Thursday, May 04, 2006

Tidbits of Ho Chi Minh

About my trip to Vietnam. I would't tire myself (nor bored you) by reminiscing day to day thingies. I will just write whatever.

My journey there ain't that bad. Went to KLIA for our flight. Remembered my last post when I said I hate travelling becoz it would make puke. I never puke once! Yeay.

Eeekkyy stuff aside now. The MAS flight food was surprisingly good. Even though I was kinda amazed they put "bendir" in our nasi lemak. Probably kacang cost too much?

We arrived at Ho Chi Minh near 10 a.m. However Immigration process takes forever so I was out of the airport near 11 a.m. The Immigration Officer there does look really apt in scrutunizing our face if it match the one in the passport though.

You can say my trip to Vietnam is mostly a shopping trip. Lament, lament. I know I should go atravelling with younger personas. Nonetheless, I love shopping so that ain't bad either.

Stepping into Ho Chi Minh city, the first thing you thought. They are many, many, many motorcycles. And there are very little traffic lights . Most cars there are either chauffeur driven or taxis. Honking loudly and often seems to be a normal way of telling other motorist "Hey I am going down this road now, get out of my way,". The Ho Chi Minh drivers would most certainly survived KL roads. I am terrified in crossing the roads the first day I was there.

Saigon River & Ho Chi Minh from the view of our hotel.

Okay. Basically I had divided my blog telling into Shopping, Trip to Chu Chi Tunnel and Misc. What can I say, I had been trained to write in points by my History teacher.


Since their embroidered kain, clothes and bags are very much a steal and are pretty with great quality, I went into a shopping spree.. Wheee~ Their lacquer stuffs are pretty good too. But since I am not setting up a home or anything , so I don't give it a second glance. My money ain't that much, to buy too much things you know.

One of the places which my sister loved to bring us is the Ben Thanh Market. Its kinda like Padang Besar. This is a place I identified in buying bags and some little clothes. The choices are... gasping. Embroidered bags, beads bag, small tote bags, wristlet.... None of course leather. The type of clothes, ranging from fake branded stuffs to lovely traditional Vietnamese garbs. I also managed to custom made my very own traditional Vietnam clothes. Wondered when I will wear it. The tailors/seamstresses near the market are super fast. They can usually finish up your clothes in 24 hours time.

Of course clothes is not the only thing there. It have a wet market, which I briefly visit with my sister to buy some veggies, some food stalls which robbed you blind, little trinkets stuff which ranges from pottery, lacquer, wood carving, painting to crytallized bangles.

During one of our trip there, we also managed to witness a mini catfight between 2 madam shop owners. Dunno what they were fighting about. One of them were flailing around a water jug to hit the other while being restrained by their their friends/colleague.

Ben Thanh market. The sales peoples there like to take you by the hand and ask to go and look into their stalls

We also tend to gape on the mini ships teak carvings. These are scattered around the city. Our particular haunt is just at the back of the hotel. They even include the historical story of the ship they carved. Also they have other mini vehicles carvings like helicopter,train, fighter jet. Heh. I bought myself a Jeep. I love the fire truck teak carving though. It have a ladder which you can slide it up and down. But its a bit costly and I don't fancy trudging heavy luggage. I leave it be.

The ceramic potteries is also very unique and cheap. Depending on the places you go of course. My sister favorite haunt is Song Be. However as I said, I am no housewife. So I was like whut? Pottery? Pasu? I'll pass. Even my lil niece managed to bought herself 3 cute ceramic duckies which is now swimming in my sis lil garden pot. And she is 2!! The women in the house is certainly bringing this child down. But she managed to break one of them, moments after it was take out from the plastic bag, so the 3 little duckies now left 2.

My most shamefully spending money when we were stopping at Hong Anh boutique. This boutique have a collection of really lovely baju kurung and kebaya with a cheap price. The design is simple , and I love the little beads they sew it on. I won't get that kinda clothes with that kinda price here.

The ehem, CDs are even much cheaper. With great quality too. Needs to be careful though. Brad Pitt maybe speaking Vietnamese. I bought the whole season of SATC. What? Download? Blargh. Easier. And way, way, way cheaper. Almost the same price as wasting money on Stimix a month.

The Tunnels.

Since I informed my sister, I want to go and see some Viet Cong tunnels, us family went to the Chu Chi Tunnels (I think...) . It takes 2 hour very bumpy journey to get there. My 2 year old niece was looking very green by the end of the ride.

We went into tour on how the Viet Cong village was like during the wars. Entering the village, we are greeted with sharp bamboo sticking out from the ground. I am sure if that is not a trap, more like showing we-are-scary-so-better-not mess-around-with-us. However during the tour, we got around the tour of typical Vietnamese village yesteryears.

It pretty much look like our village in the 50s might look. But with some pretty interesting details here and there. It is impressive to see what they did in those days to survive and fight. That even young slip of girls take up their gun to fight off soldiers coming their way. Makes you think eh, if you were to live at that particular place and time, will you be a coward or a hero? And what makes a person hero? Is it through the eyes of the others who suffered the same fate as you or to the objective person on the other side of the world who leisurely judged you at the comfort of their own cool home if you are wrong or not ?

Our guide explained, the adults fight by day, and farm by night. The women of course stay at home to cook for the dear men who need to fight. Chivalry ? But if it came to a truly dire time, then the womenfolk too need to take up their weapons. Children are required to go to school to learn to read and write and learn and be bomb carriers.

Come rain, shine or wars; learning must go on.

The dummy farms. This is a dummy. It showed well, peoples need to feed themselves even though during hard time. So thus needs to be self sufficient by farming.

It also show some of the traps still lurking about. Gah, I really don't fancy these sharp sticks to be the end of anyone.

The sign which says; "Die you soldier." Kidding. I have no idea what the heck the sign is saying.

We then went to the ever famous tunnels for the next tour. The Viet Cong soldiers dig these tunnels basically to hide out, operate and attack their enemies. Its very hot. They said only their people can fit into this tunnel back in those days. It won't fit a foreigner. Psstt, I think they meant pesky American soldiers. The lower level of the tunnels can only just fit a small lithe Asian, lying down. Of course back in those days everyone was slim. If they stay in the tunnel , always hot and all sweating from all the lack of oxygen and of course warring, it would slim anyone down. I think this tend to be the best slimming method of all. Except the part where you are always in mortal danger of course.

These second part of the tour showed the past tunnels, how it was dig and some of the 'rooms' that were used before such as its meeting room, the operating room and recovery tunnel.

The tunnels go as deep as 8 metres to 10 metres. They used a small hoe. One tunnel which were dug were usually be handled by only 4 person. My, you down there. How big muscly arm you have~

In the tunnels, there are also trap laid out for those who are unfamiliar with the layout or location. If an enemy chose to go in, they are pretty much a goner. I went into the tunnels and it was freaking dark, managed to bump my head (which I still have the bruise a week after) and soiled my clothes. Never had I ever felt so claustrophobic. But it was a good experience nonetheless. I was in the peak of a really bad cold at the time, so I was not up to feeling that adventurous and just went into a few tunnels showed. My mom, aunty and sis just opted to stay firmly above ground. While we were exploring underground, our second in command tour guide showed my family where my brother and I below were headed. So if we went into one tunnel and emerged at another, she will showed the rest of the family the way above.

The she which led us to the correct path. I meant tunnels. Seems to be a strong silent type. She just wag her tail and joyfully trotted down to the next tunnel showing us where we need to go next. Never heard a bark from her once.

By the end of the tour we were served by a plateful of hot steaming tapioca and their very own special Vietnam tea. My throat was so sore from the flu , it was such a relief to pour some hot liquid down one throat.

We went back tired, hungry and with some knowledge on how M-16 look and felt like.

Thats my bro. With guns. Obviously.

The Currency

I never have a head for numbers. At first the currency difference is baffling for a person who look at Maths like some kind of disease. Their currency deal in 000 000 . They have like 300 000 dong which drives me nuts at first in trying to figure it out. Then I got the hang of it. To know if its worth it, E.g. if the thing cost like 500 000 dong, take out the three 000 at the back, divide 500 by 4, and you get your estimate in RM. Tada, thats dila teaching Maths , noobs! My dividing and multiplying mathematical skills sucks, so it does take me sometimes when buying things. I think they pretty much saw that, and screwed me dry.

The Food? Well. We only went to eat outside once. A Malaysian restaurant. Its pretty hard to find halal food. So I only ate home cooked food.

Well. I think thats it. I pretty much run out of things to tell. Its not much tho. But I did enjoyed it. Ho Chi Minh is a nice thriving peaceful city to me. The peoples are very very nice, friendly and polite. The goods are lovely and relatively cheap. Wouldn't mind going again, I should say.


iceroll said...

what the hell is "bendir" anyway?

Santeria said...

bendir? lendir stewardess kot.. sebab "kacang cost too much" ? kalau lendir free... sekarang MAS semua nak cut cost.... hahhhahhahah

kunci hilang said...

wah.., i should have asked something for ole-ole. :)

iceroll & Santeria,
I think it was 'kacang bendi'.

Dila said...

Yups. Kacang bendi. I called it bendir. Well my family does. So does other extended families I know. Dunno if it is a Johor thingies, or family saying. Or just me.

Yuck. And.. double yuck again. Eeiii. Tgk byk sangat Pramugara Terlampau ni. ish ish. Yuck again. Yeuch.

kunci hilang:
ah well. I can have some spare ole2. U never know. Limited stocks only! Redeem your offers now!

iceroll said...

owhh kacang bendi. me and my family called it "brendi" then :P

ska_ocean said...

Wah, tade souvenier utk aku ke Dila?! Baik aku mintakkan utk Shu skali... Hahahah~

obefiend said...

me rove urong time..

that my thing i associate with vietnam

might go there and try tembak the AK47.. i think 50 cent a bullet

asik main CS... not as good as the real thang

Dila said...

Hahaha.. kalo nk pkkan souvenir utk ko n shu ni.. bile tah nk jumpa. By the time jumpa. sume dh kena rebut ngan org lain :p

Haha.. meh meh jumpa2 dulu. Ni bebdk laki skolah kite ni duk ajak reunion. Baik kite wat pre-reunion duluk sbelom tuh.

me rove urong time?

Call me blur, coz I am. Ah.. then probly paintball? (Is it what they call em then)

Shooting range is a tad bit costly right? Here

Disqus for Dils Stop