Friday, June 25, 2010

Saigon Love - Day 1

Why Saigon? Where is Saigon? And where is Ho Chi Minh? These are some Qs I’ve encountered from families and friends regarding my next trip. Actually, Seoul is our top list but since our budget is not sufficient we have decided to divert our plan. This is the time when Ms.N suggested Saigon! Well, why not!! Kadang2 I feel bored with my two favourite cities (SG & KL) and mulling over part of my 2010 resolutions and indeed I came up with this: I want to go to countries I’ve never visited before. We planned for almost 3 months, do surveys, google about the city, halal restaurants, interesting places & not forgetting the tour guide (Yes! We have our own tour guide exclusively for four of us only – thanks to Ms. Pinky J ). Now, mari dengar saya cerita…..

1/ Flight

Our flight was brought by Air Asia via KL. It was a relief during our journey to HCM City that only flight stewards were on board. At last, sedap mata memandang for female passengers! J

2/ Arrival at Tan Son Nhat International Airport

We arrived in sunny HCM City, where we were met by a smiling Korean-actor inspired (Ms. D thinks he is) tour guide ‘Mr.Minh’ who has my name on a place card. We were given a VIP treatment at the Immigration counter (kena bawa to the diplomat counter & we did not have to join the queue) Yippieeee!!!!

Pretty soon, we are on road driving up to busy crazy streets of HCM City!! Welcome to HCM City!!!!! At this moment, we jadi sakai a bit, and we non-stop talking whilst enjoying the scenery! I think c Minh cakap dalam hati “Nasib lah aku terpaksa guide tourist yang bibiran”! Huhu

3/ Hotel

We stayed at Mifuki Hotel (ohh..please mind the name :) )for 3 sleeps. I purposely booked this hotel as it is near to a halal restaurant (less than 3-min walk). Booked from and got good price (stay 3 nights pay 2 nights only). A quiet but cosy and good service. I give this hotel 4/5.

4/ City tour

Right after big lunch, we started our city tour by visiting:

- Independence Palace: The palace of the President of South Vietnam in 1975. It accommodates 95 rooms and 40K lightings.

- War Remnants Museums: Such a depressing visit and sobering experience. It’s all about the Vietnam War. L

- The Old Post Office, Cathedral, and City Hall.: Now this is the time when my camera’s battery went kaputz. M loving the architecture of the old post office building hence the cathedral and city hall. All are French-inspired. Methinks City Hall looks romantic during night time.

5/ The Night Exploration

One of the most interesting part! Why? Keep on reading! J First, we had dinner at another halal restaurant in Dong Khoi Street (around 10-min by cab). It’s easier when you made surveys first before u belayar. Here, in Dong Khoi Street (where you can find big brands and 5 star hotels) ada 4 halal restaurants, two in Parkson(same building with Continental Hotel) and the other two are just few doors from each other i.e. Bombay Restaurant (Indian restaurant – we didn’t try) and Halal@Saigon (we had dinner here for 3 consecutive nights). Yang best part is, opposite the restaurant is ada masjid namely Dong Du Indian Mosque just next to Sheraton Hotel. While dining at Halal@Saigon, I’ve spotted ada youth main bola depan masjid! Maybe, di sana tempat muslim community meet up kan. A prosperous city to me. J

Right after dinner, we jalan2, singgah at ALDO, singgah OUTSIDE Louis Vuitton, Dolce&Gabbana, Gucci, Omega, etcetera! Siapa cakap Saigon no big brands boutique! Hehe.. Then, we bumped into few shops selling arts, ada canvas painting, embroidery painting (Am an art lover)… how I wish I could borong the paintings! Price quite reasonable & I bought a few for myself.

Going back to the hotel, we decided to go on foot pasal c Minh cakap(you go straight around 10 min, reach hotel already) plus we wanna singgah to the night market kan. So, jadi adventurous lah kan, we jalan2 and at last tercium macam bau sungai! Oh… we are just not far from the Saigon River & we are LOST!! My bad also, I didn’t check on the map earlier (confident inda sesat lah kan). Then, ada this old man approached us and we aksed him the way to Ben Thanh Market (cause it’s near to our hotel) (luckily ia inda tipu the direction to the market). Some streets tempat kami jalan are dark and sunyi already, ada few cabs honk us but we just ignored pasal kami mau jua jalan kaki despite feeling takut & sakit kaki sudah! At last, alhamdullilah, we saw the night market and it was a positive look meaning inda jauh from our hotel. Phewww…. Rasa syukur & to ease our exhaustion, its shopping time! I got myself a nice embroidery bag and pashminas. Meanwhile, Ms.N & Ms.K got themselves few sandals. Btw, I’ve forgotten apa Ms.D beli! Ms.D, apa kita beli??

Finally, we were back to our hotel safe and sound and lost 3kgs? Haha……

Alright loves, that’s all for Day 1. Will continue soon! Have a beautiful weekend everyone! J