Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam (Indochina 2012)

*Original title was supposed to be Hoing in Ho Chi Minh but that’s disrespectful and highly inaccurate as there were absolutely no hoing involved. Pho-ing, on the other hand…

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November 21, 2012

As you can see, I’m woefully behind on my travel blogging and I’m not sure how much I remember at this point. I’ve switched mobiles so all my notes on the Indochina trip is now long gone, but but BUT thank god for tripit and the meticulous boardroom planning that my co-travelers did. (We literally planned this stuff in an actual boardroom)

First, the lodging. I am happy to report that our stay in Long Hostel in the backpackers district (Pham Ngu Lao Street, District 1) was a pleasant one. We were surprised that the double rooms we booked were much bigger than expected, given my last hostel stays in both Singapore and Hong Kong. The bathroom was clean, and there were toiletries provided, and there wasn’t a shortage of sockets. Can’t think of a complaint except when the front desk confused our bus booking to Cambodia and we ended up doing it ourselves. No big deal though, the bus line offices were all next to each other.

There's even a mini-fridge.

There’s even a mini-fridge. (This is the room with the double; Jerome and Pat got the room with the 2 singles)

Mrs. Long, the owner of the establishment, not only served us yummy banana pancakes and coffee but also helped us plan our itinerary for our day tour around the city. Plus, when we were leaving early the next day, she packed us water and bananas. 9/10, would recommend staying here.

Mrs. Long helping us with our day's itinerary.

Mrs. Long helping us with our day’s itinerary.

We only had one full day to sight-see, but really, you could cover pretty much everything in that one day. I mean, we even made multiple stops for coffee. And by multiple, I mean practically on top of every two hours for Pat and me. Vietnam coffee is just so yum.

Some of the coffee we tried. :9

Some of the coffee we tried. :9

I woke up very early on the 21st, eager to go around on my own in the market near the hostel. Um… it was very much like the markets in the Philippines. In fact, the entire area was so reminiscent of Manila, except for the droves of mopeds.

After breakfast, we set off for our city sight-seeing. We had a list of places we wanted to see and restaurants we wanted to try. At first we tried to walk to the nearest place by foot but yeah, that was a mistake.

Lostchina in Indochina. Here's Pat asking some adoring college boys for directions.

Lostchina in Indochina. Here’s Pat asking some adoring students for directions.

So we went to the bus stop across the street (?) from our hostel’s street. (Okay, this sentence did not make sense) Anyway, let me just list down the places we went to.

Map of Saigon we got from the tourist center (which had free wifi)

Map of Saigon we got from the tourist center (which had free wifi)

1. Notre Dame Basilica – it’s a Catholic church established by the French colonists built in the style of… I have no idea. All I know is that all the tiles/stones were imported from France. It’s a beautiful church, and it attracted a lot of couples having their prenup pics taken. (There were an inordinate amount of people in wedding gear that day, not just around the church)

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I can see the French influence (I can’t)

2. Saigon Post Office – just a couple of skips from Notre Dame. We exchanged our dollars into dongs here. You can also buy tickets to shows and stuff.

Exterior of the post office

Exterior of the post office

I like the roof of this post office, it reminds me of some grand train stations.

I like the roof of this post office, it reminds me of some grand train stations.

3. City Hall and Uncle Ho’s statue – A bit of a walk from the Post Office, but manageable. The statue of the city’s father is in front of the City Hall. You can’t take photos on the grounds of the City Hall. Or you guys can’t, I can. I run really fast.

Skipping on the streets of Saigon.

Skipping on the streets of Saigon. (Or I just took a free kick, IDK)

The illegal photo. Hurhur.

The illegal photo. Hurhur.

Statue of "Uncle Ho" with the City Hall in the background.

Statue of “Uncle Ho” with the City Hall in the background.

4. Lunch at Quán Ăn Ngon – it’s a restaurant near Reunification Palace. Ask directions from the Tourist Center to the restaurant. IT’S WORTH IT. Great food and relatively cheap. I don’t have many pics of the place but it’s nice.

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5. Reunification Palace – it was closed for the day because of some convention or something, so we didn’t get to explore inside.

Photo taken from the gate. :(

Photo taken from the gate. 😦

These pups were sold on the street outside the Reunification Palace. Super cute!

These pups were sold on the street outside the Reunification Palace. Super cute!

6. War Remnants Museum – This is a really good place to visit, as it would really give you a good overview of the Vietnam War. But I didn’t come emotionally prepared and it left me drained and depressed. Even looking at the photos now makes my stomach twist.

War Remnants Museum: Exhibition House for Crimes of War and Aggression

War Remnants Museum: Exhibition House for Crimes of War and Aggression

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An exhibit inside the “Tiger Cages”

7. Water Puppet Show @ the Golden Dragon Puppet Theater – still manageable via walking. There’s apparently an English show but we caught the one in Vietnamese. It’s okay, it’s still visually appealing although walking around all day + the aircon meant a huge temptation to doze off for a bit.

Water puppet show!

Water puppet show!

8. Dinner at Pho Quynh – we went back to our hostel to rest for a bit and then we ate at this pho bo restaurant at 323 Duong Pham Ngu Lao. Best pho I’ve tasted in my life, hands down. And as with most food in Vietnam – it’s cheap.

Pho Quynh. Sorry no pho-to, was too hungry. (See what I did there hurhur)

Pho Quynh. Sorry no pho-to, was too hungry. (See what I did there hurhur)

9. Saigon Night Market – nothing special, practically identical to all night markets around Asia I’ve been too. Except there’s a lot of North Face products. Get ’em here, get ’em cheap. Before walking home, we passed by this active park and Jerome and I had to try some of the equipment. Okay, not related to the night market but it was fun.

Where you can buy cheap trinkets for the people you don't really like but have to buy something for.

Where you can buy cheap trinkets for the people you don’t really like but have to buy something for.

Sticky rice.

Sticky rice. Some of it’s really good, some of it’s kinda meh, one is eww.

Early the next morning, we we were off to the bus ticket offices (it’s also the pick-up point of the buses) for our ride to Siem Reap. I think the highlight of my Saigon day was the food. All the food. And the coffee.

Thank you Vietnam, for making me a millionaire. 🙂

Estimated total cost of Vietnam stay, including transport from hotel, accommodations, and bus ticket to Siem Reap: PHP2490 (~$56)

…Which isn’t bad considering amount of coffee consumed plus purchase of useless trinkets like a traditional Vietnamese hat for my hedgehog.

See also: Indochina Instagram spam

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One thought on “Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam (Indochina 2012)

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