I have been wanting to blog religiously about travel and food trips but due to very busy work and personal schedule, I have not been doing that for the past 2 years or so. But I want to change all that this year, especially since I'm paying Google a certain fee every month for space. Food trips are easier to do but travel posts are extra hard because of the amount of time you have to dedicate in selecting photos, detail researching. etc. But here is to hoping it will all change as long as I put my mind and heart to it.
So this late post happened last 2013, first quarter, me and some friends hopped on a plane, ready to conquer our quick 3-country trip-- Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.
All of us were very excited! We arrived in our first country of destination, Vietnam, at around 1am or 2am.
Ho Chi Minh City at night was like being in Manila, at Ermita or Malate. Our taxi dropped us near where our hostel was located. It was small, a bit cramped at first sight, but our room was just right in size. And we were 5! My My Arthouse is strategically located in Pham Ngu Lao which is the center of all things so that was very convenient. And it was really affordable. If I remember correctly, each one of us paid less than Php500/head per night.
After settling in around 3am, we all went out to gran something to bite and the hostel owner warned us not to bring anything with us, meaning our bags, cameras and phones, just our money for food. We got scared a bit and we did just that.
At just around the block, we came upon this temporary food stall where the table and chairs were low and small and my concern was I might break the seat, but I was wrong. It was sturdy enough. Once settled, we ordered a bowl of Pho each and a bottle of Coke. The first sip of the broth was pure love! The ingredients were fresh and you can taste that while slurping away. We were hungry and all but that quality was the same one I've had in Pho Hoa here in Manila. It was so good! And best of all, I can't believe how cheap our great meal was, all for less than Php60 only. Too bad we did not have our cameras with us so we missed a great shot of us experiencing our first authentic Vietnamese fare in a rustic setting.
MYMY ART HOUSE
|Our home for 2 nights. My My Arthouse is a hostel that is frequented by backpackers and we were surprised the next morning when we saw that our group were the only Asians booked in there.|
|We were millionaires for a day! 100 USD is equal to around 2 million Vietnamese Dong. So that's how it feels to be a millionaire.|
|Streetscapes. A friendly woman selling breads and a portable stall selling spring rolls and meat on skewers. What I regret? Not trying these especially since their prices are very cheap. Oh, I should have!|
|But I got to try this! My ultimate favorite food in HCMC this time -- Banh Mi sandwiches! They were a revelation and a treat to all of us! We all bought a sandwich or two.|
|Here it is! And what's best? Price when converted to Philippine Peso is around 30-35 only. This is simply the best sandwich that I ever had! Up to this date.|
|These are such cute buildings! So small and economical.|
|When you tour the city, you will definitely notice that there are lots of motorcycles EVERYWHERE! Better be aware of this because they do come in fast.|
First tourist stop of the day is at the Cu Chi Tunnels. Located at the Cu Chi district of Ho Chi Minh City, it took us a 3-hr bus ride to get here. The 70km trip was a long one but to see the Cu Chi tunnels was a plan that cannot be missed. The tunnels are an elaborate system of underground tunnels that were used by the Viet Cong soldiers as hiding spots during the 1960s.
It is now a war memorial park and a famous tourist destination. Some tunnels were reconstructed to fit Western tourists who are bigger in body size than the average Vietnamese size.
But before we went there, we stopped at a art factory/store where quality-made ceramics and other art items were displayed and on sale. Here you will see how the workers do the tedious task of piecing together their fragile wares. This was a treat to us visitors because you can see the step-by-step process and on another side, see the beautiful finished products.
ART FACTORY AND SHOP
|Intricate details you will see here.|
|Happy to be here!|
|With a Malaysian backpacker, Wayne, who's doing a solo trip. We dragged him with us and enjoyed swapping short travel stories.|
|The Viet Cong were geniuses in the art of camouflage.|
|Snacks are available|
|Before the guide will conclude the tour, a simple snack made from root crops and tea is shared to all. Basically, to give everyone a taste of what the people before.|
We were all tired from all that walking in the jungle. While on our trip back to HCMC, we slept like the dead! And we still have not eaten lunch. So upon arrival, we ate at the first resto that we spotted. Pho 24!
|Ready to go for more exploration!|
|Wayne, our backpacker new friend, shared to us his map which came in handy. Too bad, we bade him goodbye after lunch.|
|Mandatory street sign shot!|
|Sugar cane juice. So sweet and refreshing!|
Random park along the way
SAIGON NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL
|Street food time! Saw this vendor in front of the cathedral and I cannot help but try it. It was like a taco. It tasted good, I recall.|
|Another structure of French influence. This is the largest post office in all of Vietnam and a famous tourist attraction also. When you go inside, you will see how well-maintained the building is. The tiled floor was a beautiful sight.|
|Our generous dinner! They all look the same but they taste different.|
|This was my rice portion. I put in all the cloves of garlic. Haha!|
|Notice all the motorcycles? It was wild when the stoplight turned green. They were all in a hurry.|
|Their coffee was potent so drink moderately. But it was so good! We bought a lot for home brewing.|
|Well, right after coffee. Next on our list of must-do things is to have Saigon beer. And to just hang out and talk about our day's events. The night was so vibrant and alive and we enjoyed our down time.|
I want to go back again in the near future because just the thought of the Banh Mi sandwich is enough to make me come back. I will also try to visit Hanoi, Hoi An and Mui Ne next time around. And the cost of living here is so affordable! So tourist-friendly.
If you are in search of an out-of-the-country trip and on a tight budget, Vietnam should be tops on your list.
It was fun, Vietnam! =)
Watch out for my Cambodia (Siem Reap) and Thailand (Bangkok) posts soon! =)