thisisanexperiment. no, really. it is.

VIETNAM

Posted in Life by thisisanexperiment on August 11, 2010

Guess who’s back, back again….It’s me! Here’s a recount of the past few days…in parts of course.

HO CHI MINH CITY- DAY ONE.

Our Vietnam adventure began and ended in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC)/Saigon. HCMC’s international airport is clean & modern, and honestly, not the worst I’ve seen. If you need a visa to enter Vietnam, your wait might take a little while though. SGD0.30 will put you on a clean, air-conditioned bus (#152) from the airport to central HCMC. Our hostel ‘My My Art House’ along with tonnes of other hostels is located in the main backpacker’s district at Phan Ngu Lao.

‘My My Art House’ is admittedly a little bit difficult to find. Its’ entrance is located in a back alley, so you will need some navigational skills. The easiest way is to find Allez Boo pub, make a right turn into an alley and find your way through (assuming Allez Boo is on your right). Asides from its slightly mysterious location, the Art House is clean and follows a ‘no footwear’ policy, so take off your shoes before stepping in.

A picture of our twin room & the toilet- simple and clean. If you need drinks like bottled mineral water, beer or soft drinks, you should find it in the mini-fridge in your room, or just ask the hostel owner who’s friendly and will be glad to help you. Free internet usage at the ground floor as well.

A note of caution if you are a shower/hygiene freak like me, the water supply for the bath rooms come from a water tank, so if many guests are using the shower at the same time,  you run the risk of running out of hot water, if any even flow out of the tap. I had to find out the hard way, after shampooing my hair into a soapy state -.- Also, I found the level one toilet to smell abit like poop; that could just be my sensitive nose.

Anyway, the great thing about staying at Phan Ngu Lao is that it’s got a great atmosphere that’s partly created by the locals and by the international crowd of backpackers.

By day, the area is buzzing with activity. Money changers, tour operators, street food vendors and cafes are available for your needs. ‘The Sinh Tourist’ (formerly Sinh Cafe) is pretty reliable and offers many buses and tours to numerous locations in Vietnam and beyond. It also has a money changer inside which offers pretty strong rates- 1 SGD: 13,500 Vietnamese dong. We arranged for a bus (that departs at around 745am) to Dalat there.

If you can’t take a bus that leaves Dalat in the morning, you can arrange for an overnight bus trip back to HCMC (or to other destinations) when you are actually in Dalat, from other bus service operators.

At night, there are plenty of pubs to chill out and people-watch at. A few notable pubs are Allez Boo (which apparently features quite a few hook-ups, if you know what I mean), GoGo, and Crazy Buffalo. We visited GoGo and Crazy Buffalo on Day Four and Day One respectively, and I have to say that the crowd and atmosphere (but not necessarily the drinks) at GoGo is definitely the stronger of the two. Crazy Buffalo tends to play very mambo-like music, so if that’s your thing, the music isn’t a problem.

Nevertheless, both are good places to people watch. If you’re sitting right next to the road, you are going to be facing plenty of street vendors hawking their wares (anything from pirated books to cuttle fish). If you’re interested in taking home some art, there are plenty of art shops/galleries here that do great affordable pop art and replicas. Elsewhere in HCMC, we visited the War Remnants Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Post Office (which is right across the road from the cathedral). We really should have just taken a taxi to these places, but we wanted to walk. Mistake. Hot, humid and not much fun when you get lost. But, oh well.

The War Remnants Museum is a good visit. A ticket costs about 15,000 dong and will bring you 3 levels of exhibits and a prison model. The exhibits not only showcase weapons used in the Vietnam war, but also provides photographic documentation of the victims of Agent Orange. If you’re easily disturbed, you probably will find the images upsetting. Outside the main building, there is a prison exhibit of what imprisoned Vietnamese had to endure.

When visiting this attraction, it’s a good idea to bring along a fan, just in case the air conditioning is not switched on. It gets especially stuffy on the 2nd and 3rd levels. Notre Dame is a pretty enough cathedral, though nothing particularly breath-taking, in my humble opinion. The Post Office is architecturally picturesque, and its quaint colonial interior is probably what draws tourists. It was fun to pretend to use those phone booths (still functional, apparently), but not much to shout about over all. You could always send out a post card.

Let’s now talk about FOOOOOOD! First food stop was Lam Cafe over at Phan Ngu Lao. Turns out it was a good random choice. I had the Beef Pho, while my other friends had the Chicken Pho, curry and yes, there was a burger ordered by someone.

The beef pho is sweet and I do honestly think it’s lovely. The pho noodles in Vietnam is textured with ridges, which really gives it this fantastic QQ/chewy bounce to it.

But the Star of my meal there is the Strawberry juice and shake. It’s thick and you can really taste the generous amount of strawberries put into it. Yummy.

Dinner was at Pho 24- a Vietnamese chain restaurant- that was recommended by Lonely Planet as the best pho. Our opinion? It was ‘meh’ and definitely not up to expectations, so you can skip it if you wish. The fried Spring Rolls were yummy though, so you can give that a try.

That marks HCMC, Day One. In other news, my dad’s just has his heart bypass operation. So far so good, hopefully it stays that way. Good night, World.

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  1. […] post: VIETNAM « thisisanexperiment. no, really. it is. Tags: food-stop, now-talk, over-at-phan, send-out, still-functional, Vietnam […]


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