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Being a Digital Nomad in Ho Chi Minh City

I wasn’t really sure what to call this post because even though it is true on some days, I don’t really call myself a digital nomad. That being said, I do take on remote freelance work sometimes and if I do it when I’m travelling, then I guess I am, for all intensive purpose, a digital nomad.

Whilst I was happy to be 'unemployed' and traveling full time when I was in Asia, having the option to take a few hours out from my day to sit down and top up my travel money is something I will always be greatful that I can do. Not only is the money a plus; but working online also keeps my mind active and was great for filling any boring gaps I had.

Heres what day as a backpacking digital nomad typically looked like for me.
Ho Chi Minh City ended up being the last stop on my Asian adventure whilst I waited around for my visa to come through so I was there for three weeks in total, by the end of it I knew the city like the back of my hand, I knew exactly where I was going most of the time; no need for sat navs. It’s not somewhere that people stay for too long because it's pretty intense but I really did love the city - it’s hot and sticky, loud, bustling and there are motorbikes absolutely everywhere but that’s what I’m all about, I’d pick a big foreign city over the beach any day.

Well and truly embracking backpacker life and not knowing how long I'd have to wait for my visa, I booked myself into the cheapest room that I could find; a 16 bed dorm at a party hostel called The Hangout; and I really enjoyed my time there. It cost £4 per night which included breakfast and two mixed drinks - talk about value for money. Plus the bigger, the better - more beds means more opportunities to make friends (and to find someone who was travelling with a pair of straighteners.) 

Waking up at around 8am I'd usually be the first one out of bed. Saigon is magical in the morning, for such a ridiculously loud and fast paced city, the early morning was when I found it most authentic, I  loved wandering through the streets as the stall holders set up their markets.
The life of Vietnam is hidden in the alleyways and it's where I spent most of my time. One morning when I first arrived, I went for a wander and found a little gem that I went back to every single day until I left. What looked like just another dingy smoothie place, where the blenders were held together with elastic bands turned out to be Saigon’s best kept secret. 

I couldn’t start my day without a visit and I’d spend a half hour just sat there drinking my smoothie and watching life go by around me. I switched between two flavours, Milo (chocolate) and banana or an mango and passionfruit, both equally delicious and 25k (70p) each. More often than not I'd get through three smoothies a day.
After that it starts to get really hot and sticky and a bit crazy out on the streets so with an hour that needed filling and in search of some more morning calm, I headed to the gym. I found a great one at The Luna Hotel overlooking the backpacker street which cost me a grand total of 70K (3.70) pay as you go. It was also where I showered because towels were free there and they weren't at the hostel. lol backpacker life.

Whilst breakfast was the most delicious meal of the day, lunch was my best bargain of the day. I always try to eat where there are locals so having sat down surrounded by Vietnamese people and ordered some chicken which cost 25k (70p again) I was amazed when I was brought not only the chicken that I had ordered, but a side of rice, some green veg, a bowl of soup and an iced tea all included in the price.
After lunch, I had no more excuses left to avoid doing some work so that’s when I finally sat down to do some. Usually I’d head to the hostel to do it because everyone was still asleep and it was the quietest place. It also had air con, toilets and plugs so it was just an easy, free option.

By 3 or 4pm, people started to emerge and it’d be time to finish up work and just enjoy being a backpacker. Some days I went off to explore with friends; manicures, sky bars, markets. Others, someone would sit down in front of me with a pack of cards and we’d just mess around for a few hours.
Whatever adventure we decided to go on usually ended up with us agreeing that we needed to go back to the hostel for a nap. People would be coming and going at different hours all throught the night but you could be sure that if you wanted to get some proper rest, the best time to do it would be early evening becasue everyone would be returning from day trips and preparing for an evening of partying.
The evenings began at 8pm when the free drinks started and finished at all sorts of different times depending on the night and the crowd. Some nights we'd just stay at the hostel bar and others we'd head out to the club's. Or sometimes I just went to the gym. Either way though, I was always excited to head home because it meant I had to walk through Bui Vien Street (backpacker street) which was where all the street food was at. More often than not I'd sit down at a tiny table and order myself a midnight feast. I had street food for every single meal after Jonny left because we didn't eat any while he was there; he was just too big for the seats.
After that it was time to head back to the room so see what awaited me there. Sometimes that would be the end of my night and I'd be able to get into bed and go to sleep. Sometimes I'd get back to find the whole room having a deep meaningful chat over a pizza at 2am.

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