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Good Yoghurt Vietnam!

oh and a nice city too...

sunny
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Our flight to Kuala Lumpur was “re-timed,” which we are pretty sure is just a more pleasant way of saying delayed. It was only by an our or so though which was good. However once we got to Kuala Lumpur our flight to Ho Chi Minh was also delayed. Again it was not by very long just an hour and a half or so but it was still annoying and meant we would arrive quite late.

We caught a taxi from the airport to the main travellers area, and had our first introduction to the dollar/dong dichotomy. More often than not you are quoted prices in US Dollars and then you can either pay with them or you then have to convert it to Vietnamese Dong. They work on the basis that 18,000 Dong is 1 USD. Good job that we already carry around a calculator to work out our daily spendings because it really has come in handy.

First impressions of Ho Chi Minh were good, it felt quite modern and it definitely buzzed with people. Most of them were riding around of scooters/motorbikes, I have never seen so many in all my life. Every one is very safety conscious though, well when it comes to helmets, which are worn by all and appear to act as another fashion accessory. The driving is a little sketchy in places, but we have come to expect that so it was nothing new. Both of us were feeling a bit sleepy so we ended up crashing at the first place we came to. On the face of it, it seemed clean, fairly new just a little compact. After a while though we noticed a smell coming from the bathroom and resigned ourselves to finding some where better the next morning.

The area we were staying is definitely tourist-ville, there are dozens of hotels, bars, cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops and so on. We found a room above a gallery (this seems to be good business here, people reproduce famous paintings to sell to tourists) and were really happy. It was perhaps a little tired but it was quite large and the people were friendly. So far their bad reputation was looking a little shakey. As it was Sunday we couldn't do some of the things we needed to, so we just had a easy introduction to Vietnam. After a little bit of a walk around we stopped for lunch and had our first (of many) bowl of noodle soup. This is one of the staples when it comes to food here and is eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The soup is really more like a broth and always has a very clean and fresh taste. It was a good culinary day all round, we had a very nice dinner and I continued to hone my chop stick skills and then came our best find of all. For desert we ventured in to the bright, colourful land of Yoghurt Space.
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Neither of us had ever really gone in for frozen yoghurt before but we are now complete converts, well to Yoghurt Space at least which unfortunately appears to be HCM City based. I won't go in to too much detail but you get to use Mr Whippy style machines and fill up your own tub with lots of different flavours like coconut, passion fruit, coffee, chocolate and then there's a whole host of toppings to choose from. I am sad to say that I think it has ruined ice cream for me, it just isn't as good. We went back every day we were there.

The next day spent in Vietnam's second city was a fairly frustrating one. It reconfirmed to us that you should never just take people's word for it. We got our visa for Vietnam in Manila and we were quite pressed for time so we decided to get a two week visa which could be issued on the spot, we knew it would not be long enough but we were told we could extend it once we were there. So off we trotted bright and early Monday morning to jump through the administrative hoops so we could get on with our travels. However when we finally found the right building we were told that two week visas could not be extended and we would have to get a travel agent to apply for a new one. It baffled us both that a government official would be directing us to some high street travel agent, who are usually trying to con you out of all your money, to sort this out when we ourselves were willing and able, but there you go. We did a bit of research and it seemed this was the case, however we were now confused about what to do for the best as it was going to take five working days and we were entertaining the idea of coming back to Vietnam at a later point to see the north.

While we pondered we headed over to the famous Ho Chi Minh Post Office which is situated next to the cathedral. They are both set in a very spacious square and the grand buildings feel more European than Asian.
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We were hoping to pick up a package from Adam's mum containing all the necessities to revive his camera but unfortunately it hadn't arrived yet. So that was another spanner in the works. We spent the rest of the day um-ing and ah-ing and in the end decided that we would hand the passports in, rent a motorbike to see the South and then return to Ho Chi Minh to pick them and Adam's package up before venturing North. It was a day of organisation as we sat in a coffee shop and using the free wifi worked out all the dates and booked the rest of the flights for Asia. So now we just have our fingers crossed that nothing goes wrong. That night we decided to be a bit lavish with our dinner choices and dined on Shrimps, Snails and Wild Boar amongst other things.
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On our last day in Ho Chi Minh we actually got a bit of site seeing in, after organising the motorbike for the next day that is. It cost us $5 or 90,000 Dong per day for a fully automatic bike which in hindsight was a really good deal. They were a little concerned that we couldn't give them our passports for insurance but we managed to get round it. After that we headed over to the Vietnam War Museum which was a sobering experience. Outside there are a number of planes and helicopters that people posed with and then inside it was quite stark.
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There are no big visual displays or anything that was instantaneously eye-catching but as soon as you wondered over to one wall and began to read you were completely drawn in to the tragedy of it. The victims of Agent Orange, the gas which was used by the Americans was what really got me. It is not only the people who lived through the war that suffered but their children and their children's children. Many have been born with terrible deformities and live completely restricted lives, although in a number of pictures they are shining out with brilliant smiles. I think you would have to be pretty heartless for it not to strike a chord and I wondered how American's feel when they visit.

After leaving the museum we delved in to some of Ho Chi Minh's markets and spent a bit of money on various bits and bobs. We then continued sauntering around for a little while and ended up getting completely drenched in an immense downpour. We decided it was time to invest in some ponchos which are a necessity in the rainy season. It continues to surprise me how the motorists of Vietnam change in to this rain gear so quickly. They appear to have Superman's outfitting changing speed, as it seems the rain has only just begun and the streets are full of people encased in brightly coloured, plastic tents which billow in the wind. When it didn't look like the rain was going to give up even a little we hailed a cab to take us back to the tourist area. After we'd dried off, we headed out for some dinner and then got an early night. We had an adventure to begin in the morning.

More Soon

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 03:53 Archived in Vietnam Tagged round_the_world

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