30 November 2010

Ho Chi Minh City | Episode 02 | Intro Part 2

Location: Asia » Vietnam » Ho Chi Minh City

Xin cháo!

It’s a Vietnamese word. Mean HELLO in English.

This entry is the continuation from my Ho Chi Minh | Vietnam | Part 1

1.    Anyway, the next place we went was the WAR MUSEUM. Actually the official name for that is “WAR REMNANTS MUSEUM”. It just situated next and near to the Reunification Palace.

2.    We try to enter this museum for the 2nd day, but when we arrived there, the museum is closed for lunch. So please take note here, this museum will open start from 7.30am till noon. And will open again after 1.30PM until 4.30PM. It closed on every Monday! Take note here!! Monday no war!

3.    For the entry, there are no free things in this world. 15K dong for the museum entry. Just make sure you got your DONG. (Vietnam's currency!)

4.    Outside of the museum you can see a lot of war transportion replica. I do not know whether it is real or not. Just posed for the photo should be OK. If you really interested with museum, maybe you can get a guide. Or you just buy a guide book.

5.    Enter the museum. Only 1 thing on my mind. HOT HOT HOT. Too many people, no air-conditioning!. Just ready your singlet or sleeveless if you are planning to visit this museum

6.    HUGE!... If you really like the museum, you can read a whole article there. Like me, no time for that. Sorry~ Time consuming. The time is Titanium (Gold is so year 2000!)

7.    The next journey was a City Museum. I just guess it’s a city museum. I kinda forgot what is this building. But, we didn’t enter the building. Just walking outside the gate. The design was classic! I like it so much.

8.    Next, of course as a Muslim, you will not forget to visit the Central Mosque. We quite surprise that we met and talk with Vietnam Malay there. He can speak Malay!! But maybe a little bit weird. It sound like P-Ramlee’s movies. But it was nice to meet Malay & local Muslim there. He suggested a Muslim restaurant behind the Mosque.

9.    We took the suggestion to have our lunch at the restaurant behind the Mosque. It is HALAL. And I think they also can speak MALAY. But unfortunately, we thought the Muslim will help each other, but the charge was a little bit overpriced. Hurmmm….. They know we are outsider! Consider I took only a little bit food!

10.    Next, we just walk and walk using our instinct. The best part was we didn’t really have any maps. Just walk and walk. Now I remember one song, “As we walk to the left, As we walk to the right, as we walk as we walk as we walk all day… “ then I forgot the lyric!. And we found the Octo Beer Fest sculpture. To who doesn't have any idea about the beerfest, then google it!

11.    We found souvenier handicraft shop. Most of the shops selling mini ship replica. Now it reminds me my job as an marine engineer. Sorry, not interested with the replica! Because I live on it for 6 months. But on a modern ship. Of course the replica is classic and it was a “TONGKANG” ship. Ohw, I don’t know what that ship called in English.

12.    Louis Vuitton anyone?.. In Kuala Lumpur, if you want to shop at LV, you need to go to Pavillion with a perfect look (So, you can impress the sale assistant, if not the sale assistant will look as you don’t have a money). But in HCMC, in just on the street!!.. Maybe after they shop for a vegetables and fish then they also can stop at LV!... cool!!

13.    Vietnamese are quite patriotic with their country. It is good!. Because you can see their flag everywhere in the city!

14.    There are a lot of shopping complex in the HCMC. But we try to skip visiting shopping complex because we had set our mind that this is not a shopping vacation! There were a lot of places to visit. You don’t want to add the weight of your backpack right? But, I was proud of myself I can control myself. I am a shopaholic back at my home.

15.    Vietnam COFFEE!.. Believe it or not, we are quite addicted with Vietnam Coffee. So YUMMY! Seriously delicious like I never taste it before. I remembered 1 night, we went for a COFFEE-STALL-HOPING. By one stall to another… it was about 5 cups of ice coffees I drank on that night. But, still I can get a good night sleep!

16.    Just walk far away where you can’t find any tourist at all. Then you are save from get OVERPRICES COFFEE. In the photo, this stall quite far, then the auntie (stall owner) do not speak ENGLISH. I look at the Phrase Book, I try to pronounced it correctly then she shooked her head. OhW! Success.  RECOMMEND: COFFEE+MILK+ICE… in Malaysia we called it ICE COFFEE… without MILK we called it ICE-COFFEE-O, which “O” mean ZERO or EMPTY (Only Coffee and Sugar).

17.    Seriously, Vietnam Coffee was so COFFEELICIOUS! I brought I pack of Viet Coffee Powder for my parents! Yay! Still, craving for Viet Coffee Now!

18.    The traffic was crazy in HCMC. This is because of the population of the city. You know, to cross the street in HCMC is a big challage for you here! Seriously.

19.    You want to cross safely? I got a tip for you. When you see the traffic, DON’T STOP! JUST CROSS IT!!! NO ONE will hit you!!... It been proved by us. I cross the street with my eyes CLOSED! No Kidding here. I was Save! No worries. Remember, Just cross the road!! But if you are geting hit, do not blame me OK!  

20.    For the 2nd and 3rd night in HCMC, we stayed with my Couchsurfing’s friend, Kha Le. He is a medical student. We stayed at his empty 3stories house!. Far away from town. We when there by bus. This was my 2nd couchsurfing experienced. You know about Couchsurfing? No? Nevermind, I will explain it in other entry maybe next time.

21.    Staying in his house, not only us. He also hosted 1 guy from France, Laurent and 1 guy from Cambodia, Psith. Then, in Phnom Penh we surfed at Psith’s crib. On the 3rd night, it was Laurent’s birthday and Kha manage to make a celebration for Laurent. Laurent just went back from New Zealand. He was woofing in New Zealand for 6months and he inspired me to travel to NZ!

22.    Kha had prepared the dinner for us. He was quite respectful with us (Muslim). So the dinner, just vegetables and seafood! Kha told us this meal was a signature dish for Vietnamese….

23.    It’s a fish soup. Then we separated the fish from the soup because we just need the fish meat.

24.    Like you can see, actually, the white round skin on my hand, it was HARD. Then, we splashed or put some water at the surface, it become very soft. (Like “POPIAH” – Malay traditional food). After it soft, we put the fish and noodles. (Not noodle I think, hurm… the one always we put in the soup, like a white hair, what we called it?)

25.    Then, fold the white thing. Then ready to eat. DELICIOUS!!!!

 On the 4th day, we catch the bus (SORYA Transport) to go to SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA, 9 hours trip. In my upcoming entry.
Ho Chi Minh City! Watch out, I will be back!

28 November 2010

Ho Chi Minh City | Episode 01 | Intro Part 1

Location: Asia » Vietnam » Ho Chi Minh City

 Inside Tan Son Nhat Airport

Ho Chi Minh was my second place to visit in my May 2010 backpacking plan. When I was planning my backpacking in March (when I was still on board a ship), I still not sure where I wanna go after the Singapore trip.

Yeah, after a few hours surfing in the internet, I found a cheaper flight tickets to the Vietnam's largest city. It is Ho Chi Minh City!

Situated at the South Vietnam, the flight took about 2 hours!. Oh, I was using Tiger Airways by the way.

Tan Son Nhat Airport View

Ho Chi Minh City also known as Saigon. But If I am not mistaken, the local called Saigon only at the Center of the HCMC. Not all the HO CHI MINH called Saigon, only at the center.

My last journey to Singapore I was alone, but for this trip, my friends "UDIN" will joined me for the Vietnam & Cambodia trip.

He got the ASEAN PASS from Malaysia Airlines, so he got no problem to book the flight ticket. Anytime he want! If you want to know about ASEAN PASS, go to the MAS website. ASEAN PASS for RM1049, you will get 4flights in the ASEAN country.

My flight was early than Udin, so I waited him at the HCMC Vietnam Airport for about an hour. Both of us just contact through email while I am Singapore. So I am quite nervous wether he will show up at the arrival hall or not.

He also told me that, he was also nervous what happened If I cancelled my trip because when I was in Singapore, i got a called from home told me about my grandmother had died. I was so sad because I can't went back because of the un-cancelled flight tickets. I had booked all the retuns flight ticket for 2 weeks.

So, I want or not, I cant cancelled the trip.

I had arranged a taxi driver to pick us up at the airport. When I arrived, I saw one taxi driver holding a paper with my name on it. Immediately I know that was my taxi. We stayed at Ngoc Thao House. Nice place to stay! Friendly!! and not to forget very nice room.

USD19 Per Night

In HCMC, if you do not want booked your accomodation, it should be ok. There were a thousand of choices to choose. But, it should be alright if you reserved a place for ONE night first, then for the next night, you can search at the city.

"Pham Ngu Lao" Street is the best place area to stay, near with everything. But not to warn you, this place is very touristy!!!. So many foreigners in this area. I hate it. Because I want to be somewhere hidden where there is no tourist at all. But, it was OK for the first time right.

Benh Thahn Market

Just asked the hotel about where to go, how, how far from the interesting places. First place we went after we arrived was Benh Thahn market. 10 minutes from our hotel is this market. Actually we didnt went to the market but we went to the street next to the market.

A lot of sourvenier!!! Oh, by the way, you better standby your US DOLLAR!!!

So many MALAYSIAN! Look alike "Petaling Street" in Kuala Lumpur. Well, maybe Malaysian are very rich! LOL!!

Benh Thahn Market

See the colourful rice at this above photo?... Look yummy but I not really on the mood to try food on that time. We bought a lot of keychains and we haggled the price like there is no tomorrow. You must HAGGLE the price as low as you can!!! *TIPS* Before you go to HCMC, test your HAGGLE skill at "Petaling Street" in Kuala Lumpur first!!..

Sri Mariamman Temple

We had been in HCMC for 4days 3 nights.

Most of the Vietnamese are Buddist, but there are Hindu, Muslim and other religion in here. 

At the photo above, is the Sri Mariamman Temple. When you enter this temple, just make sure you got proper clothes, and be respectful.... 

*psttt.. I told you one secret, I never been to Hindu Temple ever in Malaysia* So, this is my opportunity to visit! and back in SIngapore,  had visited a lot of Hindu and Buddha Temple.*

Vietnamese Handicrafts Centre

We didnt enter the Handicraft Centre because it is sound so boring. Took a photos just OK!

Almost our travelled around HCMC we were walking around. *Tips* Along the Pham Ngu Lao street, you can buy a copycat of Vietnam Lonely Planet Book. ! A lot, and its cheap! only around US5!

REUNIFICATION PALACE, it was a former Vietnam Presidential Palace. I do not know, but if you didn't took a picture at this place, you can't say you visited HCMC! 

OH!! Inside this palace, very very hot!!! No air-conditioning!!!

Notre Dame Cathedral.

 From the City Centre it is an easy walk of less than 10 minutes to the Cathedral. The 40 metre high square steeples stand out on the skyline and help navigate the streets. 

The cathedral was built between 1877 and 1883 and has no stained glass windows as they were damaged during World War 2 and never replaced, the exterior walls being red brick have suffered water damage over the years. 

It can be seen where sections have been repaired , however there is need for considerable more work to be done. The lack of maintenance is typical of many classic old buildings highlighted as tourist attractions in HCMC.

Old Post Office

For the Chu Chi Tunnel trip, we booked a tour for US5 each. It is recommended to take a tour for this trip. Return bus transport and a guide provided!!.. Maybe bring your own food. No foods are provided. And a drink too!! Ho Chi Minh City is a very HOT place. If you think Kuala Lumpur is HOT, HCMC 1.3 times hotter. (Multiply by yourself, aha!)

Handiccaped Handicraft

On the way to Chu Chi Tunnel, the bus will stop and took a rest maybe for 1 hour at the Handiccaped Handicraft. All the handicraft is amazingly MADE! I was so surprised how good the are. But all the item too pricy. You also can buy and ask them to deliver in front to your house.

When it turn to who wants to volunteer to enter th hole, everybody were looking to each other and waiting for the volunteer to go first. That was including me! But, like I care, maybe I was the 4th perosn to enter and took the picture. When else I can get this opportunity

So, who ever out there, do not shy please, there is no need to shy here. Nobody recognize you here...

The first tip I want to give to you if you are planning to Chu Chi Tunnel, 


Why? You will enter the tunnels, crawling like a crocodile through this tunnel. About 5 minutes. You will hurt your knee!!

Sorry, no CLAUTROPHOBIC allowed!

2nd tip, Bring Your BABY Torche!

It was darkkkkkk.....!!!

3rd tip, DO NOT FART!

Because it is enclosed space!

4th, use shoesss, it will easy to move

5th, DIET and LOSE some weight before you enter because you do not know which angle you will stuck in the tunnel. (UDIN, You stuck eh?..hahahaa...joking)

6th, no turning back. Once you enter, no way to turn back... keep crawling like a baby to the front!

7th, bring bags or keep everything you own in the bagg... you will do not know whether your wallet or mobile phone will drop in the tunnel

8th, No FACEBooKing... hahaa... No WIFI in the tunnel.. sorry to say!

But if you do not dare to enter, you are the biggest loser. Once in a life time chance, except if you planning to build your own tunnel at your backyard!

4days 3nights, will continue for the 2nd part....