Monday, July 2, 2012

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

My travelling legs wouldn’t stop itching. They indirectly, I think, were sounding me that, its about time they walk me towards another traveling blast. Why not? After all, money is still sunny towards me, therefore, what should potentially stop me from planning for another wonder lust? Moreover, me and my solo travelling, we are already accustomed to each other. Experience, what else can it potentially be. I have already kick started my solo travelling, why shouldn't I do it again? What about my other half-half, are you asking? Well, he has accepted the reality. The reality to me travelling alone, whether he like it or not, I suppose he can't keep me all locked up at home (Italy & Bangkok)? Regardless, his blessings is vital to me. So, I decided. I decided to trail Vietnam and Cambodia this time. Not on my own, I joined a tour group, though you can still regard it as solo. Solo meaning travelling alongside unknown people and only god knew who these people will be. Solo tour group travelling also means I gotto to cough out more money. Mainly for single room sleeping alone. Honestly, it didn't matter to me because I can't be sharing room with a stranger? . 

The day arrived and off I left to the airport where our local tour guide was already waiting. After the customary hi and introducing myself, up in the air we went to arrive in Ho Chi Minh City in the afternoon. To Liberty Central Hotel for checking in, I think the rest of the tour fellows did notice me alone, but at this juncture, our friendship is yet to be broken. Collecting my key, I left to my room. Nice. No qualms. Clean and well maintained, I loved the fact that my room came with a big window. Much needed for me to stare at the sky when I return after sightseeing and first thing first in the morning.

Luggage and my belongings kept aside, I also refreshed myself and and since our first itinerary will only begin at 6.00pm, guide suggested that we check out Ben Thanh Market within a walking distance of 20 minutes or so. And so I did. At the cheeky grins and smiles of the locals, quite a thing actually, I was mind you quite panicky, nevertheless after walking along the street lined on both sides with all sorts of shops, I made it in one piece into Ben Thanh Market.
A couple of rounds around the line and line of stalls, in and out in this all about Vietnamese local produce, including food stalls, I bought two pairs of slippers since the young lady trader literally persisted. She wouldn't let me go and I gave in because she being a gem of a young sweetie. As if we have known each other for years. Thereafter, I stopped by at the food stall, hoping I can grab some bites. But things didn't work out as I expected. The rude trader gave me a fright. She, oh-boy, I am unsure why, she started raising her voice. Doom! Enough I told myself and since much has already been covered, I think I had done enough rounds, I decided I should be walking back to the hotel. I basically quickly bolted.

Back to the hotel, within the next 10 minutes, we hopped into the coach for Water Puppet Show. Ticket sorted out by our tour guide, we subsequently entering the theater for taking our seats and while waiting for the show to begin, I made friends with the elderly couple. We spoke, we got to know each other and once lights were dimmed, simultaneously curtains were drawn, we focused on Water Puppet Show.  A promising start no doubt, but after the first 15 minutes, I was bored to death. God! Loud banging noise and as if the same act of in and out of the water being repeated over and over again. Trust me, so close I was in escaping out,  yet, I couldn't due to darkness and me being concern if I will distract others who seemingly were having a ball of a time watching. Phew! Finally show ended. What a relief?  

Water Puppet Show was followed by our first meal in Vietnam. Quan Ngon 138 Vietnamese Restaurant. Admirable romantic ambiance, and good goody food. Ample choices of dishes, in fact, more than enough to go around until our table almost spilled over. Vietnamese rolls, soup, fish, salad and ending with Vietnamese sweet delight. End of our day one in Ho Chi Minh City.

Next morning, the first place to our sightseeing was Reunification Palace. Previously known as Independence  Palace and where Vietnam War ended. Basically, The Fall of Saigon. Into the compound and trill, frill and excitement spilled over the vintage cannons and tanks. Of course I had to do my candid shots? 

Next we walked into Reunification Palace. Once inside, I broke away from my tour group for my at my own leisure sightseeing in this majestic, airy and open Palace. The home and workplace of South Vietnam's President during Vietnam War, Reunification Palace, designed by Paris-trained Vietnamese architect Ngo Viet Thu and built on the former site of Norodom Palace. Inside, you will see a series of rooms. Private quarters, dining rooms, entertainment lounges, president's office convention halls, entertainment room, meeting room, war room, ballroom, guest lodge, so on and so forth.

True enough. Reunification is huge and while at going from one room to the other room, I was lost. I thought I was basically circling within the same area and mind you, when you are at the silent and quiet corridors, it can be quite an eerie and scary thing due to the fact that Reunification Palace showcases what transpired during Vietnam War. Over a million casualties and the after effects suffering still endured till this day. My imagining, I tell you ran wild. I was worried if I will bump into those departed. Just in case, you never know, they may be still loitering or occupying a space in Reunification Palace. Not a nice feeling, until I quickly walked and realise it will be best I stay within where most tourists were. From floor to floor and right till the roof top where the planes of the war era are.    

From Reunification Palace, we journeyed to War Remnants Museum. Another museum which by far can stir up your emotions and the continuity of what you have already seen in Reunification Palace. Just that, its even more tragic in War Remnants Museum. Imagine? Imagine how it would have been like? War and suffering, war and losing your love ones, war and starvation, war and hiding in dark holes and war torturing? Merciless Vietnam War.  

Our next sightseeing spot was Saigon Post Office. Built in the 20th century by renowned architect Gustave Eiffel when Vietnam was part of French Indochina, Saigon Post Office I must say is stylish and akin a shining star. Vault roof and arched windows, the reminiscent of early European railway stations. Impressive inside and outside as well. A spacious airy open area for ease of moving around, those colonial period phone booth converted to ATM machine booths are admirable and fascinating historic maps of South Vietnam on the concourse walls. Additionally, a mosaic of Ho Chi Minh being the pride in this barrel-vaulted hall and Saigon Post Office now operating as a post office itself, offering all kinda traditional postal services like mailing, selling postcards, stamps and foreign exchange. On your way out, once you have had enough in Saigon Central Post Office, you can consider picking up some souvenirs before you exit. 

Once you are outside, you might as well cross the busy street for having a look at Notre Dame Cathedral. A mini replica of its counterpart in Paris and built in 1880 as a symbol of the French occupation in Vietnam. I was rather disappointed because church was close and after a couple of pictures, we left for lunch, thereafter, embarking on our long distance journey to Siam Reap, Cambodia.


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  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

  2. Looks like five star service here.

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