Category Archives: Vietnam – 2007

Motorcycle Anyone?

Whenever I think of Vietnam, the first thing that comes to mind is motorcycle. It was in Vietnam where I first saw hundreds and hundreds of motorcycles on the road, and they are literally everywhere. I guess ladies in evening dresses and matching high heels riding/driving  motorbikes is not something I normally see around here, I wish I took a few photos.

On our second day at the beach, we decided to rent a motorbike/scooter so we can explore Nha Trang.  The rules were not too strict as they let us go without helmets and they didn’t even ask for a collateral, we just paid the whole day rent and we’re off.

 

The main road was about a few kilometers long and we drove from the center towards end of the road then drove back until we reached the other end. After we finished riding on the main road, we tried driving  on the market areas. It was kind of tricky,  people seemed to cross the street freely, anywhere and anytime as if there were no vehicles on the road. I must admit, we got lost several times and it was sort of my fault as I was the one in charge of the map. I was busy taking photos and sight-seeing and I forgot that I was supposed to take charge of the direction.  After driving back and forth  three or four times, we finally found our way and it was a big relief to get out of the market area.

This photo was taken along the way – near the fishing village.

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A Valentine’s Day at the Beach

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and it made me “travel” back to that one special Valentine’s Day that X and I had a few years ago. I didn’t mean to reminisce about the past, I just thought that it’s still a proper travel post 🙂

Nha Trang Beach

We celebrated Valentine’s Day at the beach in Nha Trang, Vietnam. Well, it was not included in the original itinerary. We were supposed to travel to Hanoi after exploring Ho Chi Minh for a few days but we were not able to book a flight to Hanoi. We tried to book this flight prior to arrival in Ho Chi Minh but there was no luck at all.  All flights were fully booked due to New Year’s Day celebration. The best alternative presented to us by the travel agent was to travel Nha Trang first since there was an available flight from Nha Trang to Hanoi. So we took that option and booked the Nha Trang-Hanoi-Cho Chi Minh flight.

The overnight bus trip from Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang was a real nightmare. I was really surprised to find out that the bus tickets didn’t have seat numbers on them, so it means free-seating. We waited for over an hour outside the travel agency’s office that also serves as the bus terminal. Getting on the bus was a real struggle, people were pushing each other from the back, left and right. I felt like my whole body was crashed into pieces before I was able to get to my seat. If I still remember it right, it was a 10-hour trip. Ten agonising hours on that bus. We had a few stops along the way and I still remember that one toilet where shoes are not allowed inside. At first I was really hesitant to take my shoes off, my first reaction when I saw those rubber slippers at the door was ….. yuuccckkkk. I wasn’t sure if those slippers ever get washed and sanitized regularly. I mean how many people have actually worn those slippers? But I had no other logical option, I had to wear those yucky slippers as my bladder couldn’t hold it any longer.

It was nearly seven in the morning when we arrived at the city. I was feeling really exhausted that morning as I was awake almost all night. To my surprise, there were no taxi cabs around so we had to take a motorbike. I’ve never been on a motorbike before that day,  I was really scared but I really had to if I wanted to get to our hotel.  I was supposed to sit at the back like I was sitting on a bench but the driver insisted that I should do it properly. That short motorbike ride was still a nightmare.. my driver was really smelly!

We stayed in a beach front hotel and there was a stunning view of the beach from our balcony.

Nha Trang Beach

After getting some needed rest, we headed to a popular place called The Sailing Club. The place was very relaxing and ideal for just sitting  around watching the calmness of the sea while having a nice cup of cappuccino.

Sailing Club
This place was quiet during day time but really busy and crowded during and after dinner time. The bar area was full of male tourists and travellers partying with local girls. The restaurant at the back had a garden setting. It was kind of romantic, just get ready to be bitten by mosquitoes. There were mosquito coils placed under each table but I guess those mosquitoes in Vietnam were already immune to mosquito coils and mosquito repellant.
Sailing Club

We sat on one of those beach chairs after having dinner as we couldn’t take the noise and the crowd at the bar.  After just a few minutes; my feet got really itchy so we decided to leave and head back to our hotel. I got kind of shocked when I saw my feet and arms, there were red spots all over. Our mosquito repellant simply didn’t work. ~N~

The islets of Halong Bay

I’m pretty sure that most people will agree with me that whenever we hear Halong Bay, the first thing that comes to our minds is the image of  those two big rocks that look like they grew up from the bottom of the sea. During that sunset cruise in Halong Bay, I learned that almost all of the islands and islets in Halong bay actually have their respective names.   

The most popular one is called Ga Choi islet or Fighting Cocks. This is the logo of the Halong Bay. Almost everyone gathered on one side of the boat after our captain told us that we were approaching the famous fighting cocks.   

 
The Fighting Cocks

 

 Everybody wanted to have their photos taken with the fighting cocks on the background. Well, I also got mine but it didn’t look great so I’d rather not post it.   

Fighting Cocks

 

I wasnt able to remember the names of the other islets; well, they were all in Vietnamese language so that explains it.  The islet in the photo below is called the Dinh Huong or Incense Burner.   

Dinh Huong

 

What’s the point of driving to Halong City from Hanoi for more than 2 hours and paying quite a steep amount without seeing this spectacular view?  Well, we almost didn’t get to see the Halong Bay… that swindler sinjao 🙂 Yeah that’s the name we gave  our tour guide after that incident. More  of the  Halong Bay story next time….

Historical dinner in Vietnam

Traveling really opens our senses up into so many things that were previously unknown to us. One thing that I always want but normally fail to do when I’m traveling is savoring the local cuisines.   I have a very sensitive stomach that sometimes even bottled water makes me sick. I guess having a diarrhea and the need to look for proper and clean toilets is something that everyone doesn’t look forward to while wandering around unfamiliar places.  So, to save myself from such predicament, I stay away from street food and dining places that don’t look too appealing to me.  As long as there’s a  decent coffee shop, I’d be glad if there’s Starbucks, I can survive an entire afternoon wandering around without having to deal with an upset stomach.

One night,  while traveling around Vietnam, I was thinking of having something Vietnamese for dinner. We went to a famous place in Ho Chi Minh city, it was the restaurant at the roof top of Rex hotel. The place is popular among tourists and locals. Well, this place  had a bit of historical  factor, maybe that’s why it attracts more tourists attentions.  The following texts were taken from the hotel’s site.

A symbol of the past

 The Rex is just one of a number of hotels whose past is linked with well-chronicled historical events. However, for over 80 years the RexHotel has stood as Saigon’s best-known landmark.

Originally built as a French garage in the early 20th century, the Rex Hotel was expanded into a 6-floor trading centre in 1959,  owned by Mr and Madame Ung Thi, King Bao Dai’s relatives.

It was leased to the AmericanCulturalCenter in 1960, at which time the Abraham Lincoln Library was established on the ground floor. During the Vietnam war the American Information Service made its base at the hotel, which soon became the favorite haunt of U.S. officers and the scene of daily press briefings to foreign correspondents, or “five o’clock follies”, as they were called.

Upon scanning the menu, I didn’t find anything that sounds mouth-watering to me; and one more thing, I’m afraid of hot and spicy food. So I gave up on local cuisine and decided to order something familiar, beefy green salad. It was practically an assortment of lettuce with thin slices of beef. I thought I couldnt go wrong with the salad.  I was already halfway through with my salad when I tasted something different, something hot and spicy. I scanned my plate and was surprised to see that my salad was sprinkled with tiny bits of red chili. I was like, green salad with red chili??? sounds weird to me.  It was unintentionally a Vietnamese dinner indeed.  I was still feeling a bit hungry when we left the restaurant so I suggested walking around the block to look for a place to finish my dinner. We found a nice cafe and I had a cup of cappuccino and a slice of cheesecake. Normal coffee and cake.. without chili 🙂