Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Part 3: Last day in Vietnam - Visiting Ho Chi Minh

We didnt spend too much time in HCM as our flight to Malaysia wd be the day after we arrived the city. Our bus from Phan Rang stopped at the HCM bus station at around 4.30 am,so we directly checked in at Kingston Hotel. For ur info.. the hotel is about 8min walking distance to Bent than market, and is also opposite to a Halal restaurant named Pandan restaurant, owned by a Malaysian.

Breakfast is also included in this hotel - and i noticed there were many Malaysians staying here too,mostly those who travelled in a large group. There was a variety of food served including noodles n pastries. So.. Just be careful to not take the non-halal dish. For the first day,we were so starving but lazy to go downstair. Glad that we had our very own brunch packed by Marim's mother.

Marinated fried beef  and rice packed by
Marim's mother before we left Phan Rang.
We ate these for breakfast & lunch on our 1s day
in HCM. Saved our day and pocket!

Our first day in HCM is not complete without visiting the popular market - Bent Than. We planned to window shopping but of course i couldt help myself buying 3pieces of Vietnamese silk,tshirts,bagpack, shoes and etc. Bargain is a MuST!! My husbnd was also able to purchase a Burberry London perfume for men (not ori) for a very reasonable price.

Beautiful Vietnamese silk

Emerald green: two sided colours

Then,we left Bent than and looked for 'telekung' shops at the streets. I was able to buy 10 pieces, with rm25 per 'telekung' to bring them back as souvenirs for my family. Before walking back to our hotel room, we suddenly noticed that we were broke! Thank God ATM was everywhere and you can easily withdraw your money in any ATM machines with a surcharge rm15 per withdrawal. However, good news for Maybank or HSBC card holders as these banks are available and u cn withdraw money  at the ATM without any surcharge.

Red coloured Lycra telekung. Rm25 per piece

After Maghrib, we continued walking to Saigon Square. Surprisingly, the clothes in Saigon Square are much cheaper than ben than but are sold in a fixed price. Only some shops could still tolerate with you if you bargain. We managed to buy some baby clothes for Fateh and his cousins.

Burberry London baby dress for Fateh's cousin

Next,we stopped for dinner at the Daun restaurant which is owned by a Singaporean. This place has been listed by the Trip Advisor as one of the best Halal restaurants in HCM. For dinner, I was craving for Vietnamese "Pho" with chicken soup.. so i thought i have ordered the chicken version but it was nothing similar. The food i ordered was actually "bihun sup Vietnam ayam" and i just gotta know "pho" is always associated with beef slices,not chicken. It was ok bcoz the food still tasted so good..!

The Daun Restaurant

Vietnamese coffee and Dilmah strawberry hot tea

Then,we continued shopping at Night Market. We were able to get souvenirs like keychains,earrings and baby girl traditional dress in a very low price. Thanks to my husbnd for always looking stern enough to 'scare' the salesgirl until she lowered down the price according to the price we wanted. This was the first time i saw my husbnd showing her hidden talent bargaining till we drop!

Yellow Vietnamese girl dress for Fateh's cousin

The next morning, we went for window shopping for the last time and bought lunch from 'Pandan'. After zuhur, we packed our luggages and left Kingston Hotel by a private car booked by the receiptionist. Booking was made earlier,so it was easier to manage our time to go to the airport.

Buying nuts and Halal coffee
 powder before leaving HCM

We boarded the plane from HCM to K.Lumpur at 4.30 pm by Malindo Air.  To sum up, the 6-day trip -- Dalat -Phan Rang- HCM was able to strengthen our relationship as husbnd and wife. Bringing a toddler to travel along with you is never easy without tolerance,patience and cooperation between both of us as parents. My husbnd has genuinely helped me to be a strong mother and wife, and i have encouraged him to be a positive father and leader.

Imam Shafi'e has once said, "Travel! You will find a replacement for what you have left"  and what my husband and I both found are really precious to be replaced with neither money nor gold. We have enthralled  love,faith and trust for each other and most of all, we have built closer relationship to Allah - the Creator of the universe.

The world is too much to be explored and always remember, if the lion doesn't leave his den, he cannot hunt.

Till then, hope 2see you in the next entry (if i travel again insyaallah).
With love.

Our mujahid

Monday, October 3, 2016

Part 2 : A Two-day Visit in Phan Rang, Vietnam

The journey from Dalat to Phan Rang by bus (which was actually a van) supposedly took about 4hours but to our surprise, we arrived earlier than expected. Actually, this is my second time visiting Phan Rang as i had been here in 2011 with my sister Ika, visiting my Vietnamese friend, Marim. We used to study in the same university together in International Islamic University Malaysia (or known as IIUM or UIA) completing our degree and Marim went back to her hometown in Phan Rang, Vietnam after graduation in 2009.

This time around, we will visit n stay with Marim again for my husbnd said instead of directly go to HCM, it is better to see her now as the chance to catch up each other again is impossible due to living in different countries. However, things got a little tense up when we weren't able to communicate properly with the van conductor, so we had difficulty to inform her the place we should stop. The driver wasn't informed about the situation (i dont know hw 2say bus station in Vietnamese but google map didnt help much whn we googled for phan rang bus station), and it seemed everyone in the van trying to help us but we ended up like chicken-and-duck talk due to the communication barrier. Besides, the van was seen to hop on and off the passengers before arriving the last destination.

So, we desperately called Marim and luckily, Marim explained to the van conductor in Vietnamese and we finally stopped somewhre to take a taxi to Marim's house.

Fateh slept all the way through our journey until we arrived Marim's house. Actually, it is a blessing to have a Muslim friend from a non-Muslim country as accomodation and Halal meal aren't a big problem. Travelling is either by taxi or motorcycle. We had lunch and performed prayer at Marim's house before leaving to a beach nearby to savour the seafood.

The food of course was very tasty. Vietnamese cuisines from my opinion, is a mixture of Chinese and Thailand dish. Most meat is either freshly boiled with vegetables or grilled after being marinated with herbs. The fried fish dipped in Vietnamese chillie sauce has always been my fave since i visited her house in 2011!

Marim's mother cooked a lot for us and i was so flattered that she cooked my fave fish again and also the famous Vietnamese Pho.

Lunch: Vietnamese cuisines

Tasty meat (daging korbing during Aidiladha dish,)
Fish n veggies

'Pho' in the making

The famous Vietnamese beef noodle
(Known as Pho)

The salads or 'ulam'  eaten with 'pho':
Salad,mint, bean sprout anf basil leaves

Dont forget the chillie sauce and lime 

Fateh having fun eating

Vietnamese bread and eggs

Dating with a Vietnamese aunty. Haha.

Energy drink

One of the best seafood at the beach

Having Jasmine tea,coffee and
coconut ice cream at night

The famous Jasmine tea and Vietnamese coffee

12 years of friendship between
two countries

Actually, visiting Phan Rang is more like walking down the memory lane. Everything at Marim's house looks and smells so familiar; from the same friendly faces of her Mom and relatives, the aunthentic local food, the sound of birds, chickens n sheep outside her house really brought back the memory during my first time visit here. Due to time limitation..we didnt go to many interesting places. Plus, Marim's husbnd, Hasif is presently working,so with two daughters need 2b taken care of, Marim had to wait for Hasief 2finish work or ask help frm her cousins to bring us touring around the city by motorcycles. However,we still enjoyed our stay and owe her family for the great hospitality.

Two days n one night at Marim's and we were getting ready for the next adventure. We took a taxi to the bus station and continue our 7hour journey with our toddler to Ho Chi Minh City by sleeping bus.

(To be continued)

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Part 1: Tips to Dalat City, Vietnam (especially for Muslim travellers)

2016 Trip

Salam and hello to all. I am currrently not sure whether ppl are still reading my blog or not but i feel obligated to update the adventure my husband,my son Fateh and I went through during our 6 day-stay in Dalat,Phan Rang and Ho Chi Minh. The main reason is probably bcoz this may help those who are seeking for tips to travel to Dalat, Vietnam as there are not much info about it provided for Muslim travellers.

For your info, this is my 1st time updating my blog as a mother and a stay-at-home Mom! My son has just turned one yr old,and this trip marks his second visit to another country after Japan. Fateh visited Tokyo whn he was 5months old but sadly,i wasnt able to write anything to share my experience here due to coping with motherhood n being a fulltime home maker.

Here is our example of checklist for the trip. Bear in mind to check the temperature before u fly to Dalat as the weather could be very cold at night or cloudy due to rainy season.

1. Baby clothes and sweaters ( Dalat's temperature around 24 degree during our visit)
2. Enough diapers/napkins
3. Wet tissues
4. Baby's essential creams
5. Thick n thin socks
6. Baby gloves/snow cap (just 2keep him warm)
7. Thermometer
8. Toiletries
9. Baby's fave toys to keep him entertained on flight or in the hotel room
10. Light snacks (biscuits,cereals,bread, milk)

1. Sweaters
2. Raincoat/umbrella
3. Backpack
4. Prayer mat
5. Mineral water (keep the bottle for future use especially at the restroom)
6. Canned food/ maggi (note that there are NO HALAL restaurants in Dalat except vegetarian restaurants)
7. Milo 3 in 1/ coffee
8. Thick n thin socks

A journey with a young toddler is not complete without some sort of crying dramas and tense situation. So, we will try our best to make sure Fateh has got his enough play,milk and sleep. Luckily, he is still fully breasfeeding and it is easier to manage him as i could just pull out my nursing cover and practically nursed him anytime and anywhre. He also enjoyed munching the cereals we brought for him on the plane and it relaxed him a little.

Nursing Fateh at boarding hall

DALAT ( also known as Little Paris)

We boarded our Airasia flight to HCM on Monday 12th Sept, before departing frm the domestic airport to Dalat by Vietnam Airlines (if plane ticket is ur corcern, u may choose to travel by bus from HCM-Dalat and this takes around 8-9hr journey). Unlike travelling by bus, flying to Dalat from HCM took about 50mins only. Upon arrival, we decided to take a taxi by Mailinh company which offers us a fixed price ticket around 160,000 Vnd. It is bettr not to go by metre as it's gonna cost u a lot more as the distance from airport to Dalat city is about 30km.

Our hotel is Tulip Hotel, and its location is at the heart of the Dalat city and it is quite near to the main tourist attractions. Actly, there are a lot of convenient and affordable hotels in the centre of Dalat or even at the countryside. If you prefer a more quite and peaceful area, you may look for a hotel near the golf club. There are classic French designed cottage,huts and motels everywhre to match the taste of your dream holiday. Some even look a little bit creepy but for those who are into old romantic films or Harry Potter movies, they wd be perfect choices to go!

View from our hotel.
It was always raining in the evening!


You can either choose to travel by these following transports:
1) Bus
2) Taxi
3)  Rental Motorcycle
4) Rental car+ driver (hotel wd usually arrange it 4u. From the info i'v got, foreigners r not allowed to drive the car. So,every rental car has a driver)

Guess which transport we'd chosen? Of course the cheapest and the most exciting one. That is motorcycle! It only costs 120,000 Vnd per day (around rm20). But of course you need to be skillful while enjoying your ride. Since you aren't local, always be slow, cool and steady to avoid accidents.

Here are among the places we managed to visit:

1)  Domaine De Marie
2)  Crazy House
3)  Summer Palace
4)  Dalat Railway
5)  Valley of Love
6)  Dalat Flower Garden

Fateh and i getting ready for a motorbike ride
Our masterpiece to tour around the city

Us with raincoat

Here we go!
Outside Domaine de Marie

The mini Eiffel tower seen from Domaine de Marie

Dalat Railway Station

Family photo
The train schedule

Small garden outside cafe at the train station
Happy family

Dinh Bao Dai (Summer Palace)

Outside Summer Palace

Summer Palace

The beauty of the Crazy House

Outside the Honeymoon room at Crazy House

Quenching your thirst at Fruit juice Cafe inside
Crazy House. Fateh is trying to escape from Mama.
Haha.. *evil laugh

Fateh is attracted to something else

At Valley of Love

At Valley of Love
Love is in the air 

Love is like the wind. You can't see
it but you can feel it.

Dalat Flower Garden
Family shot at lavender garden
Lovely lavender

At Flower garden. Loving the ground more
than the flowers

Fateh is getting excited

Subhanallah! So beautiful!!!

Due to the limitation of time and rainy day, we lost the chance to visit any of the popular waterfalls. I am pretty sure that those who love nature will certainly dont wanna miss experiencing the beauty of Elephant Fall, Pongour Fall and Prenn waterfall. There are more than five waterfalls in Dalat and they are the trademarks of nature here.

Although i felt a bit unlucky to miss these places,  i still enjoyed our motor ride. Fateh felt asleep most of the time on the ride,so, everytime we stopped at the main attractions, we grabbed this chance to snap a lot of photos.


Vietnamese language is widely spoken in Dalat. Majority of senior citizens speak very little English. However, if you are lucky..you can always meet those who speak English very well such as the hotel receiptionist, sales person or the young ones. Besides, tourists who use English are everywhre and you can always say hi or talk to them whnvr necessary.

Dalat is also famous with the agriculture products whrby fruit,flowers and vegetables are available at the street market or Night market. Always be positive when you are not able to communicate using the local language with the farmers or grocers at the shops. From our experience, they always offer help and be kind to you. Try to steal their heart by using some local expressions such as saying hello and thank you in the Vietnamese language.

Being a language teacher myself, i always believe that a language connects human being regardless of race,nationality n skin colour. Always be positive - don't be afraid of learning the local language. Polite gestures and simple smiles (non-verbal language) really help to ease your journey. Don't be bothered if they aren't fluent in English. We came not to judge the language level. We came to explore their world!


Always bring food and drinks along with you if you dont plan to come back to your hotel during your tour. As i hv mentioned earlier, there are NO HALaL food restaurants or mosques in Dalat but vegetarian restaurants are a few. So, u cn either choose to eat your own food or drop by any of the vegetarians'.

Trying the local dairy products
Vegetable fried rice at a vegetarian restaurant.
It takes about 10min walk from Tulip Hotel

Night life 

Praying time may differ according to cities. As for Dalat during my visit, Fajr is at around 4.45am while Zuhur is at 11am ++.  The sun shines early and this actually forces u to wake up early,so, u cn go out early too. Ha3.

We always performed our prayer at our own hotel room. It is easier and more convenient. Besides, Dalat is quite a small town and you can alwys go  bck 2ur hotel anytime u want without any hustle or bustle.

On Wednesdy 14th sept at 10am, we continued our journey from Dalat to Phan Rang by bus (pls see the map to knw exctly whre Phan Rang is)


(To be continued)