For the day 2 of my Vietnam trip, I went on a city tour. I know that I could have done this on my own but given my very limited time of stay, I opted to join a group tour. It only costs 199,000 VND anyways so it’s all good.
The day started with breakfast. Still the same but now without the sausage. Didn’t really like the one in Day 1. The coffee was a bit extra strong. So good. 🙂
For this trip, I get to be with two other Filipinos (Mom and daughter) for the trip. There was actually a group of Filipinos on my Day 1 trip but I only get to talk to them on the latter part of the trip cause they thought I’m Malaysian. Actually, all thru out the trip, I’ve been asked more than 5 times if I am Malaysian. At the market, they even quote Ringgit prices. When I went home, I wore this shirt and jacket just to say, “Filipino po ako!” 🙂
We were again fetched from our hotels and we’re led to a green bus. It was the same kind of tourist bus I had the other day. When we got in, I again chose a window seat. This time determined to say “No” if someone asks for it. After just a few blocks, we stopped and had to get off the bus. We were transferred to a smaller one – a coaster. I guess the tourists riding the coaster are bound to the CuChi tunnels, thus the switch. Plus we were smaller in number so the coaster bus would work just fine. When we transferred to the coaster bus, I took the very front seat (adjacent to the driver) so I could get a good look at the city during the tour. It is on that seat that I get to see that it seems Vietnamese people have a death wish when riding their scooters/ motorcycles. As in they would be swerving at the front of the bus. Ignore traffic signs. Beat the red light. Traffic lights are there for a reason. They are not mere suggestions. There were more than 10 times that I cringed thinking we would be hitting some riders. Fortunately, none of that happened.
Our first stop – War Remnants Museum . I love museums. It amazes me to see how people live when I was still not around. I like seeing relics. I love anything that has any history on it. For this museum though, it was different. I had been to war museums before (love the one in Corregidor ) but this would just make you tear up. They did not just show you what arsenals were used during the war. They show you pictures. The pictures of those who died from the war, families that were separated, babies with abnormalities due to chemical warfare and soldiers who had to kill their opponents. Those soldiers. Those guerillas. Those who need to kill another person. I cannot imagine how they felt after. When I get upset and I say mean things, I would still feel guilt even if I was ‘right’. And that is just for uttering mean words. But for those man and woman, they have taken lives. And they did not do it ‘cause they are mean or they just want to. It was part of their duty. Those who start a war would have probably drank a gallon of unicorns blood.
Anyways, I am a tourist so I did what a tourist usually does. Take pics. But I cannot take pics of those people. So I have this.
And this is so true….
This one. See the caption? In war, material things lasts. Not people.
This is a good work of art. Made from salvaged metals used during the war.
Right after the museum, we went to this coffee shop where they gave out free samples of coffee and tea. I think this is a tie up with the travel agency. To get the tourist to buy their products. Anyways, I tried their Coffee Alamid but didn’t buy any. Was too expensive. J
After the coffee and tea sampling, we went to China Town where Thien Hau Pagoda is located. Mr. Than (our tour guide) explained that the Chinese people settled in this part of the city and have the temple created. Initially it was only the Chinese who visits the temple but it is now open to all who practice the same religion. I love the intricate design of the temple.
There is also this activity open to all who visits the temple. For a fixed donation, you would get a piece of paper where you put in your name, age and wish. They put it at the top of a long coil of incense (I think) and light up the lower part of the coil. Supposedly, once the ember reaches the piece of paper and it burns, your wish might come true. The temple was filled with the smell of incense.
After the visit to the temple, we were brought to Binh Tay Market. We were given 45 minutes to go around and buy whatever it is that we would want as souvenir. I wasn’t able to buy anything here. I was set that I would be buying in Ben Than and in Saigon Square.
After the market, lunch. We were again brought to a partner restaurant and had our lunch. I learned from my dinner the other night that I can’t really finish one serving of the food in Vietnam so I just got one order of beef pho and iced coffee. Only costs 75,000 VND. After lunch, we again visited another Handicapped Handicrafts. Needless to say, I didn’t even try to look for the items on sale. J
Our next stop was at the Reunification Palace . Learned a bit of history on why it was called that way. On the same room wherein the South and North Vietnam agreed to unite, we were given a brief history of politics. Mr. Than also said that the Palace is no longer in use and that political activities is done more in Hanoi . Thus Hanaoi is considered the poltical center while Ho Chi Minh is the financial center. The tour of the palace consists mostly of showing us different rooms.
I also got this great shot of the view from the top floor of the Palace looking out into the streets.
After the Palace, it was a very short ride to Notre Dame Cathedral. Too bad we already had to leave at once. So after a short prayer, we had to live and just check out the façade of the Post Office which was just beside the Church. Didn’t have the time to see the inside of the building. We however chanced upon this couple who seems to be having their pre nuptial photoshoot at the side of the Church. So cute. J
The tour ended at around 4:00 PM and the three of us went back to the hotel. We agreed to meet at around 6:30 at the lobby so we can go shopping at Be Than, Saigon Market and go back to the Coop Mart for more coffee. J From the hotel, we hailed a VanSun taxi (recommended by the Hotel) and went directly to Ben Than market. We were told by our tour guide that the market is open until midnight but when we visited, half of the stalls were already closed. I just ended up buying shirts for my sisters and brother. We then walked towards Saigon Market. Along the way, we saw this mini version of a local transportation- Cyclo. Back at the Reunification Palace , it costs around 390,000. Here, I got it for only 180,000. J Cute!
At Saigon Square , I got 3 kipling wallets for 65,000 VND each. Quite sure its just an imitation but it’s good! From Saigon square, we got into another VanSun taxi to go to the Coop Mart to buy more coffee. Got all of this for 41,000 each. I actually bought 5. 3 I’ve given away, 2 is mine. J
We got back at the hotel around 8:00 PM. We initially wanted to dine out but we were just too tired. I was to leave that night at 10:30 PM while Hazel and Haven (the mother and daughter companions I have) would be going on a 12 hour bus ride going to Cambodia . They would be leaving at 6:30 AM the following day. So instead of dining out, we all opted to just go back to our rooms and order room service. Unfortunately, when I asked for room service, they can no longer cook food for me. I think the cook already went home. I was being offered some instant noodles but I really don’t like to eat that at that time so I went out again to buy some sandwiches at the same restaurant I had dinner the night before. I ordered chicken and burger sandwiches which comes with fries. I sent the burger sandwich to the mother and daughter team just to be sure that they also get to eat something warm. After the meal, I had a quick shower, checked my things are all packed and waited for my ride to the airport.
At 10:30 PM, I was on my way back to the airport. My flight is at 1:00 AM and I arrived at Manila at 4:30 AM. I again used the Grab Taxi app and I’m home by 5:30 AM and out again at 6:30 AM to go to work. Yes. Work. You gotta work so you can travel. Unless you won the the lottery. J
All in all, I’d say the trip was good. Had a few misfortune (over priced item at the shop and cliff hanger seat) but I would definitely go back. But this time, I won’t be a tourist. I’d be a traveler. I really prefer to just mingle with the locals. Eat where the locals eat. Get lost wandering the streets. That’s really my kind of travel. 🙂 Next time. 🙂