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Thursday, 29 November 2012

Ho Chi Minh (Part 2)

For those who had read my Part 1, I hope you find my survival *Tips #1 - #3 useful.  Will continue to share more tips at this post.  In case anybody missed out, click HERE for Part 1.  Now, let's move onto my 2nd day in Ho Chi Minh City ^.^

DAY 2 - 21 Nov 2012

We woke up early for a full day's tour to Cao Dai Temple and Cu Chi Tunnels.  It was a bit of a hassle as we need to move from Lan Lan Hotel 2 back to Blue Diamond Hotel.

Pink hat - Hikosen Cara (bought on the 1st day)
Light liliac top - Iora
Baby blue tights - Uniglo
Gold sequin pumps from Bangkok
Lan Lan Hotel 2's room has got a full length mirror to fulfill my vanity <3

*Tip 4 - Not sure about other parts of Vietnam, but Ho Chi Minh is a conservative city.  Though the weather is warm, most females wear long pants and 3/4 sleeves.  Shorts and spaghetti top are consider indecent.  You only get to see females wearing these in sleazy areas.  Caucasian tourists can wear whatever they like without being stared at, cos' they are not local obviously.  But me as a chinese got weird stares on my previous trip for wearing shorts and spaghetti top.  So, unless you want sexual attention, try to cover up more flesh.

We had buffet breakfast at Blue Diamond Hotel.
Cozy interior with marble tables and western fittings.

Breakfast in both western and oriental spread.

It's kinda difficult for me to open lid by lid to take pics.
Inside were, scramble eggs, sausages, bacon, spaghetti, fried bee hoon, rice noodles and lots more.

Tropical fruits and some salad.

Chose your jam spread and toast your bread!
At the right hand corner is a fresh milk dispenser.

Sandwiches

Pastry, muffins and hot dog buns.

Nearer dish was beancurd skin prawn rolls, can't see what's the other one.

Pho!!!  Add your own broth.

 Sticky rice.

 Savoury condiments for congee.

Paper napkins stacked high on the table.

 Chee Chong Fun (rice rolls) in Vietnam style.

Simple Pho.

 Eat full full before we start the day.

After breakfast, photo taking at the hotel's lobby to kill time while waiting for the coach to arrive.

Like a boss lolxx...

My new boyfriend!
Just kidding, no chance to go "astray" with hubby sticking around, heehee......  Matthew is the supervisor of Blue Diamond Hotel.  He's really cute :X  and other staffs of Blue Diamond had been very helpful too.

I still can vividly remember, during my first visit to Ho Chi Minh, my sister and I were quite lost as to where to go and where to eat.  Matthew and his colleagues had helped to provide information, directions and gave some recommendations.  Anything we weren't sure, we just run towards the information counter for SOS.

If you had read my Part 1, I had visited various locations.  You know what had made my travelling so easy when cab drivers don't understand English?   Ms Paula, the Floor Manager had took the time, to translate all the addresses of the places I want to go in Vietnamese.  All I need to do was to show cab drivers the note  written by her neat and clear handwriting    T______T   Incredibly nice right?  

Didn't take pic with Puala cos' she's prettier and slimmer than me :X  No lah, heehee.... she was rather busy.  Okay, okay, I admit, opposite sex attracts lolxx...... okay back on the track.......

Also, the friendly bell boy would called cabs for us and told cab drivers where we were going.  My hubby absolutely love chatting with him.

Blue Diamond wasn't just a hotel, it's a place where I feel welcome, safe and assured.  I had travelled to various countries, ever stayed at hotels from 3 stars to 5 stars, none was like Blue Diamond of Ho Chi Minh City made me feel so comfortable and unforgettable.  This is NOT an advertisement, I had paid for the stay.  If I ever visit Ho Chi Minh again, I'll return to Blue Diamond for sure!

How about Lan Lan Hotel 2?  No complaints, except maybe for the hard mattress of the beds.  My one night stay there was very pleasant, but Blue Diamond Hotel had totally won my heart and soul with their warm and sincere service ^.^

A bus came at 7.45am to pick us up which drove us to joined another smaller group with only 7 of us in a mini-bus for the tour.  It was a bumpy and long ride, self-takes during the journey.


Passed by many rice paddy fields.
English speaking tour-guide said that the flood in Bangkok had affected their harvest of rice.
Thus export of rice was increased in Vietnam.

After about 2 hours of journey, we made a stop at the Lacquer Ware Factory.  Toilet break was an excuse, they merely hope we make some purchase here, but no worries, they don't hard sell.

Very old looking at the entrance.

The inlays were done using mother of pearl or egg shells.

1st step - Plywoods are applied with black lacquer.

2nd step - Designs being traced on.

3rd step - Filling in colors or ......

inlay designs.

Goddess of Mercy inlay with mother of pearl.

4th step - Smoothening by sanding.



 

Spotted smurf at a corner.

This major "project" took about 6 months to complete.

Retail section.  Humongous vase almost hit the ceiling.


Wanted to buy a pair but they didn't have my size.
Lucky me, cos' the next day, I saw the same slippers selling much cheaper outside.
But didn't buy after considering that I don't normally wear slippers.

Travelled for another hour or so, we had early lunch near Cao Dai Temple.

Tree house which we didn't go up.

We dined at this out-door tent instead.


Here's a clear pic of our mini tour bus.
I know the number plate is not clear, it's 8069 if you are a 4-D freak.

Pork chop with messy veg wasn't impressive.

Veg with sotong and prawns wasn't too good either.

Our mini-bus made a turn and we were at Cao Dai Temple in less than 5mins.
The Cao Dai Temple was build between the period from 1933 to 1955.
Cao Dai is a fusion of  Taoism, Buddhism, Cofucianism, Christianity and Islam.
Very confusing.....

Shoes are not allowed into Cao Dai Temple.
Not a very nice sight, and it stinks a little (pinch nose, held breathe >.<)

With this here comes my *Tip 5!

*Tip 5 - If you are visiting Cao Dai Temple, wear cheap sandals or slippers.  It's really troublesome to fidget with shoe laces under the sun (see below pic)  Or worst, your shoes might wore off by other people by mistake or on purpose.


Main entrance of Cao Dai Temple.
See the flag with 3 colors?
Yellow represents Buddhism,
Blue represents Taoism, and
Red for Christianity.

Two guards in white robe make sure nobody steps into the forbidden boundary in front of the temple.

Why???  According to their believes,  spirits will gather at the entrance of the temple during prayers to listen to the chants.  So it's better for humans to keep clear in case we "step" onto them. 


Entered into the temple, my jaw dropped involuntarily at the sight of the
high ceiling with painted sky-blue with clouds;
columns with dragons encrusted
 and flooring with vintage clay tiles.

Worshippers were assembled in neat rows.
At a glance,  wearing flowing white robes made them looked holy......
like immortals or saints!
The music and chants were soothing and ear pleasing.
I felt as if I was transported to another era or an unknown platform by time machine.

Close up of the clay tiles.

 Eye in triangle is called Divine Eye, it's a symbol of Cao Dai.

Close-up of the exterior of the temple.

The area is very big outside the temple.

Overall, it's an eye opening experience but not sure if it's worth it to endure more than 3 hours of ride for this.  After this was another 1 hour ride to Cu Chi Tunnels, this is definitely worth the trip.

It wasn't so crowded in the afternoon, nobody at the ticket booth.

 Passageway where "adventure" began....

Heaven did me a great flavour by giving me a cloudy afternoon.
My skin was saved from the sun!

Most visitors were Europeans, rarely you see any tourist from asia.
We were now stepping on the area where Vietnam war took place from 1955 - 1975.

Vietnam soldiers hide themselves from enemies in pit holes like this.
They made the holes really small, so that U.S. army with bigger build could not squeeze in... lolxxx...

Now you see me,

now I am gone lolxx....

They forgotten to mention that one should not enter if he/she is plus size.
Kena stuck in the tunnel hor, that's it man, I'm dead serious.

Not able to take any decent pics, this was the best I could manage.
 The tunnel was dark with mouldy smell and screams of panic Luis -___-|||
This tunnel happened to be bigger, the one I tried last year was much smaller.

Hubby was very ya ya (proud) when he came out from the 10 metres trial  "No big deal lah, the tunnel not that small what, quite easy to move around leh......."  Me:  "Hello Sir, how about you go another 30 metres trail and see?"

During war, Vietnamese hide themselves underground,
even cooking stoves were build underground.

They were very poor and could only wear sandals made out of tyres.


Visited other areas like their hospital, dining area and also seen how they create weapons and floor traps etc.   The photos didn't turn out too well, not sure what's wrong with me.

There's a shooting range, but the charges were very expensive.
The cheapest bullet was 35,000VND each and need to purchase minimum of 10 bullets.

So the boys see look around without shooting.
\



See the heap of bullet shells on the ground.

Luis took pic with figurines of Vietnam soldiers.

Before we end our tour at Cu Chi Tunnels, we had steam tapioca and tea.



This full day tour with Cao Dai Temple and Cu Chi Tunnels was booked at Blue Diamond Hotel @USD14.

Before heading back to our hotel, the tour-guide brought us to a shop that sells coffee.  I was so tired that I forgotten to ask for the address and didn't take any pics except for these scary wine bottles at the entrance of the shop ~~


--______--|||


Both hubby and me don't drink coffee, but he bought some back for his colleagues.
The pics taken when we came back to Singapore.

Weasel Drip Coffee 250,000VND/S$14.70

Banmethout Coffee which comes with metal drainer, if remembered correctly, it's 190,000VND/S$11.18.

3-in-1 Weasel Coffee 375,000VND/S$22


We were tired and sticky all over by the time we reached the hotel.  Decided to go for western food before Luis lose his chubby-ness.   He wasn't use to local food and hadn't been eating much.  

Here we were at The Black Cat.
This place was recommended by ladyironchef.

We sat at the ground level but took a pic of the 2nd level.


This restaurant has got this giant burger of 1.5kg!
It's called the Big Cheese @333,000VND/S$19.59
Big Cheese would be just nice to share among the 3 of us but we didn't order that cos' I thought of trying different dishes.  Regretted my decision.

Saigon beer for papa;

Fruit juice for mama;

and Dr Pepper for baby.

Western food sure went along with local chilli sauce =P

Seafood stew rice, so so only.

All-day-breakfast steak with egg white, was okay only.

This simple burger and fries were the BEST!
We had specially request them not to put onions/lettuce in the burger for Luis, sigh.....
I managed to steal a few bites and it was soooooooo YUMMY!!!
While the outside of the meat patty was brown, inside was pink and juicy, omg.....
I really hate myself for forgetting to take a pic to show the pink patty!
And this pic is not doing the delicious burger any justice.


As such, I can be quite sure that THE BLACK CAT is really good at burgers.
Address - 13 Phan Vat Dat, District 1
Tel: 38 29 2055

THE BLACK CAT is tucked in a small alley,
walked out of the main road is Hotel Continental Saigon and Parkson.

Hotel Continental Saigon's out-door cafe, very french looking.

Nothing much in Parkson and from there we strolled back to our Hotel.
Apologise that my photo-skills dropped together with my energy level.
Here's our spacious 40m2 Luxury Room with a queen bed and a super single.





 



I had forgotten to mention that we had foot massage at the 1st floor of the hotel on the first day.
It was so good that we went for it again on the 2nd day.
Lunch buffet which we didn't try was 130,000VND/S$7.65.
Foot massage was 200,000VND/S$11.76!!

70mins of foot massage includes hand, head, shoulders and back massage!
And they gave powerful back twists which made us moan in pleasure :X omg........
I'm going to miss this dearly back in Singapore.


Time flies during holidays, crawls during working days in Singapore.  Stay tuned on my last day's happenings in Ho Chi Minh City at Part 3.  Thank you for reading!

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