Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Trip to Ho Chi Minh City

I took a trip to Ho Chi Minh City with my sister, my cousin and his girlfriend 2 weeks ago. After two months in Viet Nam, it was the first time I went there for fun. We left Vung Tau at 4:30 in the morning, that was the first trip of Hoa Mai Transport & Travel Services for that day. The driver picked us up at our street at around 4:15. We arrived in HCMC about 2 hours later and lugging my sister's bags (she's going back to the Philippines the next day) along, we took a taxi to Yellow House Hotel at De Tham street. For $26 a night for the 4 of us it wasn't so bad. On the upside it's location is right near the center of the city, near the markets, etc.

After we checked in we walked to to Ben Thanh Market to kill some time before we could hit the PC stores. On the way there, we ate bahn mi (french bread with butter, pate and veggies) and drank some soya milk. Even early in the morning, the place was all hustle and bustle. Maybe it's all the coffee. It was before 8 in the morning but everybody was already fixing their stalls and selling their wares. My sister is the one wearing a green dress on the foreground. We tried to get a little shopping done before 8am.

After checking a couple of PC stores with enough choices and at the same time accepts credit cards, we found one at Bui Thi Xuan St. After an entertaining hour with the salesperson we finally left my cousin at the store. While they were assembling his PC, my sister, my cousin's GF, and I, went to Notre Dame Cathedral. We had a nice lunch at Pho24 near Ben Thanh Market, then went back to the hotel to take a nap till we could go to the War Remnants Museum.

We saw a lot of pictures taken during the controversial Vietnam War. It was all very heartbreaking and just when my sister was feeling so sad, she heard someone crying. A Western woman was sobbing while reading some passages explaining a photograph.
In my case, I still can't get over the Tiger Cages and the other tortures that they described quite graphically. It reminds me of the atrocities committed by the Japanese in the Philippines and the Nazis during World War II.
After visiting that museum, we went around the Night Market. My sister bought me "respectable" shoes and a cute beaded shoe wallet. It was a fun to window shop and relax while walking around the city. We ended the night nicely by eating some street food.
Not an eventful day by some standards but honestly, it was one of the best days I've had in a while.

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