Friday, 31 March 2017

Vietnam Trip 2017: Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh City (still known as Saigon) is the largest city in Vietnam. It was once known as Prey Nokor prior to annexation by the Vietnamese in the 17th century. Under the name Saigon, it was the capital of the French colony of Cochinchina and later of the independent republic of South Vietnam 1955-75. On 2 July 1976, Saigon merged with the surrounding Gia Dinh Province and was officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City after revolutionary leader Ho chi Minh. The time in Vietnam is 1 hour behind than Malaysia.

Kota Kinabalu did not have direct flight to Vietnam therefore need fly from Kuala Lumpur. When back from Vietnam, I just found out that Johor has direct flight to Ho Chi Minh, so envy!

Ho Chi Minh is full of motorcycles and most of them did not follow the traffic rules. Therefore although traffic light is green for passenger to cross the road, they ignored it and still moving freely. You must always aware of the motorcycle and they also will alert with passenger and will try not to hit you.

Even at the road side also is a road for motorcycle beside passenger so you don’t think you are safe if you walk at roadside. You must brave to cross the road because the motorcycles are endless and is impossible for you to wait for all motorcycles goes away and then cross the road.

Money Changer

19 January 2017, I changed money in Pengurup Wang NBL Sdn Bhd (BG51, Ground Floor) which located in Wisma Merdeka, Kota Kinabalu. The money changer (Tel: 088-265591) is inside of NBL Sdn Bhd. I changed 5,040,000 VND with RM 999.94. The currency rate is 0.01984.

You can be millionaire when in Vietnam because it has many zero on the cash. Sometime too many zero made me confusing. How to calculate exchange rate from VND to MYR? When saw a price, I will ignore 3 zero and divide by 5. Example 15,000 VND = MYR 5. It just an estimate because the real rate keep up and down so it just for reference.

Taxi Service

Read through online, many people suggest use taxi service of Vinasun or Mai Linh. At this trip, I was using Vinasun taxi.  Most of taxi driver did not know how to speak in English therefore you need to provide Vietnamese address for them. 

Taxi fare pay according to the taximeter, upon you go inside, it start with 12,000 VND.  You need to prepare small amount of money when pay for taxi fare because taxi driver did not have small amount of money.  Example taximeter shows 78,000 VND and you pay 100,000 VND then taxi driver will return 20,000 VND to you. It means the taxi fare become 80,000 VND.

Air Asia Flight Stories

Kota Kinabalu (7:05am-9:35am) >> Kuala Lumpur (2:45pm-3:45pm) >> Ho Chi Minh

While waiting the flight to Ho Chi Minh, I went to toilet and saw a door did not close so I push it and saw an Indian woman at there. Ops, sorry :P

In flight depart from Kuala Lumpur, I sat with Pak Cik (Malay uncle) and Mak Cik (Malay aunty). They are from Alor Setar, this also their first time to Ho Chi Minh with family. Their grandchildren even escape school to travel (travel period was not school holidays). Hehe..

When they were young, they even stayed in Labuan for 2 years because Pak Cik joined Air Force. He told me that the first traffic light was near with airport. That time the market was floating market which above the sea. I invited them come Labuan to see the big different or big changing in Labuan.

Ho Chi Minh (9:25am-12:15pm) >> Kuala Lumpur (3:35pm-6:10pm) >> Kota Kinabalu

While waiting the flight to Kota Kinabalu, I went to washroom. When came out from washroom, a lady asked me whether see any kid? She was looking for her. As I did not see so I answered “no” and she continued find at other side. When I went back to waiting room, I saw a kid with curly hair play at counter and suddenly I think of the lady, is the kid is her missing child?

I turned back and find the lady to ask for it because I am not sure. The lady was at other waiting room to ask people whether see a small kid or not. When found she, I asked whether her kid has curly hair and she said “yes” so I bring she to find the kid. Luckily the kid is still at there.

22nd February 2017 (Wednesday)

Kota Kinabalu International Airport >> Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) >> Tan Son Nhat International Airport --- *SATSCO (Airport Taxi) 200,000 VND --- Cititel Boutique Hotel >> Pham Ngu Lao Street >> Vietsea Tourist Co Ltd (Chu Chi Tour Package) >> Bui Vien Street >> Mon Hue Restaurant >> Family Mart >> Sasa Café >> Cititel Boutique Hotel

*SATSCO= Southern Airport Transportation Joint Stock Company

The name card for SATCO as below:-

Early in the morning, we took flight to Kuala Lumpur. In KLIA, we were having lunch and wait for flight to Ho Chi Minh. Upon reach, I was quite surprised that we did not need to fill in arrival card.  After the passport being stamped, our journey was started.

It has many SIM card counters with transportation service. The taxi fare in the morning (180,000 VND) is slightly cheaper than night. After paid for the fare, we went out to look for the taxi. While finding the taxi, suddenly a girl came and guided us.

At night, we went to Pham Ngu Lao Street and Bui Vien Street which very near with each other. In these two streets, you can see many foreigners. At Pham Ngu Lao Street have many tour companies which you can buy for the tour package. We bought Chu Chi Half Day Tour Package.  At Pham Ngu Lao Street has Family Mart which I bought 1 big bottles of mineral water. I found out that many shops have Land God which I first saw in Pham Ngu Lao.

23rd February 2017 (Thursday)

Cititel Boutique Hotel >> Handicapped Handicraft >> Chu Chi Tunnel >> Bac Ha Pho Mien >> Tao Dan Park >> Ben Thanh Market >> Nguyen Trung >> Ben Thanh Street Food Market >> Zen Plaza >> Cititel Boutique Hotel

While waiting bus to Chu Chi Tunnels in Pham Ngu Lao, I found out that architecture of Starbucks is very beautiful.  It seems like did not have windows and customers can sit beside window to enjoy the view.

Ben Thanh Market is full of stalls which sell food, souvenirs, clothes and many more. It also has fixed price zone which you can direct see the price of the product while other zone mostly did not has price, wait for you to negotiate with them. If you like bargaining, you will like this place.

I knew that near Ben Thanh Market has a roundabout which has the statue of Tran Nguyen Han but that time I went, it was renovation so I cannot see it. Ben Thanh Market also has night market.

At the night, has many clothes and food stalls beside Ben Thanh Market. I just take a look for it but did not buy anything. At here, you can see quite many of Malay people because near with Ben Thanh Market has Malay street. At that street have many halal foods.

At fixed price zone, you can found some cheap souvenirs such as couple magnet (big: 9,000 VND and small: 7,000 VND), mirror 50,000 VND and many more.

While on the way back to hotel, we saw Zen Plaza so decided pay a visit. Inside of Zen Plaza, mostly are office and some are restaurant, no recommend you to here.

24th February 2017 (Friday)

Cititel Boutique Hotel >> War Remnants Museum >> Independent Palace >> Diamond Plaza (Food Court) >> Saigon Central Post Office >> Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral >> Book Street (Nguyen Van Binh) >> Pho24 >> Saigon Centre >> Phuc Long >> Ben Thanh Market >> Pho Hai Thien >> Sasa Café >> Roadside >> Cititel Boutique Hotel

We hang out at Diamond Plaza for a while for resting. I ordered a carrot juice (48,000 VND) at Ditto Dely and started write some postcards which bought from War Remnants Museum.

It has two Saigon Centre which near with each other. The one is more traditional way like Ben Thanh market and the other is likes shopping mall. Not so recommend to shop at Saigon Centre because the price did not cheap at all.

In Vietnam, you can see many people like to eat at roadside. Due to hygiene problem, we just ordered juice and have a small talk on small chair with small table. The menu as below:-

I ordered Avocado Blended (30,000 VND). It is yummy with the rich of avocado. The night in Vietnam is beautiful and the traffic still busy.

25th February 2017 (Saturday)

Cititel Boutique Hotel --- Vinasun Taxi 60,000 VND --- Banh Mi Op La Hoa Ma > > Ban Co Market --- Vinasun Taxi 80,000 VND --- Lucky Plaza (Satra Market) >> The Café Apartment (Mango Tree)  --- Taxi 33,000 VND --- Cititel Boutique Hotel --- Vinasun Taxi 195,000 VND --- An Dong Plaza >> Lau De Bau Sen (君建菜馆一店) --- Vinasun Taxi 270,000 VND--- Cititel Boutique Hotel

Luckly Plaza has some floors and 2nd floor has Satra Market which sells many Vietnam products and you can look for souvenirs at here. I bought some bags, food and drinks at here. I even get two apples after done my purchases. 

The envelope package of chocolate is so special with real used stamps. The choices of stamps are quite many for you to choose. The flavors of chocolate only have milk chocolate and dark chocolate. When this chocolate inside my fridge, my little sister curious why I put envelope inside fridge but when she want to take the envelope out, she just knew that it’s chocolate. Hehe..

The Ground Floor of Lucky Plaza is selling arts and crafts, watches & glasses, jewellery and clothes while first floor is selling handbags, shoes and clothes.

On the way to look for The Café Apartment, I saw Bitexco Financial Tower which is the tallest building.

When in taxi, the taxi drive did remind us that must be careful in Chinatown because has many pickpockets. When at Chinatown, I took my hand phone to look for the map to Lau De Bau Sen, a lady told me that must be careful with the hand phone. Look like Chinatown quite scary.

It has 2 An Dong Plaza in Chinatown. It looks like plaza which has many clothes stalls while the other more look like market which has sell some food in ground floor and clothes in other floor.  You can find green bean cake at there. You can go there to take a look but the price also no cheap. You can bargain with them.

26th February 2017 (Sunday)

Cititel Boutique Hotel --- Vinasun Taxi 150,000 VND --- Tan Son Nhat International Airport >> Kuala Lumpur International Airport >> Kota Kinabalu International Airport

When reach airport, the meter showed 140,000 VND but need paid 150,000 VND because included 10,000 VND for airport surcharge.  In airport, need to proceed with screening before go to waiting room. It has a long queue and during queue, I saw many people take off their shoe with sweater. Therefore until my turn, I also took off my shoe for security purposes.

Although I already online check in, upon reach airport must go to the counter for document verification which was showing your passport to the Air Asia’s staff in counter.

While waiting for my friend for document verification, I watch how efficient of the Airport staff to wrap the baggage. It charges different amount for different size of baggage. 

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Chap Goh Mei 2017- Part 2

 [Part 1]

Station 3

The decorations in this station are the most creative.

The body of this hen mostly made by sweets and some beans. Very creative right? I just wonder how to do it and taking how long to finish.

This was my first time to follow procession, make some notes for future reference.

1. Have a short nap or sleeping before the event- the event will last until 2pm.

2. The distance from one station to another station is very far so wearing a comfortable shoe for easy moving.

3. Eat first before the event so that have energy to walk for long hours unless you bring some biscuit.

4. Bring water bottle and put inside bag. When reach in temple, can look for toilet.

5. Some station has seat so sit at there to recharge your energy before go to next station. If not, the leg will super tired.

Station 4

Around 1pm, at here still have many people stay to see the Deities Parade. 

At here has many food stalls to sell food and drinks. It has a wishing and love corner which you can make a wish at there by writing it down.

At here, the decoration is almost the same with previous stations except it has 12 cakes of zodiacs. They are so cute!

The tower is made by lots of sweets. 

Others decoration in this station.

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