Search This Blog

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

HCMC, Cambodia and Hoi An in 10 Days (Part 1)

Day 1
It was around six o'clock when we got on a taxi and headed for Noi Bai Airport. And, from there, we had a smooth trip to Ho Chi Minh City, where we got an airport taxi to take us to the Saigon Mini Hotel which is located in an alley not far from the bus companies.

We met a new friend as we were getting out of the alley.

Lucky Dog. A dog in a restaurant that's loved and won't be served as food.

We didn't waste any time! We immediately headed to Pham Ngu Lao Street to find an agency that can book our tickets so that we can leave for Cambodia the next day. Armed with our haggling and negotiating skills, we managed to get return tickets for both Ho Chi Minh to Pnom Penh and Pnom Penh to Siem Reap from Sapaco for around 800,000 Dong (USD$40) each. We also managed to get a private tour around the Cuchi Tunnels for under $20 after lunch. 

So, we headed for a quick lunch at a nearby Indian Restaurant before getting on a taxi to see the Cuchi Tunnels. When we got there, we realized that the fee we paid at the travel agency was just for the transportation and the guide who was very pleasant, friendly and fluent. It was also very refreshing to have a conversation with a Vietnamese lady who doesn't believe that marriage should be her only aspiration in life. In fact, she was happy to meet an unmarried 30-year-old.

At the entrance of the Cuchi Tunnels, my friend was asked to pay 80,000 dong for the entrance. Apparently, my Asian features and the few Vietnamese words I knew made the girl at the counter think I was Vietnamese. And, she only charged me half the price. 

The tour was pretty interesting. We got to crawl into one of the underground tunnels and see the different array of traps used during the war. Being claustrophobic, I couldn't go into the longer tunnels. I tried but as soon as I had a feel of how narrow the tunnels were, I backed out. 

Watch where you step!

This is what's waiting for you if you fall in there!

Here's our tour guide demonstrating how they hid in these holes to surprise the enemy.

Soldiers chilling now that the war's over -- Of course, they're not real!

At the end of the tour, we decided to shoot some guns. We decided on firing the AK47 and sharing the ten rounds which cost us 260,000 Dong. It was a nice experience which was ruined by the fact that they screwed the rifle on a wall -- A very high wall. Being 5 feet tall, tiptoeing and barely getting a proper aim was a nuisance. I loved feeling the power of the weapon though. 

An M16

 Would've been nice to fire this one but I've  got to stick to my travel budget.
Famished after our tour, we decided to have dinner at an Indian restaurant along Bui Vien Street. It was a few buildings away from the first one we ate in at lunch time and we were sorely disappointed and regretted trying out the new place. The service was slow and we were served the Vietnamese version of Indian cuisine. Samosas just aren't meant to be dipped in Chin Su chilli sauce. An Indian man owns the place but it seems that his grumpy Vietnamese staff does the cooking and serving. So, if you're in the area, pick Mumtaz Indian Restaurant (where we had lunch earlier that day) and not this dump!

Quick Travel Tips

Mumtaz Indian Restaurant. 226 Bui Vien Street, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Lac Hong Tours. 305 Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1, HCMC.

No comments:

Post a Comment