Travel Destination : Ho Chi Min (A Saigon experience)
Its like you are experiencing an avalanche of motorbikes everytime. The streets are flooded with motorbikes coming from all sides that its quite impossible for a tourist to drive a car or cross the streets. No way.
Seeing and experiencing Saigon for the first time awed me. I admire the way the locals make it to their destination unharmed given their streets' condition - I mean cars making their way through the thousands and thousands of motorbikes, surviving with sheer patience, skill and "beep! beep!" ( blowing their horns all the time!)
Well, I survived that for four days. Thanks to our our local driver Mr Tam who was gracious enough to get us around the city.
Ben Tahn market was the first destination. Here we got to exchange our money to VD. My friend and I were so surprised to become instant millionaires! 100US$ equals 1,74 million Vietnam Dong. Yahoo! LOL. At Ben Tahn, we bought a lot of native casuy ( cashew nuts) and really good (Weasel) ground coffee!
Next on our list was Saigon Square. Good finds. Kipling bags, clothes, shoes and a lot more youre eyes can feast on. Never mind the heat.
We wanted to get some nice beaded bags, some paintings, hand-woven bed sheets, scarf so we hit the Saigon Tax Trade Center. This, by far, is my favorite shopping destination. Fully air-conditioned, reasonable prices and complete with internet cafe, and coffee shops ( Highland cafe) where they serve really good coffee. Love it! This was where we scored really nice leather wallets ( Todd's, Mont Blanc, Mango, Cartier) for a really good price! Good deal.
And so after shopping, the next day, we took a tour around the city. The Notre Dame Cathedral, The Ho Chi Minh Post Office, The opera house, the Reunification - Independence Palace and the War Remnants Museum ( which I liked very much)
We would have wanted to visit Cu Chi Tunnel which will take us about 1 hour drive, but in the end, we opted to taste-test their food!
The Cu Chi tunnel would have been a lot interesting really. From the pictures I have seen and the stories that I have heard, there's just one thing that we can see from here: the vietnamese' wit and intelligence. Imagine digging a 250-km tunnel which they have kept from the Americans for a long time. The tunnels are so small, that only vietnamese people can enter. ( Have you seen how small the viets are? specially the women?) They had traps in the tunnel that secured their "community" underground. Its a real marvel how these people actually thought about it and creating the diggings in silence.
Now, talk about food. I fell in love with Vietnamese food. Healthy but really, really yummy.
I love their Pho (sounds like Fa) - noodles, and their rolls, friend spring rolls, fresh rolls - name it, you will love it. And then theres the soft-shell crabs deep fried into perfection. Ahhhh! So Magnifico.
Of course, a tip to those going to Saigon or hanoi, NEVER MISS Cha ca La Vong. It is simply the best fish meal I have tasted in years! ( Check it out!)
To finish off every meal, this really good-smelling, good-tasting Vietnamese coffee was always a welcome treat. Its just so good, we brought home a lot!
Saigon is not known for good scenic views ( Hanoi and Hue probably are) but I would definitely go back to shop and eat, eat, eat without gaining weight!
Hanoi is next on my list of cities to discover.
I had fun in Saigon, despite the heat and the never-ending flow of motorbikes!