Goshh I miss you guys so much! And after my last trip for 2014, I am here now all excited and jiggly ready to share with you my most recent wanderlust destination that is Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam! I must warn you though, this post is packed with images and I am so so happy that I could share with you about the entire trip. You guys have been asking me to update a post about it, and here I am! :)
It started off as an impromptu decision as I didn't plan this months in advanced. But after my talk I did with Dynamigue a couple of months ago, I met with the Glocal Travel agent, Anna, and she just handed out to me her brochure just as she would with everyone else. When I got home and cleared out my bag, there I saw the brochure again, and somehow, I felt like I wanted to go to Vietnam. Most of my family members have been there but nope, not me.
So on Sunday (14th of December 2014) I found myself along my girls, Syira and Anis who were also ecstatic of the trip. The flight was only about 2.5 hours (thank God) and at 2pm-ish, I was in Ho Chi Minh (or previously known as Saigon).
Since the remaining day left was not that much when we arrived, we decided to go sightseeing in our shuttle and went for some shopping spree. I mean c'mon, ask any Malaysian, they would definitely say Ho Chi Minh is the paradise of shopping. To make things a lot 'best' (Malaysian term), our hotel was just a few meters away from the oh-so-famous Pasar Malam and Ben Thanh Market!
You can pretty much get anything at both of those two markets with so much fraction of the price. The sellers are also very good in speaking Malay, saying 'murah', 'cantik' and the price of the items in Ringgit Malaysia. To tell you the truth, I didn't change my money to Dong at all. All I brought with me are cold hard Malaysian Ringgit cash. haha.. I bought everything using my RM and they are perfectly fine with it too. Sometimes they would return the change in Dong, but most of the times I got were in RM.
And when in Ben Thanh Market or the Pasar Malam, you'll feel exactly as if you're somewhere in Malaysia. Why? Cause you're most likely to bump into Malaysians every 1m you walk. hahaha.. When you're shopping in Vietnam, be sure to haggle! I bought dresses that were initially charged at RM70, but when I pretended that I didn't want the dress and would go to a different stall, they would pull me back in and asked what price would I want. I said RM25 (as I know that's how the quality of the dress is worth) and you know what, they finally gave in!
The following day we went to Cu Chi District. The journey from our hotel took about 1.45 hours but with chit chatting sessions going on in the bus, the hour flew by just like that. Cu Chi District is where the tunnels dug by the Vietnamese during the Vietnam War and when we were there, we could witness the exact tunnels and items used during the war. Our tour guide explicitly explained to us everything making sure we understood what went on about when the Vietnamese land was at stake.
I went inside the tunnel and practically crawled my way in about 20m hehe.. It was not dirty as tourists have been inside the tunnel a million of times before me, and no, there were no rats if you're wondering haha.. Anis and I just switched on the lights on our phones and easily went in. I suggest you'd wear tshirt and jeans kinda clothing cause you could get sweaty with all the touring at Cu Chi. And comfy shoes. Comfy shoes, Shea.
Our bus made a stop at the Handicapped Handicraft factory to let us witness how the famous traditional artworks were made. I was particularly glued seeing these handicapped people working their magic be it on trays, vases or wall ornaments. They used crushed egg shells, paint, and lots of other mediums in order to get the most perfect artwork you could ever see. Seriously! And lucky tourists get to purchase the items in the store they have next door to bring back home for souvenirs or for decoration purposes at home.
When I was told that we were going to see a puppet show, I wasn't that excited. But lo and behold, the puppet show was a uniqueness on its own due to the fact that it works on water! The puppet acts on the water in front of that green blind (right image) and amazed us at how the heck did the puppeteers played them puppets! I was wondering the entire time haha.. The show was funny and cute although we couldn't understand what they were saying. But I guess that's part of the whole culture enriching journey that you would love to explore as a tourist, right?
The next day, we were then brought to Mekong River Delta which was 2 hours away from our hotel in Ho Chi Minh city. Again I was okay with the two hours cause I found myself talking all throughout the trip with my bus mates haha.. So when we reached there, we rode a boat that brought us to the inner part of the river. There we had our meal, tasted the Vietnamese honey tea, and was given a short performance by the women at the stalls.
I was soooo excited when we finally had the chance to ride the sampan! The sampan can bring four people per ride, so I sat with my friends and the lady who rowed the sampan brought us throughout the narrower side of the river. The funny thing that happened here was, as we were gliding our way through, the old lady who was rowing our sampan signalled us something when we reached a hut on the right showing that that's where she lives. It's a very poor and worn down hut so when we saw it were like 'omg.. kesiannyaa...' So I said to Anis and Syira, "let's give her tips after this nak?" and they agreed. The old lady would occasionally rub her shoulders while rowing, showing us that the rowing is spraining her shoulders and again I felt pitiful towards her. So when we arrived ashore, we gave her the tip that we had initially planned to give. And all was done, until my friend from a different sampan asked us, "Did the rower showed you her house while we were gliding through?" I said "Yeah, why?" and she said "Mine, too!"
All of them were using cheap sympathy to get tips!! They used the same line with each group of tourists in different sampans to make us feel bad for them and hand them with more and more tips. I mean, don't get me wrong, I was about to give you a tip without the sad story anyway, but you just didn't have to fool us like that. So, if you are planning on going to ride the sampan, try and see if this happens to you too. haha..
Ahhh.. the food.. I don't know bout you but when I was in Ho Chi Minh I enjoyed every bit of my food tasting and eating experience. The tour guide brought us to halal Vietnamese restaurants and we had our lunch and dinner like we were some rich person, seriously! We had breakfast at the hotel and only ate like fruits, pure rice porridge, bread and cereal. But during lunch and dinner is where the fun begins. Lucky for us, the food in Vietnam are somewhat similar to what we have back home. They eat rice and with various dishes and gravies, and I think they have that little chinesey touch to it where there would always be soups available with each meal. Not to forget, spring rolls. Hehe.. So food wise, there was no problem at all.
All in all, I had such a swell of a good time in Ho Chi Minh. The entire trip was balanced in such a way that there were time for historical and cultural experiences as well as shopping. It was indeed the best closing trip for 2014 and if you're still on the fence of deciding whether to go or not to, to Vietnam, I would say GO! Hehe.. It is a place suitable to bring your entire family and kids, it is surprisingly clean (they have water bidets in the toilets, yay!), food was nice, not so much of a crime city although you still have to watch your bags (bring cross body bags when shopping) and the overall experience is definitely worth a lifetime.
So yeah, I was majorly happy when I got home to tell the trip stories with my family!
If you're wondering, I went to Ho Chi Minh under the care of Glocal Travel cause it was one of the most affordable ones I could find and I must say, it was a satisfying decision I made! :D
Here's the info easily summarised for you if you're planning on travelling somewhere but not sure which travel agent to go to:
Glocal Travel & Tours Sdn Bhd
Lot 5.46 Level 5TH Floor Wisma Central Jalan Ampang 50450 Kuala Lumpur
+60321664588 +60321814588 +60172800966
Sales@glocal.com.my / email@example.com
PS: I wish I can travel with you guyssss after this!!