My Vietnam Trip

Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam situated at the west bank of the Saigon River. The city is no stranger to a dizzying array of sights and sounds thanks to its mixture of chaotic traffic, timeless French colonial buildings and modern skyscrapers.

On the side note, hectic work schedules have pushed back my posting about this trip which was made two months ago but the memories of Ho Chi Minh’s charm still resonates strongly in my mind.

1. The iconic Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral which was constructed back in 1863 is the most famous landmark in Ho Chi Minh City today. Towering at 60 meters tall, it was reputedly the most beautiful cathedral amongst all the French colonies back in the 19th century.

2. The Reunification Palace or otherwise known as Independence Palace offers a glimpse of the former presidential home and workplace. Guided tours to visitors are offered daily around the four floors and basement of the building.

3. Visitors are greeted with a traditional musical performance using instruments that were made from bamboo during the guided tour at the palace.

4. An interior shot of the hallway inside the Independence Palace.

5. A glimpse of the Presidential room with antique furniture and bare walls. The Palace is noted for its striking 1960s architecture, the creation of Paris-trained Vietnamese architect Ngo Viet Thu

6. Visitors making their way along the basement level tunnel which leads to a command bunker room.

 7.  Nha Hang Ngon offers an excellent range of Vietnamese street food in a multi level old French villa. Food were really tasty and thanks to its popularity, the restaurant draws a sizable crowd at any time of the day. Customers can freely walk around their open kitchen to see how the food are being prepared. The restaurant is located at 160 Pasteur St, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

 

8.  The Central Post Office which was built in 1886 is one of the oldest building in Ho Chi Minh City. Located next to the Notre Dame Cathedral, the building is certainly a sight to marvel with its intricate French Renaissance design.

9. A street peddler was seen selling handcrafted pop-up cards featuring famous landmarks and icons around Ho Chi Minh City outside the Central Post Office.

 10. Traffic in Ho Chi Minh City is best describe as chaotic and intense as countless of motorbikes tend to come from all different directions. Tourists will often find it difficult to cross any road and would need to brave themselves to walk with blind faith as bikes swoop by closely.

11. Foetuses that are not far from hatching were being deep fried outside Ben Thanh Market. Apparently fried foetuses are a common street food around Ho Chi Minh City.

12. Rows of fried foetuses were placed beside the wok.

13. The seller was holding a hotdog bun with fried foetus as the fillings.

14. A candid shot of an old man sitting outside Ben Thanh Market.

15. A lottery man was writing down his sales on a piece of paper.

16. A trip to Ho Chi Minh City wouldn’t be complete without taking a tour to Mekong Delta. The journey begins at a port city called My Tho where visitors will ride on a motorboat for a cruise along the Mekong River.

17. The Mekong River cruise will take visitors to a tropical fruit island where they can sample a platter of assorted fresh tropical fruits.

18. A villager was playing folks songs using a bow string instrument known as Đàn Gáo. Apparently, Đàn Gáo is one of the instruments used in traditional Vietnamese orchestra.

19. As visitors continued the cruise along Mekong Delta on a rowing boat, the journey will take them to smaller canals of the Delta.

20. It is interesting to learn that there is a bee farm along the Mekong Delta where Vietnamese royal jelly is being produced by the locals. A bee was seen on a stalk of bananas at the bee farm.

21. A close up shot of a beehive frame at the farm.

22. The bee farm offers honey tea which is reputedly good for health. The honey tea was brewed by pouring hot water onto the tea leaves and mixed with a spoonful of homemade island honey.

23. Among the numerous food that we ate at Mekong Delta, the Elephant Ear Fish is probably one of the most unique dish that we had. The Elephant Ear Fish or “Tai Tuong” fish is considered as premium seafood at Mekong Delta. It is said that the fish should be deep fried with its scales on for good fortune.

24. A candid shot of the boat lady who ferried us between the Mekong Delta and the port.

25. Vietnam is famous for their delicious signature dish: Pho. Unlike our local Kuey Teow, Vietnamese pho is thinner and cooked with flavourful beef noodle soup garnished with fresh mint, cilantro (coriander leaves), bean sprouts, basil, lime, and chilli peppers on the side.

26. Located about 45 miles northwest of Ho Chi Minh City and stretching 250 km below the city, the Cu Chi tunnels are an immense network of underground tunnels which were once used by Viet Cong guerrillas as hiding spots during combat as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous guerrilla fighters. Tourists can crawl through the passage that is open to the public inside the tunnels to experience the hardships of the guerrillas.

27. What may look like ‘mole hills’ on the surface are actually small air holes with a size no bigger than a fifty cents coin that provide fresh oxygen to the occupants underground during wartime.

 28. Hand grenades were spotted at the weapon bunker at Chu Chi Tunnel.

 29. Tourists also get a chance to sample steamed tapioca with brown sugar at Chu Chi Tunnel. Apparently, these tapioca strips were a staple food for the Viet Cong people during wartime.

30. Sailing boats made from tin cans were sold at Chu Chi Tunnel.

31. Quan Bo To Xuan Dao serves the best beef steamboat and barbecued meat. I have never eaten any food as tasty as this before. The dried noodles were also lips smacking. The restaurant is located at To 3, Khu Pho 2, TT Cu Chi, Huyen Cu Chi. Tel: 08.3792.3794

32. A cyclist was waving towards the camera just outside Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral.

33. Three young boys were peeping over the main entrance gate at a local school opposite the cathedral.

34. Motorbikes are the most common way to move around the city. In commercial areas, parking lots are readily available for motorists to park their vehicles.

35. A candid shot of two kindergarten students in the morning.

36. A little girl was spotted outside the famous Muoi Xiem restaurant specializing in egg pan cake. To read more about the history of Vietnamese egg pan cake, click here.

37. The Vietnamese iced coffee is a must try beverage in Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnamese iced coffee is a combination of coffee, condensed milk and ice. Taking the first sip is akin to having an instant coffee rush experience due to the concentrated coffee powder and very sweet condensed milk.

38. Another candid shot of two school children after schooling hours.

39. The best way to enjoy Vietnamese food is at make shift stalls by the street side. These stalls are found at just about every walkway in the city.

40. Although the hygiene level is rather questionable, the food was really tasty. I had a chance to try their dried noodles which was really delicious.

41. Some of the ingredients used to prepare the noodles.

42. One of the most memorable moment in Ho Chi Minh City was meeting Mr. Ta Huu Ngoc. Mr. Ta is a shoe repairer for over 20 years specializing in repairing all kind of footwear along the walkway of Le Thanh Ton St at District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City. He speaks fluent English and even cheekily utters the phrase “Malaysia Boleh!”

43. A close up shot of Mr. Ta repairing a shoe with his tools.

44. A peek inside Mr. Ta’s tool bag. During my conversation with him, a steady stream of customers were handing their shoes for him to repair.

45. Mr. Ta operates in fron tof No. 191B Le Thanh Ton St. Dist. 1, HCMC. Tel: +84 982 354 465

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