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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Saigon - Ho Chi Minh City Tour

“Deb, hang dah bangun ka?” “Gila hang, aku dah bangun la…”

We fetched her up and leaved Puncak Jalil at 5.20am. Our flight departed at 7.20am. Thank god Deb willing to send us this time, as we couldn’t bear enough to pay the parking fee at LCCT. (Luv u Gorgeous!)
Leaving her with my Black Pearl, we get ourselves checked in. We looked around, and there we sat in the middle, as the only non-Vietnamese-speaking who were on board. Hmm…nice! Just like our trip to Samui, Thailand. We later had our in flight breakfast with Ramadhan’s Special-Chairman’s Choice, Nasik Lemak Sotong. Yummy!

We touched down at Tan Son Nhat Airport 8.10am, local time (one hour late than M’sia.) We didn’t pre-chartered any taxi, and no airport transfer provided by the hotel (we took GO Holiday Air Asia that offered flight and hotel in a package). As per advised in most of Saigon forums, we chartered a well-known taxi, Vinasun, right in front of the air terminal (never take unknown non-metered taxi!)

Oh ya, it’s a must for you to get a metered taxi! Along with the complete hotel address ya! Then let the driver do the driving. Hehe…(too bad if he drove you around when your hotel is just a few blocks away). But, it didn’t happen to us lah coz we had a map to refer to! (Yup, do your homework moron!)
We reached City Star Hotel in 30minutes and paid 150,000VND=RM30. Traffic? Tell me bout it! 5mill motorcycles for 9 mill people! With left hand drive cars, busses, with wrong directions, u-turns, and such, you can never get across the road! Haha! (The only country that we never wanted to drive on our own. Peace ya’ll.)After checked in, we went out for HCMC Tour. We took neither tour guide nor tour package, seeing that we able to do it all on our own hands and feet. Since the hotel reception told us that all places of interest that we wanted to go can be reached within walking distance, we started to walk to Ben Than Market. Similar to Beringharjo Market in Jogja, Philippine Market in Sabah, Chaweng in Samui, Fish Market in Medan, Central Market in KL, this market sells foods, textiles, accessories, shoes, hats, souvenirs and many more. Awesome! Get anything you want and start to do the bargain (but I didn’t…not yet). Always start with half of the price offered, and end it up with a win-win situation, comprehende?Out from Ben Than Market, we thought of renting a one seater cyclo (a.k.a beca, but smaller). It was described as the cheapest transportation in town and can take you around HCMC (Ho Chi Minh City). These cyclos were proclaimed as ex-army, well spoken, and able to introduce to you of those noted places in town. We agreed to take one (but not really well spoken, anyhow, still understandable la), that brought us to Notre Dame and Post Office for 20,000VND=RM4.Never took the money, the cyclo agreed to wait while we took our own sweet time capturing photos of Notre Dame and Post Office. These structures are still fine-looking and stunning, even they have gone through a rough time during Vietnam War.Strong wind has forced us to get inside the post office and believe me, interior is nevertheless healthier than exterior. Beautiful. With Uncle Ho’s portrait hung in the middle, high ceiling, huge wall map, wooden carved counter, felt like in the 40’s. Not able to snap any good pictures or ourselves due to strong wind that messed up our hair, we walked back to the cyclo.We gave him a pat and asked him to cycle us to another two locations, War Remnant Museum and President Palace. He agreed with 50,000VND=RM10. I sat in between of hubby’s leg and he cycled us off to War Remnant Museum.

Beforehand, we stopped at one halal resto, Bombay Indian Restaurant in District 1 (why always Indians who serve halal food outside M’sia huh?). The waitress came and spoke Bahasa with us! (How did she know? Oh well, situated in front of Sheraton Hotel, she must have listened to Bahasa everyday la kot…and of course I spoke Bahasa with hubby in front of her.) Two plain rice, one chicken curry and free vege, cost us around 103,000VND=RM20. So damn costly kan???!!! Urgh!
Rain started to drizzle. The cyclo had no cover and luckily, we reached War Remnant Museum in 30minutes. Again, the cyclo gave us a thumb up and asked us to enjoy the visit while he waiting outside. “Go, go…very good…you should go, go…”. Hmm…good service huh! Paid 150,000=RM30 for two, and inside, we went (Yoda style).

Visiting this museum has made me traumatized. The pictures, I must say. Disturbing. This was what human did to human. How this could be allowed. Yeah, I love technology, I love war making (game la, dush!), I love military thingy, but…if it used for killing innocent women and children, it has to be stop! If you want to do war, do it the right way. Go to one open empty space, and start shooting! Not dropping that biological weapon that you called the “Agent Orange” and distorted all God creatures! Stupid! And you know what, the bombing activities in Vietnam War were much bigger than WW2!
A bit of the real history. French invaded Vietnam and Vietnamese fought their best to defend their ground. Anyhow U.S, THE SELF-CLAIMED WORLD ARMY that always interfere other’s fight, has came to help the French. The war only stopped in the year of 1975 (31 years, damn long, man!) And that is why Vietnam is still, being declared as the third world country, coz they are recovering from the massive war and need to build up, while others (Asia countries), have moved to the second and first world status. Pity them.Enough with empty bullets and bombs, guns and riffles, pictures and facts, tankers and air-forces, we walked out and looked for the cyclo. We asked him for the last favor, to bring us to the President Palace.

When we reached there, we stood outside the gate for a while and discussed. Whether we should or should not enter this palace. It is big and beautiful, but we would prefer to watch the water puppet show (hubby said, it is not complete if we don’t go to this show) at the park, situated opposite the palace. But when the cyclo, again, advised us to go into the palace and told us “Good, good…President Palace…go, go…”, we decided to get inside the palace (charges for water puppet was 75,000VND=RM15, while the palace was only 30,000VND=RM6. Plus, the water puppet show will only starts at 6.30pm.)
We walked quickly to the entrance and looked around the palace. The building was big and rectangular. Situated in front of the palace, there was a huge compound with clean and nice-cut green carpet-grass. You can find a beautiful and gigantic fountain in the middle of it! Red flags with yellow star, stood still around it, telling us that it is still a republic country.Inside, we sneaked a quick look in the conference room, meeting room, war plan room, Uncle Ho’s room (pic below), dining hall, bedroom, and few other I-don’t-remember-what rooms. This palace was used to govern the communist and lead by Ho Chi Minh (a.k.a Uncle Ho), as the true and dedicated warrior. He started when he still young and fought to death to get the freedom for Vietnam (actually he survived from war la, and died old). No wonder you can see his pictures, portraits, banners, statues, all over HCMC (formerly know as Saigon). People worship him!With the help from local women who happened to lend a hand to us, we got few pictures in front of the fountain. We later met the cyclo and asked for the total charges, as we need to go back to the hotel. “500,000VND (RM100)…for two…4 hours…” and we were like “HUHHHH??? NO! NO! Just now you said 50,000VND, plus 20,000VND earlier, NO! NO!” No wonder he willing to wait and asked us to go in! He charged by hour! By this time, we started to quarrel with him and he insisted to get his 500,000VND. Then, he started to reduce to 400,000VND, and later, 300,000VND. (Well, the internet has said, confirm the rate BEFOREHAND! And yes, we DID, but yet he twisted it!)

After a few minutes of bargaining, we concluded and paid him 200,000VND=RM40. (Still pricey ok!!! What to do…wherever we go, we must get ripped off at least once to get the true experience…hehe!)

And so we walked back to the hotel, and guess what, it’s not that far (yeah rite! I lied!) At least we had all the main roads between our legs la kan…hehe! We walked like itik pulang petang, we crossed the road like ayam berak kapur, we laughed out loud like dubuk gile kuasa, and reached hotel before day's end.
We get ourselves cleaned and snoozed for almost 2 hours. Then we went out for dinner and this time, it’s a no-no to cyclo! We must get a metered taxi. And guess what, taxi was damn cheaper! 25,000VND=RM5 to go to Bon Muar Four Season Halal Resto (M’sian) which situated in the heart of the city! Hampeh! We ate nasik goreng and nasik goreng ikan masin and it cost us around 163,000VND=RM34. Arghhh! Yes, halal food was expensive tau tak! Dah la pasang lagu Spoon ke Scoin ke apatah! So outdated! Didn’t they know that the singer tu pun dah arwah!Right after dinner, we took another cab (make sure its Vinasun or Mai Linh ya) and drove us to Ben Than Night Market. Just 15,000VND=RM3! Memang celaka la cyclo tadi kannnn! Haha! The shocking thing here in Saigon, all good and popular places closed as early as 6.00pm, including famous street market. Benci kan? Anyway, they still have night market, but mostly selling branded shirts, shoes, made in Vietnam.

Planning to get an “ao dai” (pronounced as “ao nyai”) since beginning, I managed to buy one at the price of 300,000VND=RM60. You can actually pick your own fabric and they can sew one for you in 24 hours! But there’s a price to pay, of course. So I just get a ready-made for me. Maybe next year (that’s for sure! Kain diorang cantik gile sial! Hanoi, here I comeeeeee!)
I bought a Lacoste polo-T and a Vietnam t-shirt for me, magnets for my magnet-mates (quite pricey) and bookmarks for souvenirs. Hubby didn’t get anything (yet) for himself. Memilih la tu. We later took a cab again, and paid 13,000VND=RM2.50 to go back to our hotel (see, how cheap! We took 3 cabs and yet, still cheaper than the cyclo charges! Crazy!)


dibitz said...

one of the best walk-through-trip for me.. :) hehehe... mcm main game lak ada walk-through.. did i just created a term?

Biqque said...

hahaha indeed! i want readers to feel the experience and glad that u did!

3plepl8 said...

spoiler alert! don't read on if you like some elements of surprises...

3plepl8 said...

oopps...if you plan to visit saigon lah...

Unknown said...

alamak dah mana nih...(panic mode!!) hehehe

Biqque said...

ha ha tak tau! ha ha tak tau!

3plepl8 said...

cheap form of transportation turned out to be a rip off. pity us. life in saigon is very tricky for tourists i can say.

Ely Hasrul said...

ha tats why aku suh biq pegi.. kite dh xyah pg sbb dh tau ehhehe

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