Monday, December 7, 2009

Vietnam Backpack - Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon - 23.11.09

I was really looking forward for this trip. It's a 11-day backpack trip to Vietnam.

But quite surprisingly, I didn't really feel hyper-excited before departure. Maybe we were too well prepared???

I was joined by 3 of my friends in Ah Keat, Soon Seng, and his gf Jing Hui.

23.11.09, I woke up at 2.30am. We left for Singapore's Changi airport in the dark. Our flight was at around 7am.

A genuine confession, the air-stewardess on Tiger Airways was disappointing. THEY WORE LONG PANTS!!!

Well, anyway that's not the point. Budget is.

We arrived at Ho Chi Minh City Airport about 8.00am, local time (GMT 7.00).

We've to adjusted our watches 1 hour earlier...

It's a busy busy town!

We've booked our hotel and catered for someone to pick us up at the airport so that we wouldn't get slaughter and those errant blood-sucker taxi drivers.

Hong Han Hotel - 7.50 USD / pax + breakfast (Notice the telephone lines above?)

The girl at the hotel (I actually forgotten her name) was really helpful. She gave a map of Saigon, and introduced places that we can visit and find good food.

I've did my own research too, bringing over a stack of programs and things to do there.

We still haven't had our breakfast!

Pho Bo = Beef Noodle

It's a meal that you can find everywhere in Vietnam!!! It's like nasi lemak in Malaysia

We then set out our exploration in Saigon.

Selling stuffs by the road side in a norm

By drafting our schedule properly, we first visited Ben Thahn market.

It looks really clean and tidy

But the things weren't cheap as I expected

Independence Palace aka Reunification Palace is an important landmark in Vietnam. It's a place where the President stayed last time, and a place that witness invasion of foreign powers like the French and US.

My travel mates - Keat, Soon Seng, and Jing Hui

The lobby

Uncle Ho holds great respect in Vietnam
They provider free tour guide - We definitely had a Vietnam History class

President's table

???

You never been to Saigon if you didn't visit this place

We then walk a few streets to visit the War Museum, a place that record the brutality and violence of the Vietnam War, which ended only in 1975.

Part of the exhibits

Excuse me!!!

Anyway, war is hell.

Real time war pictures really shook me.

War brings nothing by harm to loved ones (There are so many pictures like these)

A visit thru this War Museum reminded me how important peace is.

Fidel Castro in Vietnam - A socialist ideology

US Air Force

Keat mesmerizing the moment

We continued walking.

It was already in the evening.

And motorbikes flood the streets. I really wonder where all these bikes come from...

We passed by supposing-ly quite a famous school in Saigon.

With quite a grand gate (At least better than my old school's one back in Skudai)

Aunty selling snacks

Old-style

So we joined the crowd (~RM 1-2.00)

This fried corn was the best there

A cute girl waiting for her parents on a bike, eating a burger

And we continued with our next destination.

And suddenly...

Seating beside the main road for???

Seating in circles some more!

It's really beside the main road!

And my, isn't their drawing cool?

So all these people were drawing by the main road!

Top on my "must-see" list in Saigon was the Notre-Dame Basilica.

Built by the French in 1880

It was majestic

A service was on-going

A wedding photo shoot outside the cathedral

Soon Seng, my old pal had this for his facebook picture

Next up down the road was Saigon's post office, another French-influenced architecture.

It's around 5.20pm but I can tell you, the sky was getting like 7.20pm

A reminder that Christmas is round the corner

Main lobby

Then, we walked around Saigon, hungry-ly.

I took this picture right in front of Saigon's City Hall. I knew a police guard was whistling away, and later rushed out from his police beat with his rifle. It did shock my friends a little. But I laughed it off...

Saigon's most famous hotel - Rex Hotel

Uncle Ho in front of City Hall

Saigon is a busy town. I believe it's busier than KL.

The flow of motorbikes doesn't seem to stop

We were hungry after walking the whole day.

Spotted this by the road side

It's a mixture of brown unpolished rice, coconuts, and unknown beans. And we knew it's very much added with "supplements".

But no harm giving a try...

We had dinner somewhere outside Ben Thanh Market.

Beef fried noodles

Roast chicken rice

There was this lady selling "sugarcane water", insisting on charging us around Rm 3.00 a cup rather than the normal price of Rm 1.00. We stood our stand, rather buying mineral water elsewhere.

Her husband looked annoyed and wanted to sell the drinks. I could tell from his look, but we'd just make do without any drinks for dinner.

In the park, people actually play all sorts of games (badminton, basketball, football...)

Back to our hotel... What a tiring day

But we still managed to try what's best in Saigon

~~~

So this is day 1 out of 11!

Still more nice pictures and happening stories to share with all of you guys!

Stay tune!

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