Ho Chi Minh City was the starting point of my Southeast Asia backpacking adventure after quitting my job and leaving the Philippines. The reason for this is because I was able to score a promotional deal and book cheap flights to Vietnam. I was still a corporate employee then.
An Afternoon in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
February 7, 2013
streets in Saigon
Trivia: Saigon is the old name of Ho Chi Minh City.
This was my first time to fly out of the country alone. I got scared at the beginning because I was used to having a companion that made things easier especially at the immigration counter. I made it afterwards and was glad to have safely landed at the Ho Chi Minh City International Airport.
I met up with Jana and went straight to the hostel we booked earlier. It was about 2am and we needed sleep.
We woke up and it was already afternoon. Guided with a map that we asked from the hostel owner, we went straight for a quick walking tour of the city. After reading a couple of blogs, one of the things I wanted to do was get some coffee and eat PHO noodles.
Drinking Coffee… from a Cafe
From our hostel, we asked for directions from bystanders and asked for tips on where to get coffee. The local pointed us to a nearby cafe and we ordered a latte and a frappe. After getting our orders, I realized that this was not what I expected. I was thinking of having authentic coffee on the sidewalks and not on the streets. To think that we’re both NOT coffee drinkers. hehe. Oh well, we finished our orders and continued our walk.
At least the design was nice 🙂
Eating PHO Noodles
After learning from our first blooper, we went to a famous PHO shop which was just within walking distance. Our hostel is located near the CRAZY BUFFALO signature, which is also in the backpacker’s area. It’s great cause everything is just within reach.
PHO is pronounced as “FUR” (don’t ask me why). We ordered just one soup for sharing. This is one of the dishes that Vietnam is famous for. They will prepare the main ingredients for you and you can simply some vegetables or chili according to your preference.
photo of noodles
It tasted really good and I was sweating because I put more than the usual chili.
Visiting the War Remnants Museum
One of the places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City that was recommended to us by the hostel owner was the War Remnants Museum. Only a short distance from where we were, we headed to the museum just to check out what’s there.
The museum houses different war antique items such as guns, armour, amunition. There’s also a gallery of photos (disturbing but that’s reality) of people affected by the war.
Seeing people with no limbs, deformed bodies was really tragic. Most were born that way because of their parents were contaminated with chemicals and resulted to permanent disabilities to their offspring.
The visit to the Ho Chi Minh City war museum was very educational. I only know of wars and battles happening in the past, but I didn’t really understand grave it was until I saw these photos.
Sometimes you need these enlightening moments to remind you the story of our yesterday and how devastating the effects of war can be. Seeing the photos again was a bit intense.I’ll write a longer blog post about this one day.
We left the war museum to take a breather.
Dropping by the Notre Dame Church and Post Office
Our next stop was the Notre Dame Church and the Post Office. These were the common tourist areas that I’ve seen in blogs and this is just in the city so naturally, we dropped by and took some quick photos. We wanted to go inside the church but it was closed at the moment. The interior of the post office was very grand. But we didn’t do much except to check some souvenir items.
Outside the Notre Dame Church, we bought a light snack composed of quail egg, shrimps, onion leaves and some other stuff I don’t remember placed in a flour wrapper. Sweet and chili sauced was added inside and a torn school graphing paper was used to hold the snack.
afternoon snack in Saigon
Riding a Tricycle
These tricycle drivers target tourists and offer their services of an open ride in the city. I don’t recall how much they charged, but I remember bargaining for a lower fee since we simply wanted to be taken to our hostel.
in HCMC, Vietnam
Noticed a lot of motorcycles in the city! So many that it’s crazy! Motorbikes are on the streets and even on the sidewalks of schools (where children are going home). Somehow these bikes will stop in unison if you cross the street. Still, it’s your risk if you want to take down a line-up just to get to the other side of the street.
I thought the Philippine’s Dumaguete City has a lot of motorcycles until I saw this.
Eating Dinner on a Sidewalk
The last part was grabbing dinner on the street sidewalk. Chicken or pork chop and some tomato slices on top of rice, it was another quick dinner as we were to prepare for our next trip. The whole day was used and the remaining time was spent by packing our things as we were going to travel to Mui Ne, Vietnam.
It was nice that the owner of the hostel let us leave our big bags there without an extra charge. We were to go back to Ho Chi Minh in two days and we only packed necessary items.
While we were in Ho Chi Minh City, we did not really plan our itinerary. We only asked for a few tips from the hostel owner and read a few blog posts from other bloggers. However, it was nice to have done so many things despite the limited time. You can actually visit these places in an afternoon.
Want to know more about this city? Here’s a guide: Ho Chi Minh City Travel Guide