Friday, February 10, 2017

2016 Vietnam -- Dalat & HCMC (Risking my CAP to travel)

I wonder what gave me the courage to travel during the horrible & hectic week 11 last year but....  I just did this despite I have tons of assignments deadlines awaiting me LOL so here comes my super late update on my 4 days 3 nights trip to Vietnam!

27/10 - 30/10

Day 1 Dalat

Grab my Herschel backpack with clothes, passport & lectures notes (Yes, cause I have to at least act like a hardworking student on flights so that I feel less guilty throughout this trip LOL) & off I go to the airport YAY!

Mandatory shot of my passport with the boarding pass!

Bringing lecture notes with me is a wise decision because they help me to kill time while I am on flight and waiting for my mum & sister to reach HCMC Tan Son Nhat International Airport. We meet each other around 3pm and we have to take another domestic flight to Dalat. It's actually an hour flight to Dalat but we reach there very late because our flight is delayed for a few times due to heavy downpour :( It's soooo late that we have to cancel some places to visit before dinner *sobs*

We then arrive Ken's House Backpackers after 20mins taxi ride from the airport!

I really like this place especially the design of the lobby! It's just RM210 for 2 nights (3 ppl, breakfast included) and it takes only a short walk to the city area! The only downside is that there are some noise made by some tourists at night.

First thing first: Settle our dinner! #ourpriority

Highlight of the dinner: Fried spring roll (69000VND) In Vietnam, trying out spring rolls is a must!

Ohhhh we meet a group of Singaporeans youngsters in this restaurant as well and they splurge like millionaires lol. (And this restaurant is pretty pricey LOL)

We finally see the crowd when we reach Dalat night market! It's a typical night market selling local food, clothes, etc... just like Malaysia's!

Pizza-inspired snack LOL

Le mannequin with her pizza-inspired snack

Le mannequin with her mung bean drink

While we are very tempted to try out the local snacks, we are too full to put any of them into our tummies :( So we end up buying a mung bean drink & a mini pizza only hahaha! Nevertheless, we bought many dried fruits & vegetables chips from L'angfarm store here! *I miss them so much sobs*

After that we have a good 20 mins walk back to the hostel. The weather is just as awesome as Genting Highland's that none of us is complaining about the walk! *love*

Day 2 Dalat

Starting the day right with Vietnamese coffee, French baguette & homemade omelette! We are so grateful that the host does this for us upon request for breakfast that they are all warm and delicious!

One more thing I like about this hostel is their service. The receptionist can speak fluent English and is always ready to help the backpackers to settle their problems. They help us to get a taxi driver for a half day trip at an affordable price (42USD) and also settling our transportation problem to the airport for the next day!

The half day trip begins: Tuyen Lam Lake & Trúc Lâm Temple + Thuc Voi (Elephant Fall) + Dalat Railway Station + Lunch

While the taxi driver of our half day trip can only speak a lil English, he is very nice & warm, trying very hard to explain everything he could to us and he never brings us to any souvenir shops that force tourist to buy things!

1st stop: Trúc Lâm Temple

It takes a short climb to reach this temple and its garden! Normally I am not impressed by the idea of visiting temple LOL but I like this temple, surrounded by greeneries and beautiful flowers! (Plus point: the sun is kind & the weather is wonderful) Such combination makes the entire place quaint and peace:)

Like this.

And this.
Clever tourists wears a long dress (& shirt with sleeve) when they visit religious place HAHA

I like the walkway like this :)

Thank you monk for this candid shot hahaha.

I am glad that we arrive this place early because the crowd is mushrooming when we are about to leave! It's almost impossible to take a photo like this when the crowd is everywhere = =

2nd stop: Tuyen Lam Lake

3rd stop: Elephant Fall

I am scared that my phone will drop into the water when I take photos here LOL.

It costs VND10000 for each of us to enter this waterfall area. We have to be super careful because it's wet & slippery and we are just walking beside the roaring waterfall lol.

There are handles but still be careful because they are really really slippery and some of them are rusty.

Making her to take a photo immediately after she hurt her hand so that she doesn't have time to cry LOL.

3rd stop: An unknown coffee shop + souvenir shop

Sorry I'm too short that I have to sit on the table LOL.

This place reminds me of Cameron Highland, but it's a coffee bean planting area! We also get to see cats that give birth to the civet coffee bean lol.

Beautiful & colourful clothes handmade by Vietnamese females!

4th stop: Dalat Railway Station

It's a French Indochina architecture and it's still functioning between Thap Cham and Da Lat nowadays (but only operates when there's enough passengers). It's apparently famous among tourists & locals that we see 2 couples having wedding photoshoot here!

It's easier to take photo like this at here than at Shifen, Taiwan LOL

One more also can haha.

Some antique trains are also displayed here!

Nice or not? haha

So romantic! The bride is soooooooo pretty with her bright red áo dài! A huge crowd are formed around this couple to take photos of them! It makes them so shy in front of the cameras haha! #likeacelebrity

5th stop: Recommended by our driver HAHA

We managed to visit all places that we wanted to before lunch mainly because we walk very fast #welltrainedtravellers(The driver is impressed by our speed and efficiency because he told us beforehand that it is impossible to visit all of these places within 5 hours as they are located at different areas) 

He kindly drops us at a Pho place that he recommended before he leaves! We are amused when my mum pays him some tips! (My mum is a client that's hard to please; only 1 success out of 100 attempts  lol)

Pho Bo (Beef Pho) is love! Price: 30000VND/bowl

I like the idea of eating Pho with lots of greens & really spicy chili!

When the elder brother isn't here, we can finally splurge on some beef hehe! We aren't a fan of carbs  but this Pho is so good and the beef is so tender & juicy!

6th stop:Crazy House

I'm quite excited to visit this place because I really want to see such interesting & colourful architectures! After some rest in the hostel, we have a walk to Crazy House (following the map) It costs 40000VND/person for the entrance tix and I think it worths the price!

It's actually a hotel but it opens for tourists to visit at day time. There are yet some constructions undergoing but the buildings here are really creative (somehow they remind me of Gaudi's in Barcelona!)! It becomes a lil scarier when we are on some of the buildings because the handles are quite low to reach & the floors are slippery due to the rain but we have a great time exploring this place. I can see how happy & satisfied my mum is to visit this place! ;)

*Photo spamming begins*

PRETTY NOT?! (Edit & W/o edit got different feels haha)

2 cowards acting happy here haha! They are so afraid to walk up the stairs hahahaha!

It's like a house from cartoon!

There are festive decorations too ( ↑ ↑ Halloween)

... and my blog needs a festive photo too HAHAHA I'm sorry!

7th stop: St. Nicholas Church

It starts drizzling when we leave Crazy House but we still decided to visit the St. Nicholas Church (Also known as Chicken Church haha)

A photo from the Chicken Church before the heavy downpour begins :(  They said this tower looks like Eiffel Tower (↑↑) LOL. We end up sheltering ourselves at the Chicken Church for about 45mins LOLOLOL because the rain is too heavy & the church is closed :(
8th stop: Random Coffee Shop

We decided to brave ourselves in the rain with our raincoats (2 for 3 people lol) and we hide ourselves in a random coffee shop near the night market to make ourselves warm.

Drinking coffee and binging snacks bought from L'angfarm haha!

9th stop: Dinner recommended by Foursquare hahaha

We give up when we see the rain has no sign of stopping sigh, so we call a taxi and head to a restaurant recommended by Foursquare for dinner! The rain ah totally mess up our plans = =

Highlight of the dinner: very expensive but very yummy artichoke soup! (and they said it's very good for health)

Visiting the night market again before going back to the hostel as it's our last night in Dalat! And we pass by this very cute store!

We also made ourselves to visit typical local stall like this before going back despite of  the fear of the hygiene of this place! (Stalls by the roadside with customers sitting on small plastic tools) 

We lost our way when we are walking back but luckily we meet some kind passerby and shopkeeper to show us the correct path! Feeling so grateful to meet some kind souls overseas! :)

Good night Dalat!

Day 3 HCMC

Rise & shine! Breakfast like this lightens our day before we leave for HCMC!

The Dalat Airport is very clean & neat!

We waste some time waiting for the delayed domestic flight SIEN why always delay whyyyyy. 

Once we touch down, I feel the heat wave is slapping my face lol. I immediately miss Dalat's weather so much because it's pretty hot & humid in HCMC :( It's worse when the air is polluted by huge traffics (mostly motorbikes)!

We took a shuttle bus from the airport to our hotel: Saigon Odyssey Hotel! It looks quite comfy & spacious but I won't recommend staying at this hotel because there's ALOT OF CLUBS AND PUBS  at the backpackers' street! It's really noisy that we can hardly sleep at 3am @@

We check in the hotel & we decided to fix our Indian food craving at Baba's Kitchen hehe. And.... it starts to rain when we wanna leave TT It's rainy season when we are there & it's humid every single day TT

I like this photo hehe.

We leave Baba's Kitchen when the rain finally stops and we take a 15mins walk to Notre Dame Cathedral. I love the warm red/orange tone of this Cathedral! So nice!:)
Gotta give Independent Palace a miss because it's too late for us to visit as it's closing at 4pm :(

And the famous Saigon Central Post Office is just next to this cathedral! It's still functioning as a normal post office but it's packed with tourists who're attracted by it's french architecture!

And there's a cute hawker selling donuts in front of the post office haha!

And this is how it's interior looks like! It's sooo packed with tourist that I can hardly take a proper photo inside:(

We spend the evening (before dinner) along the Đồng Khởi Street & Vincom Centre (to avoid the rain, again :/). My mum is interested in buying herself a beautiful traditional ao dai but she can't find one that she really likes & comes with an affordable price as this street is one of the tourist trap!

When we were planing for this trip, we said we MUST have a French dinner in HCMC because why say no to authentic French food when you can have them in a much cheaper rate?! And the foodie sister decided to visit ↑↑↑ after doing some research! It's a cosy restaurant open by a French and it's on the second floor of the shop lots (it's a boutique on the first floor). When we reach this place, there's already a big group of French having dinner (& wine) here! See... it must be serving nice French food right? HAHA! #authentic

And I like how cosy it is!:)

It's really hard to say no to these delicious & complimentary breads! hehe Their salad is nice too! ;) *sun-dried tomato is 100%*

 Confit Cassoulet *love*

We are all happy because we finally have a nice French dinner without having to empty our wallets after so long haha!

The  City Hall at night! So beautiful! ;) 
PS:Can you tell if I took this picture when it's drizzling? Hehe.

Strolling around the city centre before... it rains again = =

And then we spend the night on the bed with eyes opening wide until 3am because the pubs downstairs are having halloween parties LOLOLOL.

Day 4 HCMC

Good morning!

The picture doesn't do the justice of the traffic of HCMC. The amount of motorbikes we see on the road really scares me. If Jiajing wasn't here, I would be able to cross every single road only after 10 mins lol.

We miss Pho so much that we wanted to have it as breakfast! The foodie recommends us to visit the famous casual chain in HCMC: Phở Hòa Pasteur. We are all hungry when we are walking towards this shop! But in the end we reach the restaurant only after 45mins because.... I thought we just have to walk for 19 mins HAHA *cries* (Google maps shows that it takes 19mins car ride to reach here) Then everyone scolds me la hahaha. 

So many Pho & other Vietnames specialities!

And it's really packed in the morning! Apparently the locals like to have Pho as breakkie!

The breakfast situation.
A closer look of the Vietnamese spring roll.

And here comes the lead! Hahaha! It's so yummy! *love*

After the satisfying breakfast we walk around 10 mins to Nhà thờ Tân Định (Pink Church)! Not a fan of pink but it's really pretty! And the clouds are so fluffy like cotton candy! It's a Sunday so many locals come here for service.

A failed shot but I try my best already lol. I'm almost lying on the floor already but still.... *sobs* #我尽力了

We visit the War Remnant Museum nearby as well! It's a museum telling the annals of wars in Vietnam. Everything in this museum is so heartbreaking but the most vivid recollection of mine is an exhibition of the impact of Agent Orange chemical in Vietnam. The pictures of the victims (mostly children) are really heartbreaking... :(
The museum is closed at 12pm for lunch break so we head to District 5 to visit the China Town (Cholon). And it's our first time taking a public transport in HCMC haha! The bus comes quite timely & we pay for tickets on board. It's quite packed but there're a few locals kindly offer us their seats! :)

Look at the fruits! *love*

We visit the Bình Tây Market as well but we buy nothing because we know it's quite a tourist trap. And basically the wholesalers only attend to customers who are ready to bulk buying.

The China Town visit ends with another heavy downpour again LOL. Vietnam why you rain so much *sobs* We are forced to be back to District 1 but the rain shows no mercy towards us that we have to hide ourselves in one of the coffee franchises in town. Ok la, at least we get to try out Vietnamese coffee haha.

You can see hawker like this at almost everywhere in Vietnam!

After checking our from hotel, we walk along the Le Loi Street, which I really like as it has many interesting art & craft shops! Then we visit the newly open Takashimaya as well as the Bến Thành Market (to buy our favourite nuts haha!)

We are really hungry when it's dinner time (because we didn't have a proper lunch) & we are happy that we planned earlier to settle our last dinner in Vietnam in the Bến Thành Street Food Market as it offers a great variety of local & foreign food!

It's a spacious, hipster & open air food market!

Introducing you our favourite stall of all! Haha!
Ps: I wish I could go back to Vietnam again & visit the Sapa Valley! :)

Everything are so heavenly-tasty!

We make sure we are full-to-death before we leave this place haha! We then take a taxi to Luxury Apartment, an apartment near the airport so that I can wake up earlier to catch my super early flight back to Singapore (just for 1 stupid tutorial @#%^&*) Spend the night cramping all my favourite dried fruits & chips into my backpack that night HAHA, really feel like throwing my lecture notes so that I am put more food in my bag haha.

Day 5 SG sobs

Wake up & bid goodbye with the 2 sleepy souls at 5am to catch a flight which in the end.... is delayed again LOLOLOL. So tried but at least I get to travel before the horrible week 12 hahaha. #YOLO


PS 1. I thought we had 50000000VND instead of 5000000VND(what we have in reality lol) so I was trying hard to spend everything throughout the trip LOL. Only realised that we didn't have that much left on Day 4 but luckily I still managed to leave enough money for them to have breakfast on the last day *cries*

PS 2. I only know HCMC isn't the capital of Vietnam 2 months later. #可耻 *SorryMinnie

PS 3. Fortunately my desire to travel didn't reflect on my grades of I would have killed myself lol.

PS 4. Yes, I like Dalat a lot more than HCMC.

PS 5. This is the last post of my travel experience from last year, sorry HAHA.

Maira Gall