We arrived in Ho Chi Minh City on a rainy Monday May 23rd. We booked apartment tours with an awesome real estate company that caters to foreigners, drank some amazing coffee, and hung out with Obama. Being in the same city as him totally counts as hanging out, right? To say that we had any expectations of Saigon, the country of Vietnam, or even of our own hotel, would be a straight up lie. We had zero expectations of what the city would bring. Ultimately this worked in our favour because we packed up after a week, booked our flights, and got the hell out of dodge. We’ve since settled in the beautiful beachside city of Da Nang, Vietnam for the next 3-4 months.
Wait, What Happened?
It turns out that when the Universe has a message for you, you have no choice but to listen. Despite having zero expectations when we arrived in Saigon we were quickly disappointed with our hotel room at The Luxe Hotel. We were situated on the 10th floor so we were right beneath machinery that created a deep, pulsating hum and depending on where you stood in the room the hum would actually grow with intensity. It was actually painful in some areas. We quickly got the issue sorted with hotel management and settled into a new room on the 6th floor. Other than that initial bump in the road, the hotel experience was quite enjoyable. You can read more about my hotel review here.
Later that night we had some unbelievable pho soup for the first time, heard a random drunk guy barf is face off in a cafe bathroom, then we made our appointments for the next day. We would go look at rental units with an agency called Place in Saigon. Brian, the owner, picked us up on his motorcycle, it was an amazing black Honda which I got to ride on. Jonathan rode with his associate on the scooter. I wouldn’t have been too worried, if it wasn’t for the fact that I was wearing a very thin dress that completely exposed my legs and my arms. Let’s just say that for the first time in my life I unironically thought Jesus, take the wheel! There were a few times when we hit the highway that I gripped Brian’s shoulders so tightly I thought I was hurting him. Brian and his team showed us about 8 different apartments in a one-week period and were so kind. For 4 days they gave us an amazing tour around Saigon on the backs of their scooters, but sadly, we were so frustrated and heartbroken when we end up losing out on the unit we really liked.
What was so heartbreaking about losing that unit wasn’t so much that we lost the unit, but that we had wrongly assumed that other units like that one would be available. We called at noon on the Wednesday to reserve, but someone beat us to the punch that morning. We spent the next day looking at apartments in new neighbourhoods and wondering if they would be a fit for us. Then came an opportunity to stay and a small studio condo popped up and we seriously considered it. Jonathan and I would have been living on top of each other and we would have had to carefully get out of bed every morning because we would have either fallen off the platform or hit our head on the ceiling. The idea with the studio was that we would live in the studio for one month until one of the units at the building we really became vacant. That night we both realized we had no obligation to stay in a place that wasn’t working.
We were trying so hard to fit into the Saigon experience, but for some reason or another, it didn’t feel right. We even tried working at a very prominent and cool co-working space, Dreamplex (the day after Obama!), and we just couldn’t get in the groove there either. It wasn’t until Thursday night when Jonathan and I were so upset, laying in our hotel room that we decided to consider another solution. We realize that we had absolutely no reason to stay in Saigon if it wasn’t working. Our friends in the #Nomad and Dynamite Circle communities loved and lived in Saigon that it felt like we were missing something, but after so many let-downs in various ways it really felt liberating to make the choice. After a few recommendations and with even less information we booked the tickets for Da Nang, Vietnam. We had also forfeited the idea of booking a hotel when we arrived, instead opting to meet with the realtor as soon as we got off the plane. We met her in a hotel lobby where she picked us up, flagged a taxi for us and we saw two different units.
Warning: I don’t recommend doing that. Get a hotel, slow down, sleep on it. We were already heavily stressed out, and by adding even more pressure on ourselves to pick a new apartment, THAT day, was fuel for a relationship fire. Luckily this story has a happy ending.
Both units were quite nice, new construction, and very close to the beach. The best part about both units was the price: They were both the same price of $600USD ($725CAD). We chose the apartment unit that had faster internet, nicer furnishings, is steps to the beach, and had more than enough space for us to buy two desks and ergonomic chairs. On the next update I’ll post pics of our home and office space. It’s now been about a week since our hurried errands and the frantic pace of that first stressful week in Saigon but now that we’ve been here in Da Nang we’ve gotten back into the swing of things and work has been going really well. It also turns out we have a ton of cafes close to us. I’m really excited for what the next four months have in store for us and this wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t follow our guts and go with the flow.
Blog note: This post was written primarily using Google Docs Voice typing feature. I wanted to give it a try because my hands were hurting today from a full day of work and I wanted to give my right hand to break. I’m actually really impressed with it. Though it does make for an awkward first time. I like to think that when I’m writing my words come out more fluidly than me talking to a wall. This is still pretty cool though.