Impressions of Ho Chi Minh (Photo Series).

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Our cozy hotel setup at the Silverland Sakyo Hotel. While I appreciated the japanese inspired designs, our room had no windows. We had a really hard time getting up in the mornings without natural daylight.

 

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Despite its allure, I never actually got to bathe in this thing.

 

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A man earning his keep by selling pastries, all precariously balanced on his head. He placed the tray on my head for a short second and had it not had been for the support of his hands, my neck may have snapped. That thing was HEAVY.

 

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Exploring local markets, all of which were selling plenty of fake goods. Kenzo jumpers, Michael Kors bags and Ray ban knock offs.

 

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Being overwhelmed, yet super excited about the array of local food offered at the stalls, all for an average price of 2 Euros.

 

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Incase you weren’t drooling already. This was at Ben Thanh Market. The perfect place to get some souvenirs and food.

 

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As you can tell, I’m pretty darn happy. Pictured are classic vietnamese spring rolls and a wonton noodle soup.

 

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A Banh Mi stand sheltering under a tree.

 

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Next to the famous post office, there was a sort of “book-road” filled with cute cafés and book shops. A great place to come drink a delicious iced-coffee while getting away from the afternoon heat.

 

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Stacks and stacks of second-hand books. I don’t know what it is about them but I have to hold myself back from taking bags of them back home.

 

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This cute little display was located right next to the Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral.

 

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We also visited the Trung Ngyuen Café which is well known for it’s coffee. I loved the originality of the sand floors. I took of my shoes straight away and dug my toes into the sand.

 

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Trung Nguyen coffee beans available for sale. Did you know that Vietnam is famous for its Weasel Coffee? Weasels can pick out the sweetest and ripest coffee berries. They eat them and once the berries are pooped out (still intact) , they are used to make a very aromatic and expensive brand of coffee.

 

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After bad service and much anticipation , I was disappointed that the coffee tasted like bitter medicine and the glass of water which was flavoured with some tea to help cleanse the palate tasted like pee water, or what I would imagine that would taste like. I think i’ll stick to my european coffee from now on haha.

 

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This picture was taken at the War Remnants Museum, which was not for the faint of heart. I knew the Vietnam war had been devastating, but upon visiting the museum, I was left teary-eyed  and speechless. After learning about the horrible torture that civilians were subject to as well as the rape and killing of innocent children and the long-term effects of “Agent Orange”, I couldn’t help but feel a deep sadness for humanity. This photo hit a chord with me because here were these children, who were unknowingly posing with weapons of war, without a care in the world, while other just as innocent children are still victims of war today.

 

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This handsome fella was sticking his tongue out at us as we passed.

As a side note, as you can see , I am no professional photographer nor do I claim to be. I’m just as clueless with a camera as I am with my life but I’m hoping you still get the overall picture (pun intended because I’m such a master of the written word).

– A Pearl of the Orient.

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Good morning, Vietnam!

For the first leg of the trip to Vietnam in February, Benny and I decided we wanted to head to the beach before exploring the city so we headed to Nha Trang via Ho Chi Minh and let me tell you, I have never had a more stressful connecting flight. As we checked in for our first flight to Ho Chi Minh from Bangkok, the counter assistant informed us that they would not be able to transfer our baggage directly to Nha Trang. Instead, we would, upon arrival, have to pick up our luggage, leave the arrival hall and walk to the departure hall and check in all over again to catch our next flight, with a mere 90 mins in-between. Normally, I would’ve been easy but knowing that we had applied for VOA’S (Visas on Arrival) which were subject to inspection and approval after handing over an official letter from the Embassy which was applied for weeks in advance, I had a bad feeling in my stomach since the moment we took off , which ofcourse, was not on time.  Upon arrival, I was ready to pounce like a tiger, till I realised our plane had not directly parked at the terminal. So, we had to catch a bus. After being dropped off at the terminal, we rushed to the office which was responsible for handing us our visas; There were atleast another 50 people waiting, and a bunch of tourists loudly trying to communicate with the officer who on his part, was choosing to ignore their flailing arms and wads of cash. When I did manage to fight my way through, I, half panicked, tried to explain the situation that our flight was due to depart in 50 minutes. While the other officers stood in the background chatting and checking their phones, he cooly told me to take a seat and that it’d be fine. With 35 mins left, our names were finally called. Not only did Benny and I have to jump the immigration queue whilst I was apologising like a crazy person, our luggage had not even arrived at the carousel. How we managed to make that plane is still questionable.

Anyway, we’re here to talk about my impressions of Nha Trang. We stayed at the Alana Nha Trang Beach Hotel, which was (suprisingly) next to a….beach. The first thing that I noticed on the drive from the airport was the vasts amount of ongoing construction of mostly hotels and resorts. Any space that wasn’t occupied looked pretty desolate. Despite the 45 minute drive to where all the action was at, Nha Trang seemed really small. One thing you’ll also notice when visiting are the Russians. I’m assuming Nha Trang is their “go to ” place because there were definitely more Russians than locals . In addition, pretty much everything was written in russian, as well at the menus and the staff were more likely to speak russian than english , which I found amusing. This was only somewhat disappointing in the sense that we didn’t feel like we were experiencing much of the ‘local culture’ and that everything was geared towards tourists. It was only when taking a late night walk towards the “inner city” where the tourists began to disappear and you began to see actual homes and locals riding on their mopeds. Speaking of mopeds, the traffic was crazy. Not only did I really notice the absence of traffic lights and pedestrian crossings, no one actually stopped for you when trying to cross the road unless you were literally in their face. You know that scene in Mulan where the old lady claims to have a “lucky cricket” which will protect her? So to prove her point, she crosses the road blindfolded? Thats basically how you felt, because if you gave a driver eye contact or hesitated in the middle of the road, well, it might not have been pretty.

Though I personally didn’t feel that Nha Trang was the type of place where you had a checklist of a million things to do, I did enjoy lounging on the beach, and visiting the mudbaths at I-resort. If you’re planning on taking a trip there, I would recommend that you go early to avoid the large numbers of people arriving at noon. The street food was also pretty great. Writing this post is making me crave a Banh Mi. What I loved was that each stand had their own unique way of making the sandwich. My favourite one had slabs of butter, pork belly, vegetables and a ridiculous amount of chilli. Hurts so bad, but tastes so good. Seeing as I feel like I have said everything there is to say about my stay, I’ll let some pictures do the rest of the talking!

– A Pearl of the Orient.

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View from the rooftop pool at our hotel.

 

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Enjoying happy hour upon arrival.

 

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Our first meal: Pho.

 

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After pushing through a crowd to see what all the fuss was about, I realised it was because they were about to serve up a massive snake and alligator for lunch.

 

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Taken shortly before high-tide resulting in this poor couple getting everything wet. On a side note, the waves were crazy strong and I got rolled around real good on my first attempt at a swim. There was sand in places it shouldn’t have been.

 

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I- Resort pool.

 

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Trying to figure out if I like the mud, which I decided, I really do. Also you naturally float in it so you can lie on your back and pretend to be an otter… it’s actually pretty fun. Don’t judge me.

 

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Fresh fish, anyone?

 

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Now this was where the action was at. This picture to me, was what what I imagined Vietnam to be.

 

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Had to get some Durian while I had the chance. The hotel would’t allow me past the lobby because of the smell though. Woops.