One of my favourite sights in Saigon was the ever-present and acrobatic napping skills of its inhabitants. In my long ode to the city, I wrote about how there was no shortage of people sleeping in seemingly uncomfortable positions, right in the middle of the bustle and noise. I have long struggled with an inability to nap, something my mother says I developed as a toddler. Apparently the minute she would put me to sleep, I would crawl out of bed, opening the curtains to let in the afternoon light. I have not made much progress since. Until I do, I am left with my awe at the arms and legs draped over motorbikes or tucked under plastic chairs, effortless and calm.
I first noticed the xe om napping phenomenon during my first ‘season’ in Saigon, late in 2012. The driver was resting beautifully, arms behind his head, fingers interlaced and supporting his neck. His feet were perched atop the motorbike’s handlebar, crossed ever so slightly. Any discomfort the driver might have felt was completely invisible; a small trickle of drool indicated that he was well and truly asleep smack in the chaos of Saigon’s streets.
I’ve marvelled at the Southeast Asian capacity for napping anywhere before. In Myanmar, I remember a big truck full of bananas parked outside on the of the main Yangon markets, one of its drivers sleeping on a mat suspended just above the wheels. In Thailand, street food vendors would fall asleep quietly, one eye opening ever so quickly at the possibility of a sale.
But during my months in Saigon, this napping skill was taken to a whole new level. I’ve embeded Instagram photos from the last three visits to Saigon, illustrating adventures in sleeping better than words are capable of doing.
For those seeing this post via email, you’ll might need to jump through to the site by clicking on the title as Instagram photo embeds might not carry over to email distribution. (This was a problem the last time I did an Instagram photoessay).
For those who come across similar scenes on your wanders, feel free to use the #adventuresinsleeping on Instagram. I love checking it and seeing what pops up.
Though I left Vietnam at the beginning of January, writing this post has made me extremely nostalgic for the nimble, badass motorcycle drivers from streets of Saigon.
Adventures in Sleeping, Saigon Edition
Latergram from Saigon – #adventuresinsleeping, wall support edition. A photo posted by Jodi Ettenberg (@legalnomads) on
#adventuresinsleeping, park edition A photo posted by Jodi Ettenberg (@legalnomads) on
Just an everyday #adventuresinsleeping A photo posted by Jodi Ettenberg (@legalnomads) on
A new #adventuresinsleeping, the double chair version. A photo posted by Jodi Ettenberg (@legalnomads) on
This is the closest I’ve come to my own adventure in sleeping — but really, most of you just call it “nap with a cat on your chest.”
Sick days call for cuddles from Mimi. Fever still not gone but at least I have a furry companion while down for the count. A photo posted by Jodi Ettenberg (@legalnomads) on
#adventuresinsleeping, the “using cooler as support” edition, with bonus almost face plant. A photo posted by Jodi Ettenberg (@legalnomads) on
Afternoon #adventuresinsleeping as hot season is upon us. A photo posted by Jodi Ettenberg (@legalnomads) on
#adventuresinsleeping, Moto plus chair combo. A photo posted by Jodi Ettenberg (@legalnomads) on
The “Adventures in Sleeping” series I have going here is not lacking for subject matter. District 3, midday nap. A photo posted by Jodi Ettenberg (@legalnomads) on
And finally, from one of my last nights in Saigon during this past season. New Year’s Eve, chowing down on streetside snails, clams with lemongrass and chilli (and a generous dose of MSG), and talking with friends — and then we spotted this guy, oblivious to it all.
#adventuresinsleeping, side of the road, oblivious to the noise and the chaos. District 3. A photo posted by Jodi Ettenberg (@legalnomads) on
If you enjoyed this post, please consider a purchase of a typographic food map — like this food map of Vietnam — from my newly-launched Legal Nomads shop. Thank you for reading!
Next up, I’m asking for some help in the form of a hired position to help me manage the work at Legal Nomads. I’ll be doing all the writing, but I will put out a call for a location-independent part-time job to help me with the rest — coordinating the Thrillable Hours interviews (I have quite the backlog), helping with research for some of the bigger guides, and more.
Still in New Zealand (having survived my sailing course in the Bay of Islands), and heading to the South Island soon for the first time. Woohoo!