Monday 6 May 2013

Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh (Day 5, last day)

Last day in Vietnam! We had a lazy morning and then headed off to explore the streets around us. We found a local market bursting with locals. It looked pretty much like our wet market in Singapore. Since very few tourists actually come here, we were mistaken as locals by some.. when we don't speak up that is.

We continued walking and found a big supermarket. They have lockers for you to deposit your bags while you shop. FOR FREE. What an excellent fantastic idea it is, Singapore should adopt this.

Oh right, here's the big orange bus which I took from HCMC to Vang Tau. And the bus company along Pham Ngu Lao road. There are buses every hour to Vang Tau if I remember correctly, you can also take these buses to Mui Ne (SAND DUNES T_T) and other places in Vietnam. Useful if you're gonna backpack across Vietnam! The prices are pretty decent, depending on your destination. As I previously mentioned, my ride to Vang Tau was around 5SGD.

We had lunch at this fancy looking Vietnamese restaurant that was recommended by a lovely Vietnamese girl and also featured on TripAdvisor. It was flooded with tourists, hence the price was a bit higher compared to other restaurants. Still, food was lovely but I had this feeling I was back in Singapore. We ordered Bánh bèo, bột lọc and nem nướng which is one dish by the way. It's a mix of small steamed rice cakes, dumplings and grilled pork meatballs. It's sweet and savory at the same time, I really like Vietnamese steamed rice cakes. They are sooooo smooth. Another dish we had was Bún Cá Thì Là, vermicelli in soup with fish and drill. It was so flavourful!! The drill and whatever other herb that was inside gave it a wonderful aroma and the soup was really tasty! It was a very pleasant meal and I've fallen in love with Vietnamese cuisine.

When our tour van to Cuchi tunnels drove around town picking up other passengers, we caught a glimpse of the town center. And today we decided to walk there and explore. The french (I suppose? Since Vietnam was under the French rule) architecture was beautiful. It didn't feel like the Vietnam I've come to know in the past four days though, here you have your Prada, Gucci and whatever nots, pretty much like our City Hall. We took a break at the harbour nearby and looked on while the locals fish.

Then it was time to head back to the hotel and get ready to go to the airport. But not before snapping some photos of Ben Thanh market and our hotel lobby!

Remember the super cheap bus that took us from the airport to the bus interchange at Ben Thanh market (above)? Well, the last bus leaves for the airport at 6pm. Even though that was a bit early for our flight, we decided to take it and save on the taxi fare. So we went to the bus interchange and got lost in translation. There were just so many people and buses! It wasn't very organized. We tried to ask the staff at the counter, but they didn't really speak English and just pointed in a general direction. So I started looking for the number plate for the bus, 52. There was no proper bus stop like in Singapore, just a general area for buses to come and go. Then I asked this Vietnamese girl beside me if it was the right place to wait for 52 (Thank goodness for the international language of hand signaling), and whether it goes to the airport. She nodded and we waited, thinking the bus would stop right in front of this number plate. BUT IT DIDN'T. I didn't even see it coming but after around 5 minutes of waiting, the Vietnamese girl suddenly caught my attention and pointed at the bus and we were like OH! It's here!? I thanked her profusely and ran up the bus. Mind you, the buses here drive off VERY quickly. When they reach the station, the passengers board and immediately it drives off, so you gotta chop chop! Finally, we bought the bus tickets and caught our breath.

And then it was goodbye Vietnam! But I'll definitely be back! :)

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