as i announced in the previous post that i’m gonna share my journey to three countries that involved in asean; vietnam, cambodia, and thailand. me and three of my best friends had 13 days budget trip, started from sept 15 – sept 27 2012. ok, let’s start the journey. so the first country is vietnam.
we took air asia from jakarta to ho chi minh city. it took 3 hours to go there. the flight was safe and we did not feel any significant turbulence. once we arrived, we were picked up by one of a hostel crew. ronny was sitting in the front seat and surprised to know that the passenger seat is on the right. we thought that the position of the car seat in vietnam was the same like in indonesia LOL. we all were surprised with the traffic in vietnam. there are hundreds of motorcycles and they were driving recklessly. i think indonesian are much better in riding motorcycle, even though they often make me lose my patience. i document the videos of traffic madness in vietnam. unfortunately, i won’t show you there. if you are a friend of mine in facebook, then you are the lucky one who can watch the videos :p
we were driven to my my arthouse hostel. it is a youth backpacker hostel located in pham ngu lao street. the building is located in the in a narrow wet alley when it rains. it was the first time i stay at hostel. we booked a room for 4 persons. so here the room we got; bunk beds and small bathroom inside the room. pretty much satisfied with the room and service, especially the friendly owner named khiem. he is very kind, talkative, and have the most important traits as the owner of hostel; informative.
on sept 16, our first day of trip, we went on shoestring to reunification palace or Dinh Thống Nhất in vietnamese. it is a landmark in vietnam. it was a home and workplace of president during the vietnam war. because we did not hire any tour guide, we did not know much information about the place. just enjoy and take pictures inside hehe. by the way, i like how green and clean a big garden around the building.
we walked for miles to the another most visited place in vietnam; war museum. in the front of museum, there are vehicles that used during the war. when we enter the museum, there are photos from around the world that protested to america to stop the war. we went upstairs and found classified rooms that collect the different themes of photos. we have come to the emotional feeling when entered this place. there is a room with deformed human pictures hanging on the wall. it makes me sad every time i remember how scary and poor they are. what a jerk american. looking to the next room, there are photos during the war and what weapons used during the war.
after drowning in sorrow, then we walked for miles to the next destination; saigon notre-dame basilica. we went through big green yet peaceful park close to the next destination. it is my dream park and i think it is the proper and qualify park for sinetron shooting LOL! notre-dame is located near reunification palace. it is a big beautiful church with birds flying around. few meters to the church, there is central post office. i love the interior of the post office. besides providing mail service, saigon central post office also provides money exchange and lot of souvenirs, in case you want to send a gift.
it comes to lunch time! because we want to live like local, we follow lonely planet’s advice to have a lunch in pho hoa, the best pho restaurant in town. it is located in pasteur street. when we arrived, we met bunch of vietnamese and none of them are foreigner. the owner and waitresses can’t speak english, so i guess lonely planet gives the right advice. i repeated my words before while eating pho with meat that i ordered. it was a plate full of beef with tasty taste! i forgot the exact price but i estimate it costs for 35,000 in rupiah.
we continued our journey to jade emperor temple and the lafayatte of ho chi minh city, town hall, as you can see above. because of the sky getting darker, we went home and declared that we have finished our ho chi minh city tour.
on sept 17, we joined tour that guide us to the highlight destinations; cao dai temple and cu chi tunnels. we were picked up in the morning and rode a bus for hours. the first destination was not cao dai temple. we visited the handicraft factory which is run by handicapped. mostly are victims of vietnam war. they made paints, ceramics, and others. i’m so proud of these handicapped people who has big effort to live their life.
after visiting the handicraft factory, we all were brought to cao dai temple (read: kaw-dai). cao means “high” as the heaven. dai means God. cao dai means the highest place where God regins. the weather was hot and the sky was clear. thank God because i can take clear and great photo, as you can see above. we attended the spiritual ceremony that lasts for 45 minutes. so, what i have got from the tour guide that vietnamese embrace 4 most religions; buddha, hindu, taoism, and confucianism. in cao dai temple, these religions’ believer pray together.
and here we go to cu chi tunnels. cu chi tunnels was founded as the hiding place for vietnamese during vietnam war. there were 160,000 heads lived underground, and amazingly, they did activities such as cooking, taking a bath, and sleeping there. yes! under the deep, smell, fuggy, and dark tunnels. i can’t imagine how to share a room for those number of heads under tunnels and during the war.
as you can see in the picture above, there is a square hole and a woman gets into the hole. yes, it was the largest, once again, the largest entrance hole at that time. the hole was covered with the wood and leaves to disguise from rival. the photo that shows me posed like screaming for help, was taken in the entrance of the tunnel. you can get into the tunnel if you are brave enough with dark fuggy room. make sure that you don’t have asthma before get in.
after trying to walk in the deep fuggy tunnel, we went back to ho chi minh city and were dropped in ben than market. this is one of the most visited place in ho chi minh city. because we arrived in the late evening, the market has closed. but thank God, there is night market around ben than market. we spent our dong for dinner.
the next day, sept 18 was our last day in ho chi minh city. because we have visited the most visited place in the city, we decided to visit the not-so-famous place; a museum near mekong river and opera house. there is no difference between mekong river and ciliwung river because both of them are dirty. we visited a museum, i don’t know what museum it is. when we entered the building, we just knew that the museum tells vietnamese prisoner during their important historical moment which i don’t know what it is. and the last is opera house. nothing to do here, but take a picture for documentation.
around 3 o’clock, me and my other two friends, keti and ronny picked up yudis at notre-dame basilica church. he catch up the schedule because of pre-graduate requirements. after gathered, we went back to hostel and waited for midnight bus to cambodia.
overall, i love ho chi minh city. from 1 to 5 heart meter, i dedicate 4 hearts for ho chi minh city. i love the city layout, the wide and clean sidewalks, the big green peaceful park, shady trees, and the food called banh mi. i love it all despite of the traffic madness there LOL!