Travel: Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam (Day 3)

For our last day, we booked for the half day tour to Cu Chi Tunnels. We woke up around 6:30 am and had our breakfast at Kim’s Cafe, a cafeteria few meters away from our hostel. My breakfast meal has a big serving compared to Darwin’s Bacon and Egg Meal. 🙂

Big Breakfasts

After that, we went back to our hostel and waited for the tour guide to pick us up. Assembly time is 8:15 am so we’re already set as early as 8:00 am. The trip is a 2-3 hr ride from Saigon to Cu Chi, where the tunnels are located. Just like the previous day, we spent most of the time sleeping inside the bus.

Before we reach Cu Chi, we had a short stop over at the Handicapped Handicrafts Center, where they create souvenir items for sale. Most people working there belong to families of war victims. They come up with works of art out of ordinary things and the finished products are put on sale. I’m satisfied with taking pictures because the cheapest item you can get costs around $5USD  which is expensive. hehe

Handicapped Handicrafts Center

Souvenir Shop

With various souvenir items for sale

At last, after a seemingly long road trip, we already arrived at Cu Chi Tunnels. We purchased our tickets at the ticketing booth and afterward, followed our guide to start the tour. First thing on our list was to watched an audio-visual presentation showing the history of the Vietnam War, VC’s, the tunnel and Saigon’s geography. It’s just like listening to your Social Studies teacher way back in high school.

Audio-Visual Presentation

After the short film watching, we then proceed to the main attraction. We walk through the jungle section to check the underlying secrets of the place. There, we saw the trap door that was used as entry into the tunnels. You won’t notice it first as it is camouflage perfectly among the dried leaves and surroundings. There is also a right way of entering and exiting the trap door. Next, we were brought to the booby trap with spikes made of bamboo. Actually, there were different kinds of improvised traps created during that time, each of which has a specific purpose.

Trap door way to the tunnels

Booby Traps and other improvised traps

Next, we entered the Cu Chi Tunnel. Cu Chi Tunnel in fact is very long, extending up to a 100+ km long. But we didn’t finish the entire 100 km, just a few meters only for the sake of trying it. The tunnel is a popular tourist attraction and everyone can experience going inside and feel the thrill. We did a duck walk inside because only 1 person can fit inside the tunnel. It was hot and smelly inside the tunnel, so we’ve decided to find the way out to the nearest exit.

Cu Chi Tunnels

After the tour and tunnel experience, we also tried the riffle shooting. I was excited at first but chicken out at the last moment. *hehehe* So Darwin ended up shooting alone. I can’t stand the loud gunshots so I backed out immediately. Boooo major failure!

Here goes the action star

After the tiring afternoon trip, we headed back to Saigon. Since this is our last day, we already check out in the morning prior to the tour. We get our bags and bid goodbyes to the owner, and look for a place where we can have our late lunch. Chances of eating at Jollibee Vietnam is futile since we don’t have enough time left because our flight is around 5:30 pm. We just bought some souvenirs and headed immediately to the airport.

Souvenir Shopping

…and more items

Aside from not being able to eat at Jollibee Vietnam, everything else is great – food, company and experience. Vietnam is not really flashy and touristy as compared to other Asian destinations but it’s worth the experience. I’m looking forward to our next adventures together, woohoo! =)

Anniversary Trip

Travel: Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam (Day 2)

For our 2nd day, we booked for the Mekong Delta Tour. We woke up at around 6:00 am since the tour guide will pick us up at the hostel at 7:15am. We just bought some breads at a store nearby for breakfast.

Waiting for the Tour

It’s a 3 hour long ride from Saigon (aka HCM) to Cai Be, where we will board the boat to explore the Mekong River. It’s just like going to any province in the Philippines and there are stop overs in between.

Saigon to Cai Be

Funny thing is, in one of our stop overs, Darwin was ‘forced’ to buy this ‘shades’ just to ditched the guy who’s selling it. It was funny in such a way that he even demonstrated to us how cool the shades is, by flaming the lenses using a lighter. It was hilarious because who would ever thought of burning those lenses in the first place. haha! 🙂

Immortal Shades

After our arrival in Cai Be, we board the boat that will take us to the Mekong River. I did my research and found out that Mekong River is rhe world’s 12th longest river and 7th longest in Asia. It encompasses not only Vietnam but also other Asian countries such as Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, China and Myanmar. Amazing! You will also see in the river the lively floating markets and bargaining among the buyers.

Mekong Tours

Mekong River Tour in action

Floating Market

After the boat ride, we went to a local orchard for lunch and to see the handicrafts and daily activities of the local people. We saw how the coconut candies were made as well as the durian crispies.

During lunch break, we were also given time to do other activities such as strolling around the village, go biking or just sit and relax in the hammocks…La Dolce Vita. 🙂

Handicrafts and Souvenirs

Coconut Candies

Durian Crispies

Biking, Sightseeing and Relaxing =)

After lunch, we went on a rowing boat ride through the canals of Mekong River. We just sit in the boat, enjoying the view of nature and the boat ride. We even met some new friends (Derrick and his Dad) from Singapore. 🙂

Rowing Boat Ride

Darwin and New Friend

We had a 40 minute boat ride going back to Vinh Long City. There is a land market there which is just similar to the local markets in the Philippines. We can even smell some dried tuyo and pusit as we walk back towards our bus. Hmmm…

Vinh Long Market

After a long day, we had another 3 hour long ride going back to Saigon. It was very tiring even if we’re just sitting the entire time. We went back to our hostel to have a short rest and to recharge our camera battery. After that, we roam around the city again to look for a place to eat. Sad to say, we never found Jollibee Vietnam, which is our target place to eat. So we ended up eating at Quan 71, a local restaurant in the city. The food is ok, enough for hungry people like us. hahaha! I like the seafood fried rice though, we even ordered for a 2nd serving.

Dinner at Quan 71

After the dinner, we went back to our place again and get a well deserved rest to prepare for next day’s adventure – the Cu Chi Tunnels Tour. <to be continued…>

Travel: Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam (Day 1)

Last weekend, Darwin and I went on a 3d/2n weekend trip to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It’s our anniversary then so we spent some fun time together away from Singapore. I’m not sure if Darwin enjoyed the trip as much as I did (I hope he did). But for me, I enjoyed the experience for many reasons – people, food and the time itself we spent together. Exploring the city and getting lost together makes a fun adventure after all.

We got our tickets via Tiger Airways. We exchanged our SGDs to VNDs at the airport and departed Singapore around 7:30 am. We became instant millionaires that day because we were able to exchange our money to 2,000,000 VND. We arrived at Vietnam’s Tan Son Nhat Int’l Airport around 8:30 their local time and the time difference between Singapore and Vietnam is one hour.

Departure to Ho Chi Minh

After arriving from the airport, we took a cab and went to our hostel. We stayed at Vy Khanh Hostel along Pham Ngu lao Street. We weren’t able to see the place right away since we have to walk along the narrow alleys to reach the place. Never did we realized that along those narrow alleys were a multitude of hostels and guesthouses to be found. We were lucky since our location is near to almost everything – city attractions, travel agencies, shops and etc. The hostel got rave reviews from previous clients because of their service. The hosts, Vy and her family, were really helpful and accommodating. She helped us booked our tours and provide some suggestions on how we can safely roam around. I recommend this place for those wishing to visit HCM.

Vy Khanh Hostel

Day 1:

We spent the 1st day just walking around the city. I was surprised to the number of motorcycles in Vietnam. One of the tour guides told us that the number of motorcycles in the city alone is close to 4million. It outweigh the number of cars and other vehicles in the city. One friendly tip while walking along HCM – is to look across all directions – left, right, back and front because you might not notice the fast speeding motorcycles coming your way.

Motorcycles in Vietnam

Aside from the motorcycles, bicycles are also common means of transportation for the people. We rented bikes which we can use for our tour. Unfortunately, it rained in the afternoon that’s why we weren’t able to visit those famous places within the city.

Bicycle ride in HCM

We went back to our guesthouse and went out in the evening instead to have dinner. Luckily, we found this buffet place with overflowing sea foods. It cost us around 250,000VND each and it’s worth it!

Darwin and I have buffet for dinner


…and Food again

After the maka high-blood dinner, we walk back to our place again but decided not to go home yet. So we stop over at a local bar, just a few meters away from our hostel. Darwin and I spent the laid back moments that night by having a couple of drinks (Bananarama, Saigon by Night, Saigon Passion and Mojito) and some stories. I really missed those days when we do that. *sigh*

Drinks at Night

The night didn’t end there. After some drinks, we went to some eatery and ate again. After all those sea foods, I thought I’m already full but no. We were still able to have some midnight meal after that. I got the Chicken Gruel which is similar to our local lugaw version. It’s good, authentic Vietnamese dish.:)

Chicken Gruel, Vietnamese Dish

Chicken Gruel and me

I feel bloated after all the eating we did and I was able to sleep well that night. We need to regain our energy in preparation for the next day’s Mekong Delta tour. <to be continued…> 🙂