Thursday, May 17, 2012

Vietnam - an unforgettable trip

Dear readers (if there's any left),

Okay, today i would like to share with you my trip to Vietnam last week. As i have mentioned before, my Vietnamese friend from UIA promised me a tour and a sleepover at her house. Here are a few important things that happened last week:

2nd May (Wed)
My flight to KL from Bayan Lepas airport was scheduled at 11.05pm. So, my friend Nora drove me there. Instead of going together with my Sis Ika.. we planned to meet at LCCT separately since she attended an interview at USM at Kubang kerian, kelantan. Her interview went well (according to her) and at LCCT, we stayed at the food court and slept at the cafe (with sitting position). Damn, my neck kinda hurt but our flight to ho chi minh is at 9.15am in the next morning, so we had no choice to just lepak there.

3rd May (Thursday)

Arrived at Ho Chi Minh, airport. Marim  was waiting for us eagerly (Thanks, buddy!). We made sure to take the Ho chi minh map at the information counter to make our travelling easier. I remembre ppl informed me that going to the city by taxi takes about USD10 or more or less RM30. We made a better choice - taking a bus which only costs RM1! haha. The bus is just like our public bus in Malaysia with convenient seating. Funny that we hav to pay tambang for luggage as well (around RM1) but well.. it is quite saving!

We arrived at the bus station near the Bent Than Market. Bent Than Market is very popular with tourists who'd like to buy all kinds of fabrics, women accessories, pearls, bags, prayer gown etc. Our first plan is to visit the market but we were greeted by a Muslim old man who offered to walk us to the mosque nearby. Crossing the roads at the city is quite challenging - you will never succeed if you wait till there is no cars/motors behind you coz they will never stop running on the road! LOL. Motorbikes are very popular in Vietnam since petrol according to Marim is v-expsnvie and only those who are rich can afford cars.

At the mosque, we met some Malaysian and Indonesian groups. They recommended us some places to go shopping. After performing prayer, a woman whose house nearby offered us some rice since we faced some difficulties to buy white rice for lunch. Though we met some who sell nasi berlauk  by the road, they won't sell rice to us if we dont buy their dishes (which probably the Halal status  is unknown). Actually, i brought along ikan bilis goreng with nuts from Malaysia for our temporary food supply, and also two pieces of Mary Brown chicken from LCCT and they were still in gud condition.So, we ate them with the rice at the small hut behind the mosque. Frankly speaking, i didnt really hav the appetite to eat since there's a smell of cats' shit and dirty plates penetrated my breath. But i tried my best to finish the rice.

Next, we took a taxi to Saigon Backpackers Hotel. It was a nice budget hotel with the twin-sharing RM121 for two nights. We invited Marim to stay together in one room, so we were charged for USD5 per night. I think it is quite cheap... and the receiptionist named Tien is kinda cute ;p

THen, we went to Bent Than Market to start our shopping mission. We bought fabrics for the family with reasonables price including jubah, Vietnamese traditional cloth, T-shirts, souvenirs etc. We sent two cloths to the tailor and they promised to finish sewing them for Mommy in 1day. I gave them my hotel address and the dress will be sent to the hotel by them.

                                                           English cotton: only rm30

Golden fabric for myself

                                                                        For Marym

4th May (Friday)

3rd day in Ho chi minh and i just realized i was broke! I spent around rm500-700 shopping at Bent Than when i myself brought only around RM1k- 1.2k. In the morning, Tien informed us that there will be a tourist guide coming to pick those who had given names for a half-day trip to Chu Chi Tunnel. Since the fee is just around 200,000 VND (around RM30 per person including ticket fee), we volunteered our names. We brought two egg sandwiches made by the Hotel maid since we didnt really have the time for breakfast.

The sandwich bread is similar to the French loaf but in a smaller size - I havnt even seen any bread loaf like Gardenia or Hi-Five in Vietnam. It was the time when i started blaming my sister for being forgetful to bring one from Malaysia.The journey to the place took about 2hour (around 60km from ho chi minh city). We also visited Handycraft shop and spoke to the handicapped people.

Chu Chi Tunnel is a very interesting place to be visited. This is a highly recommeded place for those who love history and those who intended to understand the Vietnam War. I never knew that the nationalism one could have would unite more than 6,000 ppl and soldiers to plan strategies to attack the US army and to build a hidden home. Experiencing to go along the tunnel scares me a little since i found it difficult to breath. So, we went through for only 10 metre and went out for the exit entry, gasping for air. We were also given the opportunity to try the M16 (which i didnt) and tried some free steamed tapioca a.k.a war food.

After visiting Chu Chi Tunnel, the bus dropped us by the War Remnant Museum, where we could read and understand about the Vietnam War. The fee is only RM3 per person. We took pictures at the museum (i wonder why here, they never prohibited camera) and visited the place where victims of the war waiting for death punishment. Skeletons were placed in certain parts to enhance the grotesque mode.

After War Museum, we took a taxi to a mosque nearby. After jamak our zuhur-asar prayer, we went looking for Halal food. Most halal food in vietnam is quite expensive since only exclusive and elite restaurants offer Muslim food. Marim informed us there is a noodle stall behind the mosque which sells halal noodle with gud and reasonable price. The noodle is called Pho - it is like  a laksa or sometimes kuewtiaw with chicken soup. It is around rm.4.50 per bowl +  a glass of jasmine tea. After eating, we took a bus to the bus station and later, walked to our hotel.

At night, we started feeling hungry again. OHh...we were craving for rice! Luckily, we talked to Tien's friend (also a receptionist) and he gave us two bowls of rice for free from the rice cooker at the hotel kitchen. We were so thankful! Ika and i then ate at our hotel room with kicap cap kipas udang we put in a plastic from Malaysia and the ikan bilis as well. If feels like heaven before we packed our things for another adventure to Phang Rang the next morning!

5th May (Saturday)
We checkout from our hotel and took pictures with Tien and others. Tien walked us to the bus stop and the journey to Phang Rang , Marim's hometown took about 6hours from Ho chi minh city. It is not so much about the distance, but they are allowed to speed for about 60km/per hour only due to the incovenience road etc. It was cool to travel by an aircond bus with bed- - which costs only RM30 per person! ;)

Arriving Marim's place at late evening. We were given special tour by motorbikes by her cousins. Hehe. We visited her aunty houses and most of them gave us a very warm welcome. Marim's mom cooked some dinner for us- Thank god i fould rice again!

I slept peacefully, called our parents to tell how lovely Marim's family is.

6th May (Sunday)
We wanted to visit the beach but it was raining. Marim and others only own motorbikes and we have to bear to the limitation of visits we could make when the weather is not wonderful. Marim's mom cooked us lovely breakfast.

I told marim that i'd like to make Malaysian food for her and family - Laksa and Ayam goreng ala KFC. Marim promised me to bring us to the morning market the next day to buy the ingredients. Due to our request, her mom slaughtered the chicken at the farm and kept half of it for us to prepare the cooking.

In the evening, the rain stopped. We visited the Champa Temple/Tower.

Marim's husband, Hasief asked us to visit his sister. Before that, we dropped by a supermarket to buy wheat flour but we couldnt find one. How sad. Later after magrib, we went to a SEAFOOD restaurant near the beach and ate grilled ketam and kupang. Hasief also ordered seafood porridge and we were really fulled that night.

Hasief also suggested us to visit a coffee shop nearby. We drank yoghurt and ika ordered coffee. It was really fun! We talked all night a long - just like we did in UIA! :)

We came back with a happy heart. We slept soundly.. * though i knew Ika wacthed Running Man on my laptop dat night.

7th May (Monday)

We ate nasi goreng cooked by Marim. Going to the market with Marim but we were not able to find fresh sardine for making Laksa. Too bad coz the sardine available is only the ones in the cans. The salads all the vegetables we bought meant for Laksa eventually kept in the refrigerator for other menus.

We then went for Saloon and facial near Marim's village. Washing hair and facial costs only RM2!!! :) We really had fun. Everyone was looking at me and asked where i'm from. Guess i look like an alien to the vietnamese :p

The tailor here only makes baju kurung around RM16 but i told marim it's better for me to do it at Malaysia since only one day left for me to settle things at vietnam. Then, in the afternoon we fried the chicken. We brought it for a picnic at the beach in the evening with Marim's cousins. They love our Malaysian fried chicken.

Later at night, Marim, Hasief and the cousins brought us to try noodle. I kinda not like it very much but it was okay. It is like our Laksa being eaten with budu! WEird, but the family loves it very much. We also went to the same coffee shop and ate coconut ice cream.

It tastes like heaven! it is the best moment ever!

8th May (Tuesday)
It is our last day in Marim's village. We visited her uncles and aunties again. We mostly stayed at home and did our packing to take a bus to Ho CHi Minh again. We took pictures with the whole family before going off to the town.

Hasief and Marim's cousins took us to a beautiful restaurant and we drank yogurt again. That was the best yogurt drink i ever had!

Our bus departs at 9pm. We took the one with bed again. We  said our last goodbyes to Hasief and others. Marim going with us to send us back to the airport.

9th May (Wednesday)
Arriving Ho Chi Minh in the morning and went to the mosque for Subuh prayer. We ate noodle at the same stall again. Then, we went to Ben Than Market to buy Along's T-shirt. Around 7.30am, we took a bus to the airport. Again....spending about RM1 for each of us and also for the luggage.  Before flying off at 10.40am, we ate rice and lauk Marim brought and said our last goodbye to her.

We arrived LCCT at 1.30pm and Penang at 5.45pm.

What a lovely and unforgettable trip!
I owe Marim and her family my hugs and love!