island

Bai Sao Beach, Phu Quoc Island

We therefore tried to get there as soon as we could after meeting up in Saigon and after arriving at 5:30h on the Friday, we were at the Bureau of Births, Deaths and Marriages by 9:00h. After spending a relatively short time filling out the required paperwork (1.5 hours) and a small 'envelope of encouragement', we left for the island of Phu Quoc for the weeeknd. We ferried back to the mainland yesterday morning and by 14:30h, received our official birth certificates. The processing of our applications took only 2 and a half working days which is in fact quite speedy for these guys!

Me with my very official Vietnamese birth certificate :-)

Me with my very official Vietnamese birth certificate :-)

Having accomplished our goal, we bussed back to Saigon this morning and will fly to Da Nang in the evening. From Da Nang, we'll start our slow southerly journey along the coastline back towards Saigon. This month is hot and humid with the temperature currently reading 33 degrees Celcius while the 'Feels Like' number on my phone reads 46... I'm melting!