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Watching hundreds of two wheeled vehicles flowing orderly and incessantly in and around traffic obstacles, like schools of fish, is an iconic image of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and one of the best experiences in Vietnam. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the vintage Vespa scooters once synonymous with the British Mod subculture, so I was both excited and fearful of climbing on the back seat of one and joining the Saigonese in the legendary ebb and flow of the city's fabled streets. The adventure was set to be part night city tour and part street food extravaganza and I was excited to experience Ho Chi Minh City nightlife the way locals do, all from the back of a vintage Vespa scooter.
I relaxed almost immediately as my driver/guide reassured me with his smooth maneuvers and defensive driving skills. The guides were long-time residents and knew what to see and how to see it. Throughout the night we zoomed past the famous must-see sights like the famous Post Office and Cathedral of Notre Dame and my expectation for fresh, flavorful, and delicious local food was spot-on but the best part of the whole evening was the expert and funny commentary by our Vietnamese guide, Rosie.
Our first stop was a street-side seafood restaurant with the quintessential playhouse-size plastic chairs (Asian size) to eat freshly fried/steamed food. Rosie a university student, enjoyed her job meeting foreigners from all over and sharing her food and popular culture, explaining all the different dishes and she never let us have an empty plate or glass of beer!
After my fill of prawns, scallops, mussels and even frog's legs, I hopped back on the scooter for our second stop, hoping the driver/guide didn't notice I was heavier on the back of the Vespa. We stopped at a busy restaurant with an outdoor beer-garden vibe and took a seat to be promptly served banh xeo ( crispy coconut crepes loaded with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts) and goi cuon (spring rolls). At this point I had to stop eating, even though everything was so good. When it was time to go I had just enough room to take my favorite dessert, an avocado smoothie (sinh to bo) to go. Who knew that sipping an avocado smoothie on the back of a scooter while zipping through the streets of Saigon was this girl's dream come true?
The evening ended with a night cap (or two) and some live music. I was in such a food coma that I could barely keep my eyes open dreaming of the food and zooming around on a scooter. I'm not going to lie, since this adventure I have been perusing the classified looking for a scooter. Just maybe you'll see me cruising the streets on my scooter with an avocado smoothie in hand!
Ready to hop on a scooter and explore Vietnam? Check out our Ultimate Vietnam and Cambodia adventure or I would be happy to customize an adventure for you. Want to explore Vietnam, but maybe not on the back of a scooter? No problem! Give me a call at 800.345.4453 or send me an email.
Mot, hai, ba, yo! (One, two, three, cheers!)