28/09/2011

Ho Chi Minh City - Day 1

Saigon or Ho Chi Minh was awesome despite the crazy traffic. When I say crazy, it's really crazy. No exaggeration there. HCMC is the largest city in Vietnam with population of 9 million and the city's main transportation is motorcycle in which everyone owns one. So you do the math and tell me how to cross the street when it looks like this?


Trust me when I say that it was quarter of the total madness

I cringed and hold my husband's hand tightly. And prayed that we made to the other end safely.

The journey from LCCT to Tan Son Nhat International Aiport took roughly 2 1/2 hours and our flight arrived at 9pm (local time) as Vietnam is 1 hour behind Malaysia. After settling our legal documents, we proceeded to our hotel via taxi. We bought a taxi coupon at a stand next to the exit. The company is called Saigon Taxi & the total fare is 10USD per car. When we arrived at the hotel, the driver wanted to con us by asking for another 2USD . It was apparently for the alleged airport tax. My husband refused to pay and insisted for a receipt which he (the driver) couldn't produce. I was on the verge of paying actually but lucky my husband refused. The next day we then met another Malaysian couple (whom we met on the arrival day) and their driver didn't ask for any additional charges. So, be careful of (some) taxi. The most reliable taxi companies (taken from Wikitravel & upon advice from the hotel) are Vinasun and Mai Linh. No haggling necessary as they're using meter, all the time. Beware of taxis looking like the mentioned companies. We saw varies of VinaSUM, VinaMET and Mei Linh on the road. These could be scammers.

We stayed at the brand new (budget) Green Suites hotel which I booked via Booking.com. The published rate is 26USD/night (with breakfast) and we stayed there for 4D3N. For a budget hotel with less than 3 stars, the hotel seemed impressive. Clean room and bathroom (you have no idea about how anal I am with hotel bathroom), with air-cond, cabel tv (yay!), hot shower and basic amenities. The only thing that I hate about the hotel was the water pressure was so low and it took ages for the hot water to come out. Breakfast was a no-fuss menu with about 5 selections. Limited choices for Muslim though. For breakfast, we ate eggs and breads for 3 consecutive days. I think never in my life have I eaten that much of eggs. Well, beggars can't be choosers, can they?

On our arrival day, since it was already late and most of the shops were already closed, we decided to take a walk to the Night Market near the (in)famous Ben Thanh Market. The market is 1 km from our hotel and it took us about 15 min to get there. Here, you can find lots of relatively cheap stuffs such as ready made baju kurung(!), sportswear, lacquer ware, souvenir. I used the term cheap loosely as it really depends on your bargaining skill. My bargaining skill sucks to the max so I left it to my husband. But despite of a lot of people telling us the way to get a cheaper price is through bargaining, I saw that most of the sellers refused to lower down their prices.

We also saw a lot of Malaysian flocking the night market and other shopping area (esp. the makcik-makcik) Due to that, Malaysian are an easy target among the sellers and hence, they refuse to lower down the prices. Undoubtedly the prices are cheap compared to what we have in Malaysia but hey, buying it at much lower price doesn't hurt either, right?

After spending 1 hour there, we then headed back to our hotel to get some rest.

8 comments:

sumpit said...

vietnam was one of those countries that surprised me. I was there alone 6 yrs ago, backpacking jugakla, back when it wasnt a popular destination for malaysians. Airasia pon blum sampai lg.

Hotel dia murah dan mostly no too bad, kecuali dia ada hidden charges yg time nak bayar baru tau (grrrrr!). Tp org dia friendly2, kan? Even the bike/taxi driver (?) yg tak kenal pun bole belanja minum vietnamese coffee. Dia proud dgn kopi diorg kot.

There's this market buruk, dunno if it's the same one u went to, tp ada makan cam ala2 escargot yg murah dan agak sedap, tp duduk atas kerusi kecik pendek tu la dikelilingi sampah2 atas lantai. You should really try it (if you're still there la..)

ken said...

never been there before.. but seems interesting.. so many bikers.. :)

Moose said...

i think vietnam has slowly becoming more touristy than it was before when you're there. 1st day dah we were almost get conned by taxi driver & sellers pun 2x5 jugak so it was hard to trust anyone. beza kedai tak sampai 100m je pun you can already see the mass difference in price. 1 shop is selling 9000 VND for a magnet & another shop, further up front jual 12000 VND for the same thing. they're really trying to rip off tourist.

so far tak pernah la plak ade orang tibe2 nak offer ajak minum kopi or friendly. yang friendly pun pakcik2 beca yang nak offer naik beca (of course, bayar) dia.

Moose said...

ken:

if you haven't been there, then you should. it a whole different level of experience, i must say.

cicayanki said...

moose, i wonder how you guys made it through all that madness?!!macam mana nak cross tu?! takutnya!

i've never been to vietnam before (would love to someday), but it sure is becoming one of the travelling destinations among the japanese as well. glamour, masuk japanese TV lagi!

Moose said...

dena:

pejam mata & cross je. ok part pejam mata tu tipu la. hehe. but really, you have to selamba cross je sebab klo nak tunggu sampai traffic clear, memang takkan la. don't worry about being hit ke ape cos they will try to avoid you. and don't run masa melintas tu. selamba badak jalan je.

in HCMC i takde nampak japanese sangat. tapi malaysian memang ramai!

BAIZURA NATASHA said...

moose~ i pergi HCM last year. backpacking juga, with my girlfriend. pergi berdua backpacking bukan idea yg bijak sbb since d 1st day ktorg asyik kena tipu, org ikot sampai hotel.time pegi museum x brani kluar sbb de few guys tgu dpn pntu.atlast tpaksa nanges mntak bantuan local..thank god that local girl tu sgt baek call taxi amek ktorg.tp pas naek taxi,ktorg nmpk that girl gado pukul2 ngn that guy tu.so scary, ntah pe nsb dat girl.day 3 onwards ktorg terus amek package htl.mhl pn redha je asalkan slmt.i hr2 nanges nk blk, sbaek kwn i relaks sket. hehe.tp shopping experience best la. u pergi x butik jual baju ready made yg murah2?
**sorry terkomen panjang,tbe2 rs mcm baru smalam je blk HCM pas baca travel experience u ne**

Moose said...

baizura:

sorry, baru perasan comment you. omg! so scary la your experience. i've been travelling in europe with only my girlfriends but so far alhamdulillah never encounter such scary experience.

during my trip to hcmc i thought that the city was pretty safe, people were friendly and helpful everywhere but, you still have to be cautious and careful right? tapi bila masuk ben thanh terus i rasa tak selamat cos i hate people harassing me into buying their goods. siap pegang2 lagi. i hate strangers touching me for no reason!