Spell of Saigon

The trip to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam in December 2014 was to commemorate our 4th year marriage anniversary. It was impromptu. I did not think that Mr Husband would be serious to book the trip in less than 3 weeks but he did. Anything is possible with AirAsiaGo.Com. This time we didn’t manage to score a freebie but it was still a relatively cheap trip.

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Ho Chi Minh is a sea of people. A small world stuck in 10 years ago maybe more. I was drawn to its spell of simplicity. Its spell of trade. It interest me to see these people going through the same routine daily which probably have been going on since the times of their grandparents.They take pride in the history of the Vietnam War and claims most citizens would eat anything that moves including rats especially when they are in season hence the ‘Mouse BBQ’.

For this mini holiday, we stayed at Duna Hotel.

We booked day trips to the Mekong river and Co Chi tunnel through a tour agency. They were very kind to accommodate our special diet restrictions as Muslim tourist which is acknowledged as ‘tak boleh makan babi’. Ha ha.  We shopped for clothes and fabric at the Ben Thanh market and enjoyed simple Vietnamese meals at the Malaysian street. Most of the time it was a free and easy schedule. No rush, no lush.

Here are the pictures ;

A day trip to the Mekong river. Took the 'sampan', watched the coconut candy making sessions, drank fresh honey in tea sprinkled with what looked like pollen. On the way to the river, stopped at a beautiful temple.

A day trip to the Mekong river. Took the ‘sampan’, watched the coconut candy making sessions, drank fresh honey in tea sprinkled with what looked like pollen. On the way to the river, stopped at a beautiful temple.

Co Chi tunnel : Many displays of human torture machines. And guerilla tactics and weapons.

Co Chi tunnel : Many displays of human torture machines. And guerilla tactics and weapons.

Pho noodles, fried rice with soy sauce, tapioca, honey tea drink.. to name a few.

Pho noodles, fried rice with soy sauce, tapioca, honey tea drink.. to name a few.

Ho Chi Minh – a small city with an interesting story. I would go there again more prepared next time. How was your experience?

Ho Chi Minh : Duna Hotel

If you pay peanuts, you get peanuts.

(And people would still try to grab more of your peanuts)

Duna Hotel was rated on AirAsiaGo.Com website as a 3 star hotel. When we reached there, it was more like a 2 star hotel. I would not recommend this facility to family with small children. The type of people coming in and out of the hotel are just … suspicious. I almost mistook it as a secret brothel.

We arrived at the hotel by 3 pm and to our dismay our booking was not there. This is so against AirAsia’s secure booking policy. But the top management of the hotel insisted that we didn’t have a room booked with them and said that it was full. Mr Husband was obviously not happy but thankfully remained calm because ‘shit happens’

He tried calling the AirAsia centre using the number given but conveniently no one was there to answer the call.

After much delay, the receptionist suddenly recommended we pay for a room which was miraculously empty because the customer who was supposed to have that room canceled their booking. So we paid because they put a knife to our throats we were tired and at a foreign place.

Duna Hotel also operates a tour agency. It seems that we were not the only unfortunate ones with a horrible money-related experience here. A group of young European tourists were ‘ripped off their money’ when their supposed bus trip route was cancelled. Instead of discussing alternative routes with them, the agency took the liberty to book another route which made stops at places they did not want to go at a cost slightly more. Needs no guessing here that they were horrified. I mean who wouldn’t. One of the more vocal women in the group demanded a refund in exchange they will forget about the whole incident and say nothing more about it. But the hotel decided to play games. They were only going to give back a 50% refund despite the problem rooting from their side. After much bickering and soft threats from the group, the management finally gave in. I have to applaud the beautiful angry lady for she was damn serious when she said in her Russian accent, “If you don’t give us our money back, I will sit here all day and tell all the other tourist what you have done to us!!”

It worked.

After the short drama, we were finally ushered to our room. It was clean and the bed was comfortable. We had horrible next door neighbours though who can’t seem to shut the door properly. Bang sana, bang sini. Then there was the inevitable fireworks and noise after midnight from the public park across the street.

We reconciled our differences with Duna Hotel over free WIFI and breakfast. Although most of the spread was NON-Halal, we were still able to enjoy their simple fried rice with delicious soy sauce, the toast and scrambled eggs and lovely Trung Nguyen coffee. I can’t seem to replicate the same taste coffee at home. Another visit to Ho Chi Minh it seems – at another hotel.

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Honey Madu for dinner

Mr Husband is working extra hours today. This means dinner for one is 2 slices of honey buttered toast with a mug of hot cocoa. No fancy dishes – just toast.

In Vietnam, honey is served with tea.

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During one of our visits to the bee farm, we had tea mixed with a small dollop of honey and a sprinkle of pollen. Topped with a mini-squeeze of limau kasturi. It was a wow tasty drink. I had seconds. And a third. But I didn’t buy their produce because it was too expensive and most importantly – they were in liquid form. I did not pay for extra baggage for the Saigon trip. Liquids in hand luggage? Risky…

In Malaysia itself, I came to hear of Teh tarik with Madu in Johor. Now that is something worth a day trip for.