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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Travel to Vietnam Part II

16 June 2008

As our plane was moving further up, we could see more houses and buildings replacing the green paddy fields. This was a sign that we were approaching Ho Chi Minh City, which was used to be called Saigon.

Ho Chi Minh City was indeed a large city. Until the horizon, I could still see buildings. This was far bigger than KL.

From Vietnam Trip - Ho Chi Minh City
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Aerial view of Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam - formerly known as Saigon.


From Vietnam Trip - Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City, the biggest city in Viet Nam.


From Vietnam Trip - Ho Chi Minh City

A river flowing through the city of Ho Chi Minh, Viet Nam


From Vietnam Trip - Ho Chi Minh City

A view at Ho Chi Minh City suburb, Viet Nam.


From Vietnam Trip - Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh, Viet Nam - a densely-populated city.


When I first reached the Ho Chi Minh City international airport, I was impressed with current development of Vietnam. The people have awaken from the destruction of war. The terminal building here was also impressive, with one glance, it resembled KLIA. The wall was made of glass and it's leaning outside from floor to roof. This gave the impression that the hall inside the building was bigger than its actual size. Although there were quite a number of passengers and visitors, the customs and immigration processes were efficient. There were a lot of counters opened.

From Vietnam Trip - Ho Chi Minh City
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New terminal building at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.


From Vietnam Trip - Ho Chi Minh City

We arrived at 10.24AM.


From Vietnam Trip - Ho Chi Minh City

Carousal area at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.


Actually, Ho Chi Minh City was not our final destination. We would continue our journey to Da Nang, one of the historical and beautiful city in Vietnam. Here was one of the battle fields during Vietnam war and also the centre of ancient Champa kingdom.

We still had four hours before our next flight. So we had ample time to go round the city. As planned much earlier, we wanted to go to Ben Thanh market and for that, we chartered a van for our round trip.

When we first got out from terminal building, I was shocked to see a lot of people waiting outside. Not sure whether they were waiting for somebody or were looking for money by offering some services to tourists.

While on the road, I felt quite awkward because vehicles here was left-hand drive. I still needed to adjust myself even though I was not driving as this was actually my first time being in a country with left-hand drive. Vietnam was once colonised by American while Malaysia was colonised by British. So, that's why both countries now have different legacies. After researching from Internet, now I realised that only a handful of countries in this world are right-hand drive. The majority are left-hand drive. Almost all Commonwealth countries and few others like in South East Asia such as Indonesia and Thailand are right-hand drive.

Another uniqueness about Vietnam was its millions of motorcycles on the road. Everywhere were motorcycles. They occupied almost the whole road. When Miss World competition was held here, it also featured motorcycle on the stage during award giving ceremony.

There are reasons why Vietnamese prefer motorcycle. All vehicles are sold only by cash. There is no installment even one wants to buy a car. Because the economy is just recovering and the standard of living is still not high enough, the people here can only afford to buy motorcycles. For those who can't even afford to buy motorcycles, they only had bicycles.

For those who could only own bicycles, it's not bad at all. The traffic here was very slow even when one person rode a bicycle, the speed was almost similar to those riding motorcycles. However, for those who were not familiar with traffic here, it could be dangerous. The traffic was quite chaotic and was without proper rules. There was one instance; our van started to move after a traffic light turned green but there was a pickup wanted to cross in front of us. So, everybody including motorcyclists gave way so that the pickup could get out. They're so tolerant here. I couldn't imagine if this could happen in KL. Despite all these, the rate of accident here was very low.

From Vietnam Trip - Ho Chi Minh City

Everybody rides motorcycle in Viet Nam.


From Vietnam Trip - Ho Chi Minh City

One lane is almost full with motorcycles.


From Vietnam Trip - Ho Chi Minh City

Part of millions of motorcycles on the roads in Viet Nam


From Vietnam Trip - Ho Chi Minh City

Motorcycles waiting at a traffic light in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam.


From Vietnam Trip - Ho Chi Minh City

Eventhough the traffic light in our direction is green, there is suddenly a pickup wants to cross in front of us. Amazing! This can only happen in Viet Nam


From Vietnam Trip - Ho Chi Minh City

I like this guy style. Really cool! I wish I could get his bag and helmet!


After half an hour going through quite a heavy yet smooth traffic, we reached Ben Thanh market. After we entered the market, hearing that we all spoke Malay, the shop owners there greeted us in Malay! I was amazed the fact that they could also speak Malay. I guessed either they had worked in Malaysia before or perhaps they were Malay Cham who were actually originated from Vietnam, although most of them are now living in Cambodia.

Here, a lot of local goods like handicrafts, clothes and local delicacies were sold. There were also unique and beautiful paintings made from hand-woven thread. I bought a bed sheet set with rose motive made from hand-woven thread too. It was beautiful.

The price here was cheap, provided you knew how to bargain. Shop owners here were very reluctant to let you off unless you bought something from their shops. However, it could work our way if we knew how to bargain. The trick was to ask for a ridiculously low price, then you could match exorbitant price sent initially by the shop owners. In the end, at least you got your desired and reasonable price.

I also saw a few Malaysian shopped there. Perhaps they're preparing for a wedding ceremony by looking at type of cloth they were buying.

Here, you can buy goods in US Dollar, in addition to Vietnamese currency, Dong. The minimum note you can trade is one Dollar. If there is smaller change, it will be in Dong equivalence.

After finishing shopping at Ben Thanh market, we headed back to the airport to catch our next flight to Da Nang.

..to be continued..

From Vietnam Trip - Ho Chi Minh City

One of the entrances at Ben Thanh market, Ho Chi Minh City.


From Vietnam Trip - Ho Chi Minh City

Hand-woven painting from thread are widely sold at Ben Thanh market, Ho Chi Minh City.


From Vietnam Trip - Ho Chi Minh City

The diagram of Ben Thanh market, Ho Chi Minh City. All types of goods sold here.


From Vietnam Trip - Ho Chi Minh City

Clothes section at Ben Thanh market, Ho Chi Minh City.


From Vietnam Trip - Ho Chi Minh City

Crafts section at Ben Thanh market, Ho Chi Minh City.
Posted by stROZze at 1:55 PM |  
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