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7/3/10 Terri

VIETNAM | Sunday, 7 March 2010 | Views [596] | Comments [5]

HCM City- communication scramble

HCM City- communication scramble

Flight to HCM, following a terential/scary downpour and thunder in KL, was great. Visa process wasn't though. We were last to get through as unwelcoming officials to country decided to take their time and not clearly explain what we needed to do.All worth it to save a few dollars !!! Luckily, an hour later than booked, our lift was still there taking us through the swarming traffic of teenagers on their bikes out for a fun friday night. Our hearts were pounding watching the constant near misses with people going wherever their heart desired and not following even basic traffic rules, however, there was no accidents.We thought KL was mad, Vietnam is a lunatic. On arrival at Madam Cuc 127, despite being late, we were given some lotus tea (which we all love) and then dinner was served to- 2 plates of spring rolls (a little different to ours) and a paprika-style (?) noodle soup (Nim wasn't fussed on it and servings to kids was huge). Shown to our room (wrong one but we're being moved tomorrow) - lovely to have own clean bathroom for at least 2-3 cold showers a day - not as humid/hot as KL though. Also blessed with both fan and air-con. had a good sleep but I'm still waking too early - gradually getting better.

First day exploring HCM: Went down to lobby for breakfast of french stick, jam and butter, bananas and tea/coffee. Then we decided to go straight to the renowned Ben Thanh market. After hours of breaking free from the grabs of vendors, we walked out having purchased nada - it was just too overwhelming and everything was just too cheap to trust! North Face backpacks (sometimes Nobth Fcae!) are $10 - no joke - they look like they're made OK but can't be originals. Lowe Alpine look better quality and are around $30. Decided we'll wait for Hanoi to look at Crumpler as they are made there and the quality looks fab. Clothing (very good fakes are around $1-10), shoes made here around $10 (lovely) etc. Wandered around food section and poor Nim just can't stand the fish aromas but enjoyed all the differences. After checking out some back streets, relaxing in the only park around (kids played with locals) and practiced crossing busy roads, we stopped for lunch at street cafe for a local meal of God knows what. We pointed to two sups and ended up with about 8 plates including wilted greens, cucumber and carrot salad, cold pork and vegies and our soups - we devoured some and left some. came back to room for rest in afternoon, adi falling asleep while I endeavoured to get my budget book up-to-date. After a little walk around the block to explore a different direction we got ready for dinner and were picked up by Australians:Simone, Andre and Elijah (friends of Fran and Pauls)in a taxi. We went to the main street of town around the HCM roundabout which we probably wouldn't have discovered without their help. We were taken to a lovely looking restaurant serving a  variety of traditional Vietnamese dishes and were surrounded by glistening fairy lights, cooling ponds and food vendors along the walls.  Ordering was left to our acquaintances who chose crispy rice paper rolls (not soaked ) - a little unusual with lovely standard fillings, a gorgeous lotus flower salad with pork and prawns, fungi (wet) rice paper rolls and a mixed platter with bean cakes, processed chilli meats and salad. For a flash restaurant the food was very reasonably priced from $2 a plate. We then had a walk around the two main streets which were absolutely bustling and beautiful at night - the Vietnamese love lights and it certainly created a great atmosphere. We then went to 'Fanny's" (Nim found the name amusing) - an ice-cream chain store here- and ordered dessert. I had mango sorbet and rasberry ice with rum soaked raspberries while others had a plate of sushi ice-cream and various flavours of ice-cream with wafers or crepes. For the 7 of us it cost under $15 - well worth the decadence. Farewelled this lovely family and then went home to bed (walked 2 km) at 11pm! It is so busy here that it feels very safe (more-so than Brissy) along the main streets. Good sleep in new room with 2 double beds.


After breakfast at our guesthouse, took off on an early start and head for the main area. Walked past the Opera house where we saw/heard some traditional European/Alpinese musicians! Continued, looking at some shops along the way, to the History Museum of Vietnam. We decided to skip all the war stuff as not recommended by other backpackers for children and we weren't keen to see preserved a-orange babies in bottles.  Upon entering and listening to whines from the kids that museums are boring (mainly because there was a loud and busy zoo next door with giraffes), we all enjoyed what there was see. It was divided into rooms - each covering an era in history backing date half a million years! And of course everyone found something of interest and the experience only put us back $3 for the family. They had beautiful carvings from various styles of temples and eras as well as a mummy - 1st we've all seen, pots, weapons, jewelry and ethnic clothing and utensils. We splashed out on a taxi back to the centre of town to avoid another midday walk in the sun($1.50) and after buying a map and looking at more backpacks and gorgeous shoes (all handmade and from $10-15 in the posh part of town) we went to another market which was mainly filld with Chinese (cheap) stuff. Followed Bill Clintons move on Pho (pronounced fir-the local soup) and got a table at Pho 2000. The refuse from the street was worth paying and extra $2 for our 4 meals. For $8 we had three chicken pho soups with fresh herbs and lime while Nimah chose spring rolls on vermicelli with a local dressing. Nim's been a little funny with the food - I think it's the fish smell- but she loved this and we didn't point out til the end that her rolls contained black fungi and deep fried prawns with shells and tails on! She loved it and we all had a taste too and agreed. After a boost we ventured back into the mauling Ben T markets and purchased 4 silk sleeping bags for $6 each (got them down 50%) , a mossie net - couldn't get under $9 and a bit tacky with lace and Nim got a couple of sparkly hair clips. ack at the hostel while Adrian's gone a couple of doors away for a massage at the blind institute - $3 for an hour - hope it's not dodgy - yet to find out! We've been spoilt by by THE Madam Cuc herself as she's made us two fresh lemon drinks each. Going to book a bus to Dalat for tomorrow which takes 6 hours so having dinner in tonight followed by an early sleep. So far, we've had late nights every night and because we've been so busy on the o in the cities, little homework has been achieved. Maybe the slower pace in the mountains in the next few days will allow for a catch up of school work and the journal. Love to all. The trip is fantastic now and we are all getting used to a lot of the differences including crossing the roads and being sandwiched in between hundreds of bikes as you cross with your toes constantly feeling the breeze from the wheels. However, we are not getting used to the stench of moth balls amongst all the clothing at markets and shops - wooah. our legs are aching as it's just been day after day of walking the city streets of KL and here. Looking forward to a cooler, peaceful break in Dalat. Thanks for your comments - too many already to respnd too but please keep them coming, especially for the kids. Love to all

Tags: ho chi minh




great to hear you have arrived at your main destination,is everybody else ok. hows adrian &the kids handling the hustle&bustle. i can just picture the
excited faces you are all wearing at the moment. we are extremely envious. no big dramas so far i hope.
look forward to your next installment. luv to marilyn&asher&aids.

  bobby&granma Mar 7, 2010 8:05 PM


gez, you're obviously loving the food, can't stop talking about it. and the shopping, i'm sooo jealous. glad to hear you're having a great time. love toni.

  toni Mar 8, 2010 2:53 PM


sounds like you're absolutely loving the food. and the shopping, so jealous, bring me back something. lol. anyway, great to hear you're having a wonderful time. love toni.

  TONI Mar 8, 2010 2:59 PM


What an adventure! Terri, I feel I am sharing in your gastronomical tour of Vietnam (with none of the calories)!
We are really enjoying reading along with your experiences (and am waiting for the first market purchase). Have fun in the mountains,

hugs Leanne, Steve and Ethan

  Leanne Williams Mar 9, 2010 6:00 PM


Hey, glad you have all arrived safely. Can relate to similiar experience had with Vietnamese custom officials - THEY ARE SO NOT IN A HURRY!!!!!

Glad you got to catch up with Simone and Andre and that you perhaps experienced something with them that you may have otherwise not known about.

Loving the culinary delights you are sampling - mmm I can almost taste it too - keep tantalising us!!

Sounds like you are truly in nomad-travel mode - hope Dalat is great. Say hi to the crazy lady with the theme-park accommodation - Nimah would love her crazy fairy-inspired houses and giant animal sculptures. Oh and you know Dalat is the honeymoon/lovers capital so Terri and Adrian, you might have to find some lovely sitters for Nim and Ash and spend some lovey dovey time together!!!!
Love to you all
Fran et al

  Francesca and Co Mar 11, 2010 8:15 PM

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