Wednesday 3 April 2013

Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh (Day 4)

I really wanted to go to Mui Ne to see the sand dunes!!! But the bus ride there takes 5/6 hours and the people who ran the tours told me that they'd recommend two days for Mui Ne. Besides we've already booked our hotel for 4 nights PLUS we'd miss out on our awesome hotel buffet breakfast! HAHA. So no Mui Ne for this trip aww :(

So I decided that we should take a bus to Vung Tau! I saw this place when I was doing homework on Vietnam and it looks like a pretty nice city beside the beach. And I wanted to see the Jesus statue on the mountain, it looks so cool and amazing from the pictures! Like totally out of a movie.

This is the bus company (first picture) that we bought the tickets from. This is actually the office in Vung Tau, I can't seem the find the photo of the bus company in HCM, but anyway look for big orange buses along Pham Ngu Lao (the backpacker street), should be easy to spot. We bought our tickets to Vung Tau at this bus company near our hotel, the ticket is 90,000 Dong (approx. SGD5.30) per person. Got on the bus feeling really excited but nervous, we were the only foreigners on the bus. The bus boy/conductor gave an introduction about thanking you for choosing their service and how they will have a short break on the journey in Vietnamese. Yes I totally understood what was going on. The bus was really comfy and clean :)

This is the rest stop. Doesn't it look like a resort?! I was totally in awe when we reached because I did not expect such a luxurious rest stop! The toilets were really clean too!

So we finally reached the bus office in Vung Tau (the picture above) and we were like ok, what's next... Everyone hopped onto a green taxi and went off! I saw the Jesus statue at the far corner of the mountain and I was mentally calculating how long it would take to walk there UNDER THE SCORCHING SUN. So I headed to the office and showed them the picture the of Jesus statue along with some hand signs. Luckily there was a lady who could speak some English and there's free taxi service to take you to your destination!!! \o/\o/\o/ So the cab driver drove us to the bottom of the mountain with the Jesus statue and we began our ascent. It was a lovely climb and you get to enjoy the sea view and breeze. Really loved it.

SO majestic. :) You can even enter the statue and climb up to the top! You have to be decently dressed, not sweaty and leave your bags outside though. The starcase inside was REALLY narrow and the ceiling was pretty low. I think tall people would face a problem climbing. And when you reach the top (you'll be standing 'on' Jesus's arms), the barrier is quite low too and one arm can only fit around three people? Obviously built long ago when people were shorter and alot skinnier. I was a bit scared when I reached the top because it was really high up and the space was so small but after I had one arm to myself, I started to feel more relaxed because I can bend down lower. The view was amazingggggg though and the windddd~~~~ I felt so calm and happy. :)

On the way down we met a lovely lady in the souvenir shops who speaks perfect English! She told us a bit about her life here and gave us directions on how to get to the beach.

When we were going to head back to HCM, I went to a hotel and asked the receptionist to help us call the bus company in Vung Tau. She didn't speak much English but was really nice and helpful. Thanks so much. :) So I successfully booked us a place on the bus back to HCM and asked for a cab to pick us up from the hotel. When the staff asked me for our current location, I thrusted the phone back to the receptionist hahaha, she was a bit surprised at first cos I think she didn't know what I wanted her to do. XD But anyhow, when we were on the bus back to HCM, I felt a sense of achievement and relief. It was an awesome day trip and I think I enjoyed it more than the guided tours because there was the excitement of going somewhere on your own without any knowledge of Vietnamese.

We went back to Mon Hue for dinner and ordered Bún thịt nướng (Noodle salad with BBQ pork and beef) which was really delicious! It was very unique and everything went really well with each other. We also had Hến trộn xúc bánh tráng (baby clams served with cripsy pancakes) and Cuốn hến (baby calm rolls), remember the rice rolls I had in Ben Thanh market? Well these were about 100 times better, actually you just should not eat the ones at Ben Thanh market but eat this!! The baby clams with pancakes weren't really my thing but my mom loved it! And that was the end of the 4th night in Vietnam :)

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