Monday, July 2, 2012

Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) - Let's Explore Together

My first ever solo travel (Bangkok Thailand Part 2 & Chonburi). Tadaa! I did it. I sure did. A proud moment of mine. In fact, one of the most proudest by far in my entire life. Me daring myself to travelling alone (Ayutthaya). Thereafter? On the go again. Thanks to the insights, mainly on courage and ditching aside fear I have already picked up. But not as in solo, solo again. I actually joined a tour group. Where to? Vietnam & Cambodia by paying more compared to the stated amount due to single room occupant. Otherwise, everything else being equal and square. Same package basically. The day arrived and off to the airport where tour guide was already on stand-by, and before going up in the air for landing in Tan Son Nhat airport, followed by to Liberty Central Hotel for our one night stay. At this juncture, friendship ice-berg still at it rawness. Meaning? Friendship water has not been broken though we did smile at each other and after collecting our keys, off to our respective rooms. My room. Sincerely. A comfort zone. Nothing to complain about. Simple yet elegant. Spic and span, and ample space for me, myself and I.  

Luggage and belongings kept aside, and me touching up myself and back to the lobby for being told by  the tour guide that, we have 3 hours in hand before kick starting our first itinerary in HCMH. Thus, we should possibly check out Ben Thanh Market which is within a 15 minutes walking distance. Did I? Of course. Unless, I didn't have the guts to walk alone? I sure had bags of it. So, I started walking and every now and then, being cheekily grinned and friskily stared at by the older Vietnamese guys. Duh! But why? I really can't tell you why. Sort of hilarious as well for putting a smile on my face. Into Ben Thanh Market and. Ben Thanh Market? Like any market in your country. Of course, in Ben Thanh Market, it must be Vietnamese produce? Obviously. Clothes, shoes, knick-knacks, coffee, fruits, what else not and food stalls too.    
Aplenty choices too mind you. But once you start walking around and within the stalls, it will be a matter between which stall you want to buy what because most of the traders are selling almost the same things.   
Did I shop? Initially, I had no intention. However, once I checked out the slippers, I was like put into a pedestal of tourism buying. The young lady wouldn't leave me alone. She pestering me over and over again until I bought two pairs and by the time I paid and said bye, we have become like best friends on earth. 

What else did I do Ben Thanh Market? I wanted to get something to munch from the food stalls. Just as I was deciding in front of one of the stalls, I don't know what got into the lady trader who started raising her voice. Maybe she's trying to say something but her loud voice? I bolted. Out of Ben Thanh Market immediately. Scary first time, raw and uncensored experience in Vietnam. Phew!!!
Back to the hotel and once everyone has gathered, Water Puppet Show. Tour guide making the necessarily arrangement and we later taking our seats in the theatre and also given a pamphlet in English. How? Water Puppet Show? Interesting start. Gluing us on our seats. Seeing the puppets going in, out, up and above the water and synchronised by the loud banging traditional Vietnamese sound of music. But within the next 10 minutes? No doubt, respect due must be respect given for the skills, yet. I was bored to death. As if you are seeing the same act over and over again, and the loud music? Must I recommend Water Puppet Show to you? Honestly, don't waste your money and time.

Oh-boy! Finally, show ended within the next I think 45 minutes. What a relief! And we later adjourning for dinner. Our first meal in Vietnam and in Quan Ngon 138 Vietnamese Restaurant. Haven. Ambiance wise, service wise and food wise. Delicious meal. Utterly. Vietnamese rolls, soup, fish, salad and what not, plus the traditional Vietnamese dessert in tall glass, a similarity to our ice kacang/ABC.   

Day 1 over and done, and we returning to the hotel. Next morning, after tucking into hotel buffet breakfast, our sightseeing shot off. Reunification Palace. Previously known as Independence Palace and where Vietnam War ended. In other words, the fall of Saigon. We walking into the compound and at once, so much of excitement seeing the vintage cannons and tanks outside. My-My! I think the first ever live experience of seeing these military war equipments for most of us. Of course, how can we not have our moment to candid shots.  Must be included right?  Right. 

Into the Palace next. Home and workplace of South Vietnam's President during Vietnam War and Reunification Palace built on a former site of Norodom Palace and designed by Paris-trained Vietnamese architect Ngo Viet Thu. What's in store inside? Series of rooms, private quarters, dining rooms, entertainment lounges, president's office convention halls, entertainment room, meeting room, war room, ballroom, guest lodge, planes on the roof top and the whole lock, stock and barrel associated with the President.


Almost two hours in Reunification Palace, and then to War Remnants Museum. Vietnam war and its relevancy again. Believe me, can stir up your feelings. War torture, pain, misery and aftermath on all those effected and impacted. Pretty much, the outcome of the years of Vietnam War. Worth the experience seeing and reading. Yes. Why? Because by the time you walk out and also view the outside torture chamber, you won't complain how unfair life is. In fact, you will be lost for words. 

Up next? Saigon Post Office. Nothing much actually. Maybe not even twenty minutes of your time. Of course admirable and Saigon Post Office still functioning as usual till this day. Built in the 20th century by renowned architect Gustave Eiffel and when Vietnam was part of French Indochina. Says it all I suppose? Vault roof and arched windows, the reminiscent of early European railway stations? Additionally, those colonial period phone booths? Already converted to ATM machine booths, and also, the historic map of South Vietnam on the concourse walls, a mosaic of Ho Chi Minh and souvenirs you can pick up. 

Across Saigon Post Office? Don't miss it. Make it a point in seeing the Notre Dame Cathedral. Which is a mini replica of its counterpart in Paris and built in 1880 as a symbol of the French occupation in Vietnam. Me basically taking a couple of minutes, unfortunately though, no chance to viewing the interior due to church was close.
The end of our half a day sightseeing in Ho Chi Minh City. Lunch was next and off to the airport for touching down in Cambodia.      


  1. Happy New Year Nava

    sorry I have not been here to greet you earlier. Took some time off from blogging

    HCM City looks like a good place to visit

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