Ho Chi Minh City is a place I used to call home. It was a home for almost one year or to be exact, eleven months, two weeks and a few days.
As a woman who grew up and worked in a cosmopolitan city like Jakarta, HCMC is much smaller, simpler and has less traffic. However, the number of motorcycles and how the motorcyclists drive in HCMC beats the traffic in my hometown!
Naturally, after settling down in HCMC, I started looking for new friends. By the law of attraction, I attracted friends with similar interests. Through an expat blog, someone found me. We started chatting just like as we know each other for years. She came from the same city as mine, Jakarta. Our friendship expanded as we met another woman who is also from Jakarta. Then later, another Indonesian woman joined us.
Our passion was to explore the city, with hunting for good coffee and cakes in particular. Cupcakes, which was trending in those days, became our main interest.
I found out about L’Usine on Google. Previously a warehouse, it is located at the second floor of an old French colonial building on Dong Khoi Street. In French, L’Usine also means factory.
Since then, I always wanted to bring friends there. Then my friends would bring their other friends and so on. My girlfriends and I fell in love with this café. The coffee, cupcakes and the chats are the best combination to have.
L’Usine was very often our weekend destination. One of the most memorable Sunday afternoon was when the four of us got together in one table just to chat. The conversation created a strong bonding among us. It is sisterhood among Indonesian girls who were away from home. We knew each other only a few months, but through conversation we exchanged experiences.
Our topics revolved around love and career. Listening to each other’s stories, we learned about love, life and dreams.
Life changes. As the work assignment finished, one by one had to leave HCMC. Saying good-byes and listening to their mixed emotions leaving the city was not easy.
When I traveled to HCMC a year later, visiting L’Usine was an obligation. The cafe already expanded by opening another branch on Le Loi. The one on Dong Khoi remains my favourite. Even though I have had many coffee and cupcakes at other places in the world and some of them are much better, the cappuccino and the cakes at L’Usine taste different. They might not the best coffee and cake in the world, but they are the sweetest in my heart.
Two years after all of us left HCMC, we reunited in Jakarta. We talked about our memories in HCMC, coffee, L’Usine, how our friendship built and how grateful we are that it remains until today.
Eve is a traveler and blogger who is inspired by cultures, places and people. As much as she enjoyed corporate life, she took the courage to begin her new life journey to pursue her dream as travel writer. She is currently living in Amsterdam after spending four years in Hong Kong and Vietnam. She enjoys writing about inspiration, lifestyle, travel but not quite as much as she enjoys eating food while traveling. You can follow her on Twitter @ekrist, Instagram ekrist, or her blog “V in Vondelpark”: http://v-in-v.blogspot.com/