A Sudden Date in Saigon

If you love traveling and you happen to be single, I suggest you to not only use Couchsurfing to find some traveling partner but also to create an account of some online dating site and actually put some time in your itinerary to meet up and have a sudden date.

That’s what I’ve done in Ho Chi Minh City. And it was a blast!

I decided to give the online dating site a try when I landed in Hanoi for some reason: love can be found anytime and anywhere. If the online dating site is the answer, then be it.

Unfortunately, it seems that I’ll be single for awhile now. However, I didn’t regret my decision to actually meet a new guy through online dating site during my travel. It was quite a new experience, and to say the least, I really had a good time.

His name is Aaron. An American guy who was then staying in Ho Chi Minh City to learn German at Goethe-Institut.

I know, it’s quite random right? But sometimes the most random thing happened in your life is so close to the best one you’ve ever got.

Once I arrived in Hanoi, I decided to install OKCupid on my phone for the sake of looking around. Like, who knows if I’ll be reunited to my better half here in the land of Uncle Ho? Haha. That was my long-term goal. However, I was quite open to the short-term dating as in just to find someone with whom I spent my traveling time with.

And that was how I met Aaron.

I was in Hue when I set my OKC profile’s location into Ho Chi Minh City. He sent me a message commenting my profile in which I wrote that I love country music and Full House.

The first message I’ve got was that it was only a little lame to know that I love country music. In his opinion, it was unique. But definitely a little lame. And then he started asking which Full House character that I relate the most. Would it be DJ, Stephanie, or even Kimmy?

If there was one thing I’ve learned about being in an online dating site, it would be how dull a message could be with only something starts with ‘hi’ or some tacky stuff like ‘you look pretty’. Or even some sexist comment that I had to delete before going any further.

And I appreciated the fact that not only he has read my profile, but also he took some effort to actually do something about it and ask.

Long story short, he admitted that he was actually still in the States although he would be flying to Ho Chi Minh City the next day to learn German.

And I was like, “I know it sounds crazy, but you probably could have taken the course in German-speaking countries to make it more effective.”

So he started rambling about how Goethe Institut in Vietnam is waaaaay cheaper than in any German-speaking countries, although the quality is hopefully pretty much close to those in the Europe.

However, the main reason why he chose Vietnam was because he wanted to spend some time in the land of Uncle Ho so he could be half studying and half holiday as he would continue his study in Berlin next summer.

We got clicked faster than I expected as I started mumbling in German as I too was once a student in Goethe Institut. And we exchanged line IDs to text each other as OKC app on our mobile was kinda sucky.

He arrived in Saigon on the 4th of January, while I took my first step there the next day. And then we randomly planned to meet up on the 6th as it was going to be my last day in Ho Chi Minh City.

He had his intensive class from 9 to 4 everyday, so we decided to meet at a restaurant in District 1 called Baba’s Kitchen.

It’s an Indian restaurant that has become Aaron’s roommate’s favorite who happened to be Indian. So he said he’d meet me there at around 5.

I went to Baba’s Kitchen at around 5 after spending my last day in Saigon walking around Ben Tanh Market. It was a little Indian restaurant with some friendly waiters. As someone who flew quite often to countries in South Asia like Pakistan and India, the smell was quite familiar with curry-ish flavor whatsoever.

So I ordered Chicken Briyani and asked the waiter to serve it later when my friend came, as he might order something too. To my surprise, he said no problem and instead, serving me with a glass of water. So, I was like, “Wooow, pani!”

He was surprised that I knew Hindi. So I said that I got used to deal with Urdu and Hindi speakers, beside it’s easy to remember what ‘pani’ is when your passengers kept asking for it during the flight. Haha.

Aaron was a bit late as he got lost a little, not to mention that he got there by walking. So I was waiting for a bit, until he came to the restaurant.

A muddy blonde guy with blue eyes. He’s got this average body, more into skinny than chubby. Physically, he’s not really my type. But I liked the vibes when he first greeted me.

One thing you should remember if you’re interested to meet up anyone you know through online dating site: always trust the vibes, because energy never lies. 🙂

So he asked whether I wanted to find some place else to eat, although I told him that I was waiting for quite a bit at the restaurant and I ordered Chicken Briyani anyway. And he was like, “No problem, I have no restriction about food anyway.” So he chose Chicken Dragon.

We had dinner in Baba’s Kitchen, and it was a pleasant meal as the waiters were all so friendly and they couldn’t stop refilling our glass with water to the point I felt a little bit guilty. Everytime I had a flight to India or Pakistan, I was always grumpy everytime the passengers kept asking for water. And there I was, full with water served everytime my glass was empty.

After dinner, we decided to go local and have Ca PheSua Da in some coffee shop nearby while talking about some random stuff.

He used to teach English in South Korea and Japan. He was in Seoul for 3 years, and then moved to Nagoya although it was only for 6 months. He is going to continue his Master’s degree in Berlin next summer and therefore he’s studying German in Vietnam.

He’s always wanted to live in Europe. Basically anything but USA. He’s been in Asia for years, and when he finally got a chance to live in Europe, he wanted to explore more of Asia before he leaves to Germany by living in Vietnam. And everything is cheap in Vietnam, so it’s kind of a win-win for him.

His German is very basic, and I even helped him with some of his Hausaufgabe. He told me that his teacher kept saying something in German that he didn’t understand what it was.

“From her gesture, it’s like by the way… But I don’t even know how to pronounce it.” He said.

Ubrigenz? Nein. Zum beispiel? Ja!

So I told him that the meaning of it is ‘for example’. So the teacher said that to give an example of one thing.

“Thank you, it’s good to know that your German is better mine!” He said.

And then he told me that he loved traveling, although he didn’t really like anything touristy. He started telling me a story about how he’s been to Kuala Lumpur yet he’s never been to the Twin Tower. So I was like, “You’re the one who’s been everywhere but not quite there yet.” And he laughed.

After finishing our Vietnamese coffee, we just wandered around District 1 complaining about how crowded it was with tourists. We introverts tend to nag when it’s full of people, but being alone together just feels better than anything.

We found a book cafe in the city of Saigon, and he asked me if I mind to get there to take a look. It’s a book cafe, of course I would love to. Even if he didn’t ask, I would probably ask myself!

As it turned out, there was nothing there and he said that he could always come back later. It was a good thing though that he could find it so now he knows that there’s a book cafe he could visit next time. And then he asked me whether there’s anything I would like to do since it was my last night in Saigon.

Nevertheless, I told him that I wanted to try banh mi. Banh mi is like Vietnamese sandwich, something like baguette. Max once told me that banh mi in Saigon is the best, it’s even better sex. What the heck? Haha. And that’s exactly why I was kinda disappointed that I never really had any good banh mi during my travel in Vietnam.

Aaron said that there was one good banh mi that he had yesterday, it was on the way to Goethe Institut so he asked me if I would like to walk further to grab some. So I said yes!

The stall was nothing special, they didn’t even have any table as the banh mi was only for take-away. As we passed a park on our way to walk around Saigon, I asked him how about we eat the banh mi in the park just so we could make fun of people around. And he was like, “Yeah, okay!”

And there we were, eating the best bahn mi in the world!

So I told him that now I understood how Max once told me it was better than sex. Hahaha. And then I asked him what’s with the herbs, as I’ve never tasted anything like that in Indonesian food. I didn’t even know what it’s called.

He said that it’s called polyander in English. Oh, you English teacher! Hahaha.

And then we took like one minute silence to appreciate how good the banh mi was. Half shaking, I told him how good the bacon was. In which he agreed.

And he asked me a random question, “Now that you’ve also traveled some parts of the world, what kind of food that you like the most? The one that you hardly find in Indonesia?”

So I told him about midiye, the stuffed mussels with rice, served with lemon that had become my favorite food when I was in Turkey. So I started telling him a story how the best midiye in Izmir was only 5-minutes walking distance from the dorm that I used to stay for the summer course in 2010. It was close to the sea side that made it even more delicious.

He’s originally from Oregon, however he lived in LA for quite some time and then he said he was considered himself lucky as in LA, as they could find almost everything in the city of Angels whatever. Even Indonesian restaurants!

However, the thing he always misses the most is Mexican food in LA as it was the best. And so far, he has never found any better Mexican food than the one in LA.

We had the conversation while watching people passed by. Some teenagers even played badminton in front of us, and I told him I was once a fair badminton player when I was in junior high. I was the runner up of mixed double badminton at the school fair back then. So we started talking about sports.

He told me that as an American, badminton wasn’t really big in the US. Instead, he watches American football and baseball when he grew up. So I started rambling about how it is called football when it’s more anything but foot used for the sport. I didn’t even understand what’s the difference between American football, rugby and cricket because those sports are not really popular in Indonesia.

So we spent some time that night to discuss about sports. He started telling me stories about how the risks are higher for American football athletes, as rugby players are more careful with less of equipment when it comes to physical contact with the other players. But with the equipment and whatnot, they could do anything they wanted when it was in fact more dangerous for their safety.

As for cricket, it’s a total different sport as it’s used baseball bat in the game. Totally different with American football and rugby. So I told him, it’s hard to imagine when I’ve never seen a game my whole life. Three of them. Haha.

And then I started telling him I’m more a football fan. Or soccer for you ‘Muricans!

He laughed and said that it’s not like he doesn’t care anything about soccer, if it would help, he knew Cristiano Ronaldo. And he started rambling about how girls think he’s hot, so I told him I think he’s not that hot. Why?

And then I told him about Matteo Brighi, the football player I’ve been obsessed with since I was 11. His response?

“Matteo Brighi? Hmmm. That does sound so Italian! Reminds me of spaghetti.”

It was so nice to have someone to talk to. I’m glad that I got this sudden date in the early of 2016. The real date was unnecessary, but it had been quite some time since the last time I had a proper date. So when I finally got some time to go out with a nice guy, the one who could talk to me about anything, it was so great and I totally had a good time.

Since we got to know each other from OKC, he asked me if I often meet some random guy through OKC. I told him it was actually my first time as in Indonesia, it’s not really common to meet up through online dating site. He told me that it’s quite normal to meet people through OKC in the States. How else we could meet other people outside our routine?

And I told him that we Indonesians tend to meet people through mutual friends. Which sounds kinda classic from his side.

Suddenly the lights in the park was off, we were sitting on the bench wondering if this park had curfew. So I was like, “I’m staying at some friend’s through couchsurfing, I think I need to go home and start to pack.”

Before we knew it, we kissed each other. That made it my first public kiss. A soft kiss in the park, smelling like garlic from banh mi that we had just eaten. Haha.

I ordered a grabbike, and told him about this app. This app is going to useful during his time in Saigon. And he was like, “So that was it? Oh, OKCupid you heartbreaker you…”

We had a good time. But I’m glad it’s not just a one-night stand. It was more than that. It was the time when we had a pleasant time together walking around the city, complaining about tourists when we both were also tourists. It was the good thing about sitting on the bench in the park talking about food. It was a genuine date. Probably the most genuine one that I have had in the past 5 years. And it was nice.

The next day, not only I have recharged my power to get back to work, but also the belief of genuine dating. After the sudden date, one thing that I’ve got is that it’s possible to have a fling once or twice. You deserve it to stay believing in the chance of love.

After all, love can be found anywhere.

If it has to be found only for a few hours by walking some touristy area, then be it.

It will take you all to the love you’ve been searching forever anyway.

-Marya The BeauTraveler-

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