It was a one fine beautiful day in Ho Chi Minh City. This was my first time to travel solo away from the Philippines. Yet solo travelling is a good friend of mine, international flights made me frightened like we are foes.
My HCMC adventure starts here,
I was welcomed by Ho Chi Minh City by drunken taxi drivers (what a great way). I arrived at Vietnam at around 1AM and expected that my hostel will pick me up from the airport as this was pre-arranged. But no one came in 😦
As I was really tired and what to lay in my bed (half day in office, traffic in Manila, immigration interview, long hours before boarding), I opted to ride an airport taxi. Instantly, I saw Ho Chi Minh City by early in the morning. My taxi driver can’t speak English but the ride went smooth. Good job, Kuya Manong Driver! Naloka lang ako sa pag-compute ng pamasahe. Feeling ko kasi milyonarya na ko. HAHA. At ayaw ko siyang bayaran ng thousands eh if I will convert it to pesos, mga Php 150 lang pala yun. LOLS.
Upon my arrival at the hostel, I expected to see my room that I booked from Booking.com. Yes! the feeling of vacation! Wippee! But something is very unusual, the hostel is closed.
I rang the door bell many times until the hostel owner opened it. I introduced myself and reminded the owner that I have a reservation and hostel pick up. Violaaaaaaa! The owner forgot my reservation. They taught that I will arrive by the next day. 😦 My email was clear; my message was comprehensible as I know Vietnamese are not so good yet in English. As I just want to rest, I accepted their offer to sleep in their dormitory room. This room is the United Nations room where different races sleep in one big room with one shared bathroom. Ok, then I can do that. Apparently, the only bed left is the one beside their air conditioner unit. Waaahh! Literally, I was Elsa that night! Frozen. HAHA.
By 7AM, I woke up to get ready. I asked my hostel owner to book me a tour in Cu Chi Tunnel. For less than 4 hours of sleep, yes I can do it! To read my Cu Chi story, please click here – Cu Chi Tunnels – Memories of Terror
We returned at the city by 2PM. As I want to make the most of my time in HCMC, I headed to some of its historical place.
After Cu Chi tour, I decided to continue my day in Ho Chi Minh. I asked our tour guide to drop me at the War Museum. After a stressful, heartbreaking tour in Cu Chi, I will torture myself at the War Museum.
I felt that I can’t bear any traumatic stories of war, so I decided to cut the trip. I appreciated all the photos, videos and narratives of war. Yet, my mind says, “Why we can’t live in peace?” I am so proud that Vietnam moved on from that dark period (ako kaya kalian makaka-move on? HAHA. Masingit ko lang). Vietnam proved the world that they can stand..tall. Philippines might have the same stories when we are occupied by Spain, America and Japan. This is the reason why I can’t engage anymore with the visuals that I saw at the War Museum. No one will benefit from any hostilities, so can we just love each other?
The Reunification Palace
From the blogs I read, this place depicts memories of war and history of Vietnam so I just stayed outside. HAHA. Tama na yung nakaka-stress na sites. Happy naman. 🙂 Then, I witnessed this different kind of happiness while seating outside the Palace. It was good memories of how Vietnamese rides their motorcycles, on how was their everyday life.
It was awesome to watch how each pedestrian crosses a sea of motorcycles and helmets. I guessed this is the true history of Vietnam – the things you can see outside, the stuff you can experience.
Notre Dame Church
Not too far from the Independent Palace is the Notre Dame Church. For a Catholic like me, it was a joy to see a church. Vietnam is influenced by European architecture specifically the styles of French; this is why this Church is famous in Ho Chi Minh City
What a great way to thank the Man up there for keeping me safe.
The Post Office
Across the Notre Dame Church is the Post Office. It is another magnificent French-styled structure with its beautiful façade and interiors. It is said that it was built by the same man who made the Eiffel Tower of Paris. Kahit sa konting saglit, naramdaman ko ang Paris! Wohooo!
You will be welcomed by President Ho Chi Minh’s portrait. It is not just a post office, locals also come here for cargo or money transfers. For travelers, it is a place of great photos and souvenir shopping. What stroke me the most are its gorgeous ceiling and antique-looking clocks. Now, I can say that I am fan of this post office. Ang ganda eeeh!!!!
The Opera House
After staying in European-theme places, I walked the road down to the Opera House. My hostel provided a map to easily navigate the city. I was actually opting to ride a taxi yet HCMC is a place for your flip flops. I enjoyed crossing the streets and just walking that no one knows who I am (travel blues). After circling and asking myself where am really I, I reached the Opera House after a 30 minute walk.
Opera House proves French influence. The façade is immaculately perfect. It was just like the one I saw from a travel TV show. As I can’t enter the building (an event was happening that time), I just stayed outside and mesmerized myself in this structure. How on Earth there is a perfect Opera House in an Asian city?
Going back to our hostel, I paid for a cab as I can’t barely walk anymore and it’s getting late (Yes, late na sa akin yung 6PM, lola hits). I imagined myself laying on a perfect bed and relaxing! Upon arriving, the sister of the owner approached me instantly. She let me sit first and holds my hand (ok, what now?) She smiled yet terrified. And here it comes, she said that they forgot my reservation again and they offered my room to another traveler. Ok, Ate. WHAT REALLY????
As I want to calm myself and I saw that she felt terribly sorry, I accepted her apology. She asked if I can stay again in their dormitory (no choice). It was a beautiful day, why ruin it again? HAHA. I just demanded to sleep afar from the AC. Luckily, another traveler agreed to transfer to another bed.
Oh! Ho Chi Minh City! Ayun na lang nasabi ko.
It was a chaotic day yet as I always say “It is how you see things”. I should be thankful for everything that I have now. Great thanks to Pho and Banh Mi for keeping me alive in this day! After a day of great experiences, I got the best things in life, so why I think of the negatives? Just make things beautiful in your eyes!
After a day in HCMC, I asked my hostel to book me a bus ride to Siem Reap, Cambodia. They arranged everything for me this time..perfectly. 🙂 The owner and staff were really sorry for the inconvenience and informed me that I don’t need to pay for my stay in their hostel. Wohooooo! Ang saya sa dormitory! Wohhooo!!
See, everything is just beautiful!