A Travellerspoint blog

Vietnamese TV is very strange....

Day 09 (part 2)

rain

The day was hot, and I came across this shopping building that sells only electronics. I went to the level where they sell TV, got a seat, and watched whatever was showing on TV, and did some reading in between. Got hungry soon, so went across the road to get some pastries from the bakery. They have a café, so I got a seat upstairs and continued eating and reading. All of a sudden it rained, and I am truly happy that I was not out in the open.

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Strange looking building

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Vietnamese are as curious and busybody as Malaysians when things happen on the road!

By the time the rain stopped, I had finished my novel already. I went out, and walked to Ben Thanh Market. Lots of stuff but mostly catered to tourist. By 6 p.m. many stalls have already started packing.

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A huge roundabout in the city central.

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Ben Thanh Market

On my way back to the hotel, I passed by a few book exchange stores. Most of the books require me to pay 20k or 30k Dong extra on top of the old book I have. I don't plan on spending any money on books, so I left. Then passed by a hotel which seemed closed this morning. Went in to check the price, they have a nice room for USD10! Only problem is low ceiling, otherwise very nice. Sometimes it's good to be short ya! I reserved the room and paid a deposit. At the lobby I chatted with a Singaporean who is travelling from Saigon up north and planning to go Laos. So I shared with him some of my experiences around places.

Went back to the hotel, and I noticed there were some old books at the lobby, so I asked if I can exchange. To my surprise, he said yes, just choose whatever I want. So I exchanged my book for another one, for free. 80k Dong I paid for the first book and now I am on my third, pretty good huh? I decided to go out and pack dinner, at the same time exchange another USD10. This is going to be my last bunch of Vietnamese Dong, so will try to spend it all before leaving Vietnam. Bought some street food for dinner. The carrot cake tastes good, different from the Malaysian style, but I cannot say the same about Vietnamese chee cheong fun.

As I actually paid attention to the Vietnamese TV channels for the first time today, I noticed something. Some of the shows were chinese, dubbed in Vietnamese, but the way they dub is really…… Initially I thought they were making some special announcements or emergency news during the programme as it's all female voices and I can hear the original dialogue in the background. But after some time I realised that they don't care about the character's gender when they dub, so a guy can have a female Vietnamese voice and a girl can have a male Vietnamese voice. And it can all be the same person doing the dubbing! Furthermore the original dialogue is not totally muted, so what you get is something really funny. I hope you know what I am babbling about. Anyway, spent the rest of the night reorganizing my luggage and prepare for tomorrow's meeting.

Posted by abellim 02:13 Archived in Vietnam Comments (2)

The City of Ho Chi Minh is called Saigon

Day 09

sunny

Either I was too tired, or the soft sleeper bunk is truly comfortable, I fell asleep almost immediately after I boarded the train and woke up at 4:30 a.m. when the train reached Saigon, or currently known as Ho Chi Minh City. But I don't like Uncle Ho, and Saigon sounds more romantic, so Saigon is its name. The sky is still dark. I just noticed that I haven't taken a shower for nearly 48 hours. I plan to go look for a hotel when it's brighter, and I hope I can get an early check-in so that I can take a good shower.

5:15 a.m., I left the train station and walked towards Pham Ngu Lao Street, which supposedly is the place where there are many backpacker guesthouses. I reached there after a 45-minute walk. I am sure I asked more than 10 guesthouses, and prices range between USD14 to 18. Not what I expected. Finally there was one which offered USD12, I bargained it to USD10 and got a room on the 4th floor. In terms of price, this room is the least worth it. I don't want to drag my luggage around any longer, so I decided to check-in for the night. Maybe I will look for a better place later.

How can I describe the room? You can feel the spring coils when lying on the mattress, TV only has Vietnamese channels (no satellite channels), the shower has its water trickling out, etc.... You get the point. What a far cry from all the places I have stayed so far.

I went out after shower. First, I followed the address of the meeting place and walked there, to see how far it is. Not too far, a 15-minute walk should do it. But I have no idea when the meetings are held, and I haven't got contacts of anyone here. Maybe I will get dressed and come here tomorrow evening to see what are my chances.

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Streets of Saigon

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Where is the rider??

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Looks familiar?

After determining the location, I went back to Pham Ngu Lao. There I exchanged USD10 for 173k Dong, bought ticket to Phnom Penh on Wednesday for USD12, bought a bottle of mineral water and burnt some of my photographs onto a CD for 20k Dong. I didn't think I could last that long with a 1GB card!

At the same time I walked around to enquire room rates, but seems like the lowest I can get was USD14. After breakfast I went to sit around in the park and took a bus like the local people do to Cholon (Chinatown). I have no idea which bus to take, and I can't seem to get any answer to my question, so I just tried a bus that had the word "Cholon" on it. But, how far is it? Where should I alight? Questions which I have no answer even till today.

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Bus terminal

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Inside the bus

Anyway I just enjoyed my bus trip and look out of the window, for any place that seems interesting. It's getting very hot again so I alighted somewhere where there is a shopping complex just for the sake of getting some air-con. The shopping complex looked very much like one that we would see in Malaysia. But things are expensive! Watching a movie on a weekday cost 70k Dong, which is around RM14. More expensive than Malaysia!

For the next few hours, I wandered aimlessly (again!) around Chinatown (I'm not sure if it's really where I wanted to go, but I did see some Chinese stuff), and had a few local snacks for lunch. Having visited the central part of Vietnam, I find Saigon uninteresting. I am leaving the museums for visit tomorrow so that might make me like Saigon more I hope?

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Posted by abellim 01:54 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

I am a Beach Boy!

Day 08 (part 2)

sunny

Since I have already finished reading the book I bought yesterday, I decided to get it exchanged for another one at one of the exchange bookstores. I managed to get an older novel without having to pay. After that I started my looooooong walk down the beach. The beach looks very very beautiful from afar. Turquoise water and golden sand. But it's a super hot day, and I can feel my skin going red (not due to shyness) and feeling the aches on my back and legs. I wanted to sit down and get some ice-cream, and I did just that, in a seaside cafe.

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Sheraton Hotel coming soon...

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My 7-Up float!

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The rest of the day I did what almost every non-Vietnamese did, took off my shirt and baked myself on the beach while reading my newly exchange book. During evening time, many families came for picnic and flew kites.

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I started making my way to the train station, stopping for diner and another hour of internet along the way. Got my luggage out, and wait for the train to arrive...

Posted by abellim 05:45 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Somehow, I ended up in Nha Trang

Day 08

sunny

Sleeping bus is not very nice to sleep in! Just as what has happened on the overnight train from Hanoi to Hue, I woke up every couple of hours. Arrived in Nha Trang before 5:30 a.m., and there is a big crowd at the beach already. I wonder what time do they actually wake up! Alighted the bus around 6 a.m. and I am now officially lost in Nha Trang, because I do not have a map of this seaside town! Nha Trang wasn't in my initial plan, as I planned to travel back to Da Nang from Hoi An and take a JetStar flight direct to Saigon. But I hesitated too long and eventually the cheap tickets were all sold out.

Sunrise at Nha Trang
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It's not even 6 a.m., why are there so many people on the beach already?
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I decided that I would prefer taking a train to Saigon tonight. So now I have to find the train station. I walked and walked and walked, trying to find some railway tracks. After an hour's effort, I finally found the train station. The ticket that I wanted to buy is a train that makes more stops, so that I can arrive at Saigon at a more normal time, around 8 a.m. the next day. But the tickets on that train were sold out! So I had no choice but to get ticket from another train, which goes faster and arrives at Saigon around 4 a.m.+. What am I going to do so early in the morning? I got my soft bed ticket at 320k Dong, so I think I have spent a million Dong on my transport alone so far. I am a milionaire! Haha.. Left my luggage at the train station for safekeeping so I don't have to drag it around, 10k Dong.

Nha Trang train station
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The next important thing is to get a map. I found an internet cafe and took down pictures of Nha Trang map (they have no printer to print!). I finished that in 20 minutes, so only had to pay 1000 Dong. That's like RM0.20 for 20-minute use of internet! Very cheap ya... It was when I wanted to jot down something that I realised I lost my pen. Seems like I lose my pen everytime I go travelling. So again I walked around the place hoping to find a stationery shop. I finally found one after a while, and bought a pen for 2000 Dong.

As I am about to find my way out, I realised that the road I am on is not shown on the map! So again, I just base it on my guts to walk in the right direction, half expecting to meet a motor driver and buy a ride to the meeting place. But no! It was the longest stretch of road I have ever walked in Vietnam without anyone offering a ride! Really strange. It's nearly 8:30 a.m. by the time I reach the main road, and quickly approached a motor driver for a ride to the meeting place. 10 minutes later I am in the hall, sweaty, exhausted, and hungry.

Meeting starts at 9 a.m., very small group with a few of our friends plus a number of bible students. They conduct all five meetings in one shot, all conduct by the one and only elder. Except for the public talk, which was played out from MP3, given by someone in Saigon. After meeting we had some association and then went for lunch. Had bun bo hue for the second time. Tastes very good indeed! We said goodbye around 1 p.m.+ and I am on my own again.

Posted by abellim 19:28 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Starting to get boring......

Day 07 (part 2)

sunny

Burnt a couple of hours at the Lighthouse just doing some reading. Left the cafe and continued walking. What a hot day! I walked to the post office to buy some stamps and posted out the postcards that I have written yesterday. Let's see how efficient the postal system in Vietnam is.

This is how the post office looks like inside...
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It is really too hot to continue walking, so I stopped at another cafe again. There is a special offer for Larue beer at 10k Dong plus free corn snacks. So I ordered that and again burnt an hour or so reading and drinking. Soon it was time to head for the tailor shop to gt my shirt. Well, doesn't really seem very impressive to me. I can't really see the difference between it being "made to measure" or those that I buy off the rack. I don't mean it's badly made, let's just say I don't always see great results from "made to measure" stuff. Maybe it's just me? Anyway I got a french-cuff shirt for less than RM40, so that should be a good thing.

Cheap beer and free snack!
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All tailor shops look alike...
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I wonder how some people can spend 4 days or even a week touring Hoi An. Sure, there are beautiful sights but it's so touristy that I am feeling bored already, and I have only been here for 24 hours! I suddenly miss Hue, which I pretty much like it. If ever I come back to Vietnam, I will definitely visit Hue again, maybe also plan a trip to the ruins at DMZ. I am feeling very bored now and I think I have spent too much money sitting around in cafe already, so I found a shady place to sit and do some more writing and reading. I am still not hungry despite now being 4p.m.! I will just have dinner later before boarding the bus.

Good place to sit!
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It's such a lazy day that I finished reading the book I bought in a single day! I had chicken rice for dinner and it costs a whopping 30k Dong! That's more than RM6 for a plate of chicken rice at a roadside stall in Vietnam! Either that is the tourist price or it proves things in Hoi An are expensive. At least the meal tasted good. Now waiting to board the bus to Nha Trang.

Expensive but nice chicken rice...
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7p.m., and I am now on the bus. How to sleep at such an early hour? It's gonna be a long long night...

Ever heard of the "Sleeping bus"?
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Ever seen one?
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Even has lighting effects!
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Posted by abellim 01:44 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

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