07 February 2010

My Evening WALK in Saigon

All I had for lunch at the Chu Chi was MC Tapioca Donald. I was going to have to do a long walk to some places that evening so I needed to get fully-recharged. For that, I took this for my late lunch.
Then I started my evening walk. Peddlers like this are so commonly seen all over Saigon.
And I’ve always been a big fan of the duo group Too Phatt in Malaysia. Now I know what they got their name from.
Motorbikes for rent are everywhere in Saigon but with those crazy traffics they’ve got here, no thanks. I was not ready to die in a communist territory.
Seriously. Just look here. Ohh, and KFCs are considered extremely luxurious by Vietnamese people they don’t actually sell good which is just why there aren’t many of them in HCMC. In fact, this is the only KFC outlet that I saw there.
There are women selling babies everywhere.
Kidding. They’d actually come up to you and ask for money. The babies are used to melt your heart. They might be seen in many countries including Malaysia, but they are just so many of them in HCMC – They have their own formula of gaining money: woman+baby=money. And HCMC people really know how to make space for everything.
Vietnamese love bread and baguette. I’m sure they got it from years of colonization by the French.
And I’ve never seen as many ATMs as it is in HCMC. They are like everywhere, almost like every shop has one. You can’t miss noticing it when you are there.
Oh well, HCMC people have their own way of spending their evening. I got amused to see how they played this game. It’s a little bit like badminton with the legs as rackets but kicking backwards. LOL!
My walk had brought me to this one of the main roundabouts in the middle of HCMC. It’s like the meeting point of all the traffics in HCMC, making it quite difficult to cross over to the roundabout itself.
Less than a hundred yards from there is the famous Ben Thanh market. I don’t know why it is called Ben Thanh when what is written at the main entrance is totally different.
It really is nothing compared to what they’ve got to offer at the Chatuchak Market in Bangkok.
And I only hoped that the wet market in Sandakan can improve their ‘grading system’ like they do here.
I actually had not planned to buy anything until I get to Hanoi. But I was tired of holding so many things in my pockets so I ended up buying this.
A sling bag. At least I can always say I bought something from the Ben Thanh. :-P
Out from Ben Thanh, I was actually trying to look for the Reunification Palace when I ran into this prominent-looking building.
It was already closed so I didn’t get to go inside it. But I don’t think it was allowed to go in there because they are so many tour-packaged tourists outside of the building taking pictures and making fun of themselves. I am sure they would have come earlier if they knew it was gonna be close. Kannn?
This is a picture taken by an extremely beautiful Vietnamese girl whose smile had almost melted my heart away. Believe me; it was taking quite of an effort to pose as it is here.
Errrrr, we did take a picture together but I don’t think I should post it here. :-D

I continued walking until I happened to see this heavily French Building. I later learnt that it was the Opera House. There was nothing much to do but getting amused by the beauty of its architecture.
I wanted to get a little bit adventurous so I didn’t bring a map. With no map with me, it was quite difficult to find the right directions without straying off a little. All I had to do was ask any of the tourists that I ran into. Language barrier forbids me from asking any of the locals and asking any of the motorists is not a good idea either. They are so eager to have you on their bikes and would later ask to be paid ten times fold. Places of interest in HCMC are actually quite adjacent to each other. I found this almost by accident.
The Notre Dame Cathedral. And it was in my must-go list! It was built to take after the design of the Notre Dame in Paris. I was so happy to find it that I actually found myself running towards it. But then.
Notre Dame Cathedral is located in the middle of an ‘island’ surrounded by roads with heavy traffics. You can’t avoid going to it without having to get across the heavy traffic.
Somehow, I managed to get there still in one piece.
Bear in mind that they have a strict (and quite short) visiting hours. It was almost 6pm when I was there so there was no way I could go in. But I was sure it was pretty much similar to many other churches that I had gone to.
And this young girl here would never stop asking me to buy flowers from her.
When I refused, she kept muttering “Malaysia no good. Malaysia no good. Gila. Gila.” Errrrkk. I should never have told her I was from Malaysia.

By then, it was already late in the evening. I was actually trying to figure out what to do next when I happened to see Michael and Julia, the Russian couple I had shared a taxi with from the airport the day before. We greeted each other and decided to go for dinner together. But not before Michael took this picture for me.
While we all got to HCMC just the day before, I was so amazed to see how Michael seemed to know HCMC as if he had been there for months. I gotta give him the highest credit for his sense of direction. He really seemed to know where he was going.
After getting through some back alleys and narrow streets that are so unfamiliar to me, we found a restaurant that seemed perfect for dinner and… beer. :-D
It’s Pho Bho, the most popular Vietnamese local food. Michael quipped how it is like the National Food of Vietnam. I found it quite nice actually.
And it came with this.
Oh well, raw soybean sprouts. No thanks. Having done with the dinner (and beer), we decided to go back to the hotel area. And I was so glad Michael and Julia were there with me. Crossing the busy traffics at night was even scarier. While I was so scared to death, this Russian couple seemed to enjoy every moment of it. Wohoooooo.
Walking back to the park, I was amused to see how the people in HCMC have their own unique way of chilling out after a hard work day. They DANCE!
This is how the youngsters do it.
And this is how the veterans do it.
They really were so good to watch that we actually spent almost an hour watching them. But then, we couldn’t stay there forever. Another series of road-crossings and back-alleys.
I had no way of figuring out how we came out and found ourselves right in front of the hotel. You see, they KNEW where they were going.
Well, there’s a saying that Do as the Romans Do. But we were in Vietnam. We did it the Viet way. 
We had this as a view on the other side of the street. Out loud I said 'No thanks!' to the girls who kept waving their hands to me. :-P
Right through to the agenda, we ordered SOME beer, errrr, to start with.  
And later this to come with it.
Yummy.
It looked so tasty we began to get hungry again by just looking at it.
And this is me so excitedly ready to get a bite.
And this is Julia who is just as eager to get a mouthful.
And this is Michael who looks so ready to swallow the whole plate.
It was actually so good we finished the whole dish in less than 10 minutes.
Ohh, and did I mention it was frogs?
By then, it was too late to stay around. It was so nice to chat with them. They joked how the Americans always smile while the Russians are always deep in their thoughts that they hardly smile. If that is true, then I am sure Michael and Julia are not typical Russians. They gotta be some of the friendliest persons I’ve ever met in my life.

After saying goodbye to each other, we separated ways back to our respective hotels. I would be my last day in HCMC the next day.

3 comments:

YeinJee said...

I missed Vietnam's food.

aud said...

The traffic looks crazy!! and I thought Phnom Penh was bad. I learnt to put up my arm (like a traffic police) to 'minta kesian' when I cross the road :).

The frogs look like good pusas :)

Lizeewong said...

Looks like a lot of fun! I like the food and the flee market :) How bout' shopping? Is it good?

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