HCMC Dining Guide

Saturday, May 5, 2012

H2H - the documentary

I realize I said that my wrap-up post from a few weeks back would be the last one on H2H (for new readers, that is the charity bicycle ride from Hanoi to Saigon that I took part in this year), but it was such an amazing experience that I can't help but think about it every day. Now that I've been put in charge of organizing the next iteration of H2H, it will be a major part of my next (and probably final) year in Vietnam.

One of the cyclists on the H2H ride before this year's (which actually took place in November of 2010) has created a documentary from that trip, and it is finally available online for public viewing. It's about 25 minutes long and gives a great sense of what the ride is like, with interviews with the other riders and clips of cycling action. It also gives the viewer glimpses of what daily life for locals is like, something that can be difficult to portray in words. My ride was different from this one, especially in terms of weather, but a lot of what is shown in this video resonates with me. It's a great watch.

H2H from Jeffrey Sabin-Matsumoto on Vimeo.

For even more H2H love, check out the May issue of AsiaLIFE, which is now online in PDF form: http://asialifehcmc.com/LowRes_pdfs/AL50_Pride.pdf?issuusl=ignore. My story on crashes and close calls on the ride is on page 28, and I also have pieces on 34, 42, and 50. The cover story is a good one on the LGBT community in Saigon, something you don't hear about very often.

On an unrelated note, I had a few interactions today that reminded me of why I like this place so much. I was at my usual bank branch depositing some money when one of the tellers, whose English is far better than I realized, told me that she had seen my name in Tuoi Tre newspaper.
"Oh yea, I work for them."
"Yea, I saw your name with an article (it was about Tet), and then I recognized it just now on your paperwork. Did you enjoy the Lunar New Year in Vietnam?"
"I did. I went to Phu Quoc, and it was great."
"Also, sometimes I see you jogging by the palace."
"Oh, on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai? Yea I run there sometimes."
"Yes, I drive home that way after work to get back to Go Vap district."

We chatted a bit longer, and I had no idea that all this time that I've been going to this branch that she saw me on the street somewhat regularly.

Later that afternoon I met up with some friends at Le Van Tam park in District 1. I got there first and sat down to wait. I then saw my friend Annie approaching, followed by a Vietnamese boy who was about 7 or 8 eight years old. As Annie sat down and we started talking he kind of just stood there watching us. She had brought a frisbee, and as I held it the boy looked at it curiously. Then a toddler waddled right over to me, also staring at the frisbee, so I handed it to him. He turned it over in his hands and then handed it to his dad, who told him to give it back to me. He did so, and then ambled off.

The older boy was still standing there, so I started tossing the frisbee to him and then the the three of us formed a triangle to throw it between ourselves. He was amazingly good at both catching and throwing, especially considering the fact that this was probably his first time ever throwing a frisbee. We played for a while as we tried to figure out where his parents were, and after about 15 minutes he decided to wander off elsewhere.

Two more friends soon joined Annie and I, and as we threw the frisbee around we gradually attracted more locals to our circle. At one point we had seven Vietnamese boys in a group with us - some were pretty good, others couldn't catch if there life depended on it. There wasn't much said between all of us, but that didn't really matter. We all laughed when someone missed an easy throw or accidentally beamed one way off course, and one by one the boys returned to whatever they had been doing, leaving us four foreigners to our own devices. The sun was about to set so we decided to call it a day ourselves after what had been a very enjoyable couple of hours in the park.

It's great to have days like this when you are able to forget about the frustrating aspects of living here: the traffic, the honking, the noise, the paperwork, and remember just how friendly the people are. Now it's off to Singapore until Monday afternoon!


  1. Michael,

    You sure are living a very exciting and interesting life. You travel oftens to different cities in Vietnam and also to other countries in the South East Asia. You mentioned on your earlier posts that you're heading to Singapore (second time for you right?). Also, you're planning another trip to India (will you go to different cities this time or go back to some of the same cities you went last time?).

    I would love to find out more detail about your upcoming trip to India. Do write about your experiences when you get back from India.

    My niece married to gentleman originally from Mumbai. His parents invite my hubby and I come for a visit. But I'm not sure I can handle the city. My nephew-in-law warned me that Mumbai is very polluted, extremely dirty and dusty. Also it is a very noisy place.

    Anyway, if you're planning a visit to Mumbai, I would like to read your take on the city.

    As always, thanks for taking the time to write about your trips and your daily activities in Vietnam. Keep up the fantastic work and have a wonderful trips.

    Take care,

    1. I got back from Singapore yesterday - it was actually my third time there. As for my India trip I am going to different places, and I'll be writing a post about what I'll be doing next week, so that should fill you in on the details. I'm not going to Mumbai this time, although I think I'd like to see it at some point, but I've heard that it's dirty and polluted and all of that as well - not sure if I'd like it very much. Obviously I'll be posting about the trip when I get back.

      Also thanks for the kudos on the blog, I hope you continue enjoying it!