Tell me what comes up in your mind while you hear Vietnam? Developing country somewhere in Asia? The War? Or an exotic country whose great iced coffee?
Well those are the truth about Vietnam. Laid in the south east Asia, struggled many years because of war until 1975, and now they’re rising with the hope of their 90 millions of popullation.
Last year finally me and my friends booked tickets to Saigon, or now known as Ho Chi Minh City. My first impression of Vietnam is like blast to the past. The airport is quite modern in design, with not many people in it – compared to Soekarno Hatta Airport in Jakarta. Everything seems like in slow motion. Not when you got outside the airport. Cars and motorbikes everywhere, they move unpredictably like buzzing bees.
Saigon, an old city with beautiful old europe-architecture-buildings blended very well with locals tradition. People in Vietnam likes to hang out by the street, drinking their famous iced-milk-coffee, lemon tea, or cold beer. Accompanied by.. If it’s not snack, then it’s hot Pho. Pho is a bowl of simple goodness. Rice vermicelli drown in a soup and sliced medium raw beef, sprinkled with chopped celery.
Been to Saigon, and spent several days alone, strolling down the street in district 1 and had a little shopping is quite an experience. Though I don’t speak Tieng Viet. All transaction can be made by the help of the super invention called calculator. I just simply pointed to things I wanna buy, then the shopkeeper will show you how much you should pay through calculator. Body speaks louder, just like when you travel to a place where you don’t speak the language. If you are a photographer, or someone who really into architecture, Saigon can be very attractive. The building, the people, the history.
Again, living in a bubble is so fun. Ah well, been in so many business trip, and most are spent alone had made me enjoy my time alone. More. Traveling alone help me to find myself again, who I really am, how I react to people, how I managed each problems, how do I make sharp decision in tight timing. Don’t you think so?
When in Saigon I stayed in District 1 area. The district whose much attraction to tourist. The old district, where you can find hotel easily. If you fancy to stay in backpacker area, Pham Ngu Lao is the place. Youth hostels and street bar are everywhere, beer is as cheap as 1 USD per jug, iced coffee and smoothies bar just a blink away! Totally heaven for your appetite! And if you are a girl, who intend to travel alone. I think it’s a safe place, just don’t smile too much to strangers to avoid scam. Let travel book or google be your guide. If you use smartphone, you can buy cheap Vietnamese SIM card and register for its 3G connection, so you can open google maps everywhere. I used Vinaphone there, 50.000 VND for a starter pack includes 30.000 VND credits.
My Indonesian friends often asked me, how’s the shopping spree there in Saigon. Well, here you won’t find huge shopping malls like in Jakarta or Singapore. But you can find some fine boutiques around Dong Koi street, and in Balenciaga Rex Hotel complex in Nguyễn Huệ street. I spotted Marc Jacobs, Loubutin, Burberry, and so on, also Dr Martens. Don’t ask me about the price compared to Indonesian or Singapore price. I totally have no idea.
If you are not keen on those branded stuffs, you just simply go to Cho Benh Thanh, the most famous market in Saigon selling wide range products such as: daily goods, fresh meats, veggies, fruits, flowers, souvenirs, clothes, coffee and tea leaves. Fake ray-bans too. For Saigon natives, this market doesn’t really reflects their market. Benh Thanh is a touristique market, with price a bit rised than the others. But, you just cant miss this market. If you’re patient enough to bargain, you can get good deal for souvenirs. Or just sit down drinking your cold beer, watching people goes by. Ah I’ve been writing too much. Next is just enjoy these Saigon pics guys..
|Business Library, as written above :p|
|Ho Chi Minh City Museum. it was closed already when i passed it :(|
|Ho Chi Minh City Parliament Building|
|sunset above Saigon, taken from Saigon Skydeck|
|Saigon's pedestrian. motorcycle parking or where people hangout, or sleeping!|
all photos were taken by me, using GoPro Hero 2, during my leisure trip May, and July 2012, during my business trip.