Saturday, November 14, 2015

Ho Chi Minh, 10 to 14 November 2015

Our second trip to Vietnam was to Ho Chi Minh city, formerly known as Saigon, located in Southern Vietnam. The city played a pivotal role in the Vietnam War (1954 to 1973) between the Communist North, Viet Cong, and the South Vietnam regime with its American ally.

Therefore, other than the French colonial legacy, history and its attractions is unfortunately tied to the Vietnam War. The War Remnants Museum, the Reunification Palace and Cu Chi Tunnels depict the Vietnam War from the North Vietnam's perspective about the untold deaths and destruction from the war, bombings and the effects of Agent Orange. It can be sobering and at times very sad reading and learning about how the Vietnamese people survived the war.

This trip was through AirAsiaGo with 4 nights hotel stay at Ruby River Hotel for a total price of RM1,309.26 for two pax. The hotel is just a 10 mins walking distance to Ben Thanh Market and further on to the other places of interests. The hotel is relatively new, well maintained and most importantly, clean rooms, bed sheets and towels.

Day 1, 10 November 2015

Ben Thanh Market
It is a big bazaar selling all the usual touristy stuff like clothing, knock off apparels, bag and shoes, tit bits, electronics, etc. Perhaps, it was the time of day, it was hot and stuffy and you are constantly asked to buy things.

A break with their locally brewed iced coffee
This is the famous 'Banh Mi', a baguette sandwich with pork slices, pate and vegetables. This stall is even listed in Trip Advisor 
BitExco Financial Tower

Day 2, 11 November 2015

War Remnants Museum

We reached the museum early in the morning by taxi before the crowds arrived by the bus loads. As such, we managed to snap some photos with the US military exhibits at our leisure.

The Huey helicopter, the work horse of the US army. You see it in many Vietnam war movies.
The amount of bombs dropped in the Vietnam war was many times greater than WW2.

The exhibit on Agent Orange. The lethal chemical was used to defoliate the jungles and poison the land and water.
Independence Palace
Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica

Central Post Office. It was designed by Gustav Eiffel, the same person who built the Eiffel Tower.

The elaborate ceiling within
Day 3, 12 November 2015

The journey to Mekong River delta took slightly more than an hour by bus. The tour includes a short cruise on the Mekong river then several transfers to smaller boats along river canals with dense palm trees, bee farms and coconut plantations. The day tour cost 280,000 (RM56) pp inclusive of lunch.

The Mekong river is the 12th longest river in the world. It flows across 6 countries ending in Mekong river delta.

One of the narrow canals

Honey mixed with lime and bee pollen concoction

Packaging coconut candy

Day 4, 13 November 2015

It is a half day tour to Cu Chi Tunnels, a 1 hr 50 mins journey by bus inclusive of entrance fee and English speaking guide for 250,000 dong pp (RM50). 
The walk way and entrance to the site

The tour starts off with a short video presentation from the Viet Cong's side of the story

Now you see it

Now you don't
An abandoned American tank at the actual war site

Sandals worn by the guerilla fighters. Noticed the front and back of the sandals is of the same size so as to confuse the direction of the footprints.

Entrance to a tunnel opened to tourists. Not for the claustrophobic


Street vendors
She's here early in the morning till late at night

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Hotel Pullman Phuket Arcadia, Naithon Beach, 24 to 28 September 2015

For our second sojourn overseas and due to the weak Ringgit, we decided to have a 4 night holiday across the border to Phuket, staying at the 5 star Pullman Phuket Arcadia, Naithon Beach. The hotel is located about 10 minutes drive by car from the airport and about an hour away from the popular and well known Patong Beach. Alicia, at the last minute decided to join us for three nights leaving one day earlier.

Perched on a headland overlooking the clear blue Andaman sea, the hotel is nestled in a protected national park among the flora and fauna. The rooms and villas are spread out on a steep slope. Getting around on foot may be a challenge for the elderly but the hotel do provide buggy service upon request. It rained continuously for nearly three nights as a typhoon was blowing across the region. It was a good reason for us to laze around in bed enjoying the comforts of the room.

Service was efficient and friendly typical of Thais. Buffet breakfast was sumptuous and the spread extensive with smoke salmon and pork bacon.

First night accommodation was a let down with the view of the sea front from our balcony blocked by trees and villas lower down. We requested for another room (room #8304) and luckily for us, it was a vast improvement from the previous room and it certainly made our stay much more enjoyable and comfortable.

The buggy is actually a hatchback with the car doors removed
The main infinity pool

Naithon beach. The waves are big though

The deluxe ocean view room 

Expansive bathroom. Luv the fragrant soap!

The entrance leading to the main lobby

Breakfast is a feast each morning! lol

There are great reastaurants just down the road from the hotel. There's regular complimentary bus shuttles to the beach

Where else but Patong beach. Pubs, Go Go clubs, sourvenir shops, health spas and much more