I know I usually like my luxury and comfort but I thought I'd try backpacking this time around. No fancy hotel, no laptop, no plans, just me and my little adventurous self. Oh and a camera of course. J
So just like a true backpacker, I stayed in a hostel and in a dorm room at that! I eventually transferred to a private room but that has nothing to do with my roommates who were all so nice especially the two French girls whom I wish I get to spend more time with.
I did meet quite a bunch of other travellers from all over which made the trip rather interesting, but I also didn't fail to interact with and get to know some locals. Well, there were genuinely friendly ones and there were greedy cheating bastards. I actually got scammed TWICE! But that's just a part of this whole experience.
Anyway, Saigon is quite a lovely city. I initially thought it would be very poor but it's surprisingly pretty developed. It has plenty of beautiful parks, which I really liked, where people socialize and play sports. One particular game that is popularly played everywhere is called Da Cau (foot shuttlecock). It's amazing how these guys can hit the shuttlecock with their foot from behind. It's like their feet have eyes! I got the chance to join a random group and I sucked so bad. LOL
So yeah, this trip has been quite an enriching experience. I'd do it again soon I'd get the chance to. In fact, I'm already thinking about bringing my backpack to Laos!
12-Aug-2011 to 15-Aug-2011
The dorm room of Saigon Backpackers Hostel. Quite a nice dorm room, it was! Got initially assigned to the upper bed so I requested to be transferred to another room. I didn't wanna fall flat on my face on drunken nights you know!
The popular Pham Ngu Lao street.
Ben Thanh Market. It's mainly geared towards tourists and is a den of thieves so be very careful.
The best way to do sight-seeing around Saigon is on a cyclo. I was lucky to have found Mr Tony to drive me around town. Such a funny cheerful guy.
Hordes of motorcycles. What they say about Vietnam is true. Crossing the streets is always a death-defying stunt! The trick is not to be overly aware and just walk on a steady pace. I almost got ran over twice before I got the hang of it.
Look what I found! Interesting that they have Jollibee in Saigon and it seems quite popular. Wanted to drop by and have the ChickenJoy and JollySpaghetti that I really miss but I didn't manage to find time for it.
War Remnants Museum
I know this is quite tragic but it was the most compelling picture in the entire museum.
French colonial architecture everywhere. This one is a high school campus.
Notre Dame Cathedral. It is modeled after the cathedral of the same name in Paris. Sans the gargoyles, I can see a little resemblance.
My fancy ride in the crazy streets of Saigon.
Vietnam has a huge coffee culture and they love having coffee out on the streets. Just pull a table and a small stool and you're set. So when in Saigon...
Lots of people playing Da Cau (foot shuttlecock) in the parks. It's amazing how they can hit it with their foot from behind. I attempted to join a group and I'm sure they were just too polite not to laugh. I sucked so bad!
Aerobics in the park. These people really do care about their health and fitness.
People's Committee Hall. I took a motorcycle taxi from Ben Thanh Market and as I was getting all confused with the millions of Vietnamese dongs I have, the driver suddenly grabbed my wallet and took 200,000 from it. He even wanted more and we were grabbing my money from each other back and forth. Luckily, I managed to secure my wallet back. I so wanted to punch him! What an evil bastard!
Saigon Opera House.
Bon Bu Hue (beef noodle soup). It's a favorite among Saigon people and I can see (or rather taste) why.
Time for some drinks. Pham Ngu Lao street is their version of Bangkok's Khao San Road.
Central Post Office. It's my most favorite building in Saigon. It's just so exquisite! Did you know that this was designed and constructed by Gustave Eiffel? Me neither!
Street vendors in traditional clothes.
The quintessential Vietnamese pho. Boy it was a feast!
Went on a day tour to Cu Chi Tunnels. It's very impressive how the Viet Congs managed to create a massive network of underground tunnels that served as their hiding spots during the Vietnam war. I can't imagine how they could have living quarters, kitchens, and even hospitals in there.
The tunnels are really tiny, dark, and hot inside! Twenty of us entered but only two of us managed to exit at the other end. I literally had to crawl my way out. No wonder the Americans didn't win.
Walked around town with Leon, a Dutch tourist I met at the tour, and we were ambush interviewed by university students a few times. No, seriously, they're no longer in high school!