Friday, 7 March 2014

Ho Chi Minh

My family and I visited Ho Chi Minh City in December. My friend Michelle is posted there for work and we were gonna visit her and also travel up to a beach resort in Ho Tram together. 

If you've been reading my blog, you'd know that my family has this tradition of spending New Year's Eve which is also my mom's birthday overseas, so all the more we celebrate it abroad! :)

Here are the pictures!

Day 1 - Singapore to Ho Chi Minh

Say Hello to the very cute Spongebob Square Pants characters at Terminal 3!

We look very ready to board the plane!
Mother & Daughters OOT:D
I practically lived in hats the whole of December, thanks to the rainy weather ;)

My dad looks like he's becoming part of the chair while waiting to board LOL!

Selfie time cos the lighting was not bad 
About 2 hours later
We arrived in Ho Chi Minh!
Checked into Michelle's apartment in district 11 which is only 25minutes away from the airport :)
View from her apartment

And Michelle brought us to this pancake place for our very first taste of local Vietnamese food
Fresh prawn spring rolls
I really prefer the fried version but apparently that's not available at this shop and is more popular in the north than in the south. 

Mushroom pancake to eat with big leafy vegetables 
It's very "vege tasting"...

What does the fox say?
Decided to be like Mr Foxy on my sweater hehe~

After the pancake place, we went to the next door for steamboat.
This restaurant has seriously set THE benchmark for us in terms of steamboat experience.
You order, they cook for you!
Just look at the spread.
That's only a portion of what we ordered.
Simply the best and ALL of us agree! :D

We were gonna visit the Cu Chi Tunnels the next day so we decided to stock up on some bread from Paris Baguette for our 3hr road trip to the war memorial site. 
Their Paris Baguette outlets are so nice!
Look at their giant Paris Baguette teddy!
So cute, all of us took turns to take pics with it haha!

We headed back to Michelle's apartment in District 11 cos we were all pretty tired from one whole day of travelling.

Michelle's birthday & Christmas presents filled this luggage :D 
Time to open the pressies!!

Say hello to Peckie the Penguin!
Belle got Brennan Plaid skirt from SheCaptivates and utensils for trekking for Michelle!

Lai Yee got a peterpan collared blouse alongside Christmas cookies for Michelle!

Our game card for Michelle where we wrote Merry Christmas in at least 8 different languages! 

Day 2 - Củ Chi Tunnels Tour and the begining of our food journey! ;P

The Cu Chi Tunnels are a complex network of connecting underground tunnels located in the Cu Chi district of Ho Chi Minh. They were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam, and were the Viet Cong's base of operations for the Tet Offensive in 1968.

The complex of tunnels at Củ Chi which spans across about 121km has been preserved by the Vietnamese governement and turned into a war memorial park with two different tunnel display sites, Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc. The Ben Duoc site contains part of the original tunnel system, while the Ben Dinh site which is closer to Saigon, has tunnel reconstructions. We went to the site in Ben Dinh. There was alot of walking involved so I'm glad we all wore comfortable shoes.

All seated and ready for our 2.5hr bus ride from the city to our destination!

The tour included a group tour guide and here, he was demonstrating how the Vietnamese actually hide in the tunnels.
As you can see, he's very skinny and he totally moved down the entrance of the tunnel with ease!
That's how the tunnel looks like after he closed the top cap.
Very well camouflaged don't you think?
 What lies beneath...
I think its really not suitable for the claustrophobic.
 Tourists could also have a go at going into the tunnel.
Young and fearless Korean boy haha!
 This tour guide was explaining  about another kind of tunnel which has been made bigger to accommodate larger sized tourists.
The young and fearless Korean boy strikes again!
Wonder how they breathed underground?
The had these well hidden holes for ventilation. 
But the tour guide also did mention that air beneath wasn't very good and the people living underground were at risk of snake and rat attacks which caused sickness.
 This one is really made much bigger for tourists.
We went to try it.
Its still cramped inside and other than the torches held by some of the guides, 
 You see, we looked happy before entering the tunnels...

But seriously, its not for the everyone...
I'm usually not claustrophobic or anything but this experience of being underground in cramped and total darkness made all of us claustrophobic!

Anyway, moving on, check out this trap!
On the surface, its like a very normal looking patch of grass. nothing out of the ordinary.
But once the American soldiers step on it....

There's basically no escape.
They had tons of these self made booby traps laid out for the American soldiers during the Vietnam war and this grass path one is just one of the many that we saw during the tour.
Some of the artillery they used
 Here, my parents join the soldiers in taking a break 

They also had a shooting range where tourists could try their hand at shooting at a fee.
Don't know how much cos we didn't try but it was super loud!
Random pic of the cute litter of pups we saw at the area :)
The tour didn't include lunch so when we arrived back in the city, we were famished and went for lunch at this Italian and Japanese fusion restaurant in District 1 called 4P. 
They served pasta, pizza etc..
Clam Chowder

The best French Onion soup I've ever had! 

We all shared pizza with 2 different toppings on each pizza

After lunch, we headed back to the apartment to rest and freshen up before we headed out for dinner again! :P
We did some shopping along the way as well...

Dinner at a Japanese Restaurant in District 1

 Pretty Pretty!

Clearly a hat night for us girls!

We went to Grand Park Hyatt Hotel for dessert and tea after dinner. 
Its here where I got to savour the best Creme Brulee ever!!!

Day 3 - Road Trip to Ho Tram & New Year's Eve

Our road trip to a Vietsovpetro Resort in Ho Tram took us on a 3hr van ride. My butt hurt. But the resort was so beautiful, it made the 3hr van ride worthwhile! Well, at least for now until we took the van back the next day :P We were here to spend New Year's Eve as well my as my mom's birthday :)

Mic looks all ready for beach vacay!

Look at the view from our room!
View from our room
A very inviting looking pool

Our room
Ooohhh, open concept bath room!

Alright, time to check out the pool and the gorgeous beach chairs

Call me crazy but I really like this double bun hairdo I had haha!
Did it to beat the heat, keep my hair from getting wet, to maintain the curls and of course to look kawaii! 

Time for a swim :)

We had dinner, and basically all three meals at the hotel restaurant. 
We surprised my mom with a birthday cake after dinner cos it was her birthday! :)
Happy Birthday to the coolest, most fashionable and stylish Mom!<333

Family Portrait :)

With Michelle too ;)

Time for OOT:Ds

Alex's & Mine

Michelle's & Mine

Day 4: Ho Tram back to Ho Chi Minh & Chill Skybar

We explored the beach after breakfast the next day.
When we reached the day before, it was high tide so there wasn't any beach at all, but since the tide went down and it was such a beautiful day, we decided to talk a walk and see what we can find.
The beach was quite peaceful cos there weren't that many people around

We headed back to Ho Chi Minh city after lunch.
Yes, its another 3hr drive back and my butt seriously hurt :(

That night, we visited the Chill Sky Bar in District 1.
Its quite a nice place for catching the sunset and to get a bird's eye view of the city.
Check out the city skyline!   
Large amount of riders everywhere!

No I'm not drunk! 
Just goofing around hahaha!

We went for dinner after Chill Sky Bar.  
Since it was our last night in HCM, we went back to Old Hong Kong restuarant for their steamboat.
No regrets and its super yummy!
Totally set a new bench mark for steamboat.
None have been able to compare ever since we came back :/ spoiled.

Day 5: Lu'sine Cafe & Back to Singapore

The next day, Michelle went back to work so we were left on our own to explore the area.
Its really quite daunting cos of the language barrier. The don't really understand what you're trying to say and most of the time its through showing of name cards of the place you wanna go or through gesturing.
We met Michelle for a scrumptious dimsum lunch at a nearby chinese restaurant. Nearby, but we still had to get a cab on our own and tell the driver the location. The place we were gonna go was supposed to be a 5 minute cab ride away. It turned out to be like a 15 minute ride away. You know when you're not familiar with a place, cabbies will bring you on a city tour to charge you more. :/
Oh well...

Hung around the mall we ate at for awhile while Michelle went back to work.
We checked out her recommendation, Lu'sine; an industrial themed cafe at District 1. Same thing, we had to cab there. 
The cabby alighted us at the right area just that the cafe was tucked away on the 2nd floor so it took us awhile to locate it.
But I would say, its a real hidden gem!
We loved the place alot, Michelle knew us quite well hahahaha...
The walkway of the restaurant

They had a concept store within the cafe

Time for food!!!
A highly raved chocolate fudge cake

We also ordered fries to share a lime soda each :)

The 1st floor of where the cafe was located was actually an art area, which sold art pieces done by local artists.

Love all the European styled buildings in District 1! 

We wandered around the area after teabreak.
Waited for Michelle to knock off before heading back for dinner and to grab our luggages to go to the airport.

Michelle gave us a treat at NYDC near her place :)
After dinner, it was all like "grab luggages and time to go"!
Good thing Michelle's place was near the airport so we reached pretty quickly :)
We had loads of fun in HCM during our 5 days there.
Thanks Mic for being such a great host and a fantastic tour guide!

After a 2.5hrs flight, it was back to Singapore and back to reality cos work started the very next day.

That concludes my 2013,
2014, please be good to us!

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