Asia / My Travels / Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh: Facing Your Life Battles

“I have had my fill of pain I will not look back again I would rather die.”- Kim (Miss Saigon)

Saigon 2009

My Tho River | Vietnam 2009

It was in May 2009 when we went to Ho Chi Minh (or I still prefer to call it Saigon!) just over the weekend. It was just a spur of the moment when my flatmate, Matt, and I booked our flight one lazy afternoon, then we invited one of my girlfriends, RH, to join us so we won’t look like a couple haha!

I just broke up with my ex-boyfriend at that time and since I was just about to start a new job too in few days, we decided to have a quick getaway before I move on with my “NEW” life.

So there, the three of us went to HCM without any itinerary or plans in hand! It was very liberating for me then because I used to plan everything before I travel, but that time, I couldn’t care less about it, I just want to be spontaneous at least this once. And because of that, we spent our first day just getting lost in a tiny city of HCM! Haha!

Quite funny though, because we just didn’t seem to pay attention to details like their streets, we just walk based on our “unreliable instincts”, so we ended up walking around the city missing all the places we should have gone! Hahaha! It was also pointless to ask locals for directions because not all of them speak English, so there was a bit of lost in translation too! >.<

Asking a Vietnamese lady for directions.

Asking a Vietnamese lady for directions. | Photo by Matt

We only realised that we missed all the beautiful places when we took the cab going back to our hotel and saw all these places. So I suggest if you want to save time just take the City Tour because it only costs US$9/pax, saves you from all the hassles and disappointments. Oh, and make sure the War Remnants Museum is included in the itinerary!

We stayed at a guesthouse that is located to backpacker’s area at District 1 that are around the streets of Do Quang Dau and Bui Vien. We booked at the website of Phan Lan Hotel, and the rate for the room is only around US$15-20 only per night!

My friend RH with Matt at Phan Lan Guesthouse

My friend RH with Matt at Phan Lan Guesthouse

The good thing about this area is that Ben Thanh Market is just walking distance to do all your shopping.

HCM or formerly Saigon was used to be a city known for bicycles. But now, it has changed to scooters! It’s all over the place and quite scary coz it will just suddenly show up on your way! You have to be alert on both sides of the street. Learn the art of crossing the street!

Vietnamese countryside lady on a bicycle.

Vietnamese countryside lady on a bicycle.

Crazy scooter at the city!

Crazy scooters at the city!

On our second day, we’ve learned our lesson already. We booked our tour at our guesthouse since it’s just very affordable anyway. Good thing about booking it to your hotel is that you are safe you won’t get scammed. It’s the same rate anyway anywhere, around US$8-10/person only.

There were only two day trips to choose from – the Chi Tunnel – Caodai Temple Tour and My Tho – Ben Tre Tour. We opted for the latter coz we wanted to experience the countryside of Vietnam that we normally see on Vietnam War movies: rice paddies, floating market, boat rides, bicycles around the village, etc!

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My Tho / Ben Tre

And what makes it more authentic? It rained!!! Woohoo!!! (just like in the movies!)

And since our tour guide doesn’t seem to care or just so used to the rain, we were all soaked and wet! I enjoyed the mud and I imagined some soldiers are just camouflaged at the rice paddies and that they will come out anytime and abduct me!

Forgive me for imagining that, I know WAR is not supposed to be fun nor funny at all. I just want to add some thrill in my imagination when it was raining and as we trek through mud instead of getting pissed about the whole experience.

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This is not so bad mud photo though…

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I went to the Cu Chi Tunnel – Caodai Temple Tour when I returned few months after.
To see more about that trip, click HERE.

 

Even it was just a quick getaway, the whole experience was worth it. Travel always makes me feel good and new anyway. But this trip is somehow special in a way that it was my turning point at that time to begin a new life and a new me.

Saigon may have fallen and failed, but life went on for them, and life still goes on for them. I have fought several wars in my life too. But still, I came back stronger. And the best I could do is just forget all the fill of pain and do not look back.

I still make mistakes and I still fail until now. But there’s only one thing I am certain of, I may have flaws but I am joyous. I understand the past, living in the moment, and fearless to face more life battles of the future.

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A very beautiful smile from a very beautiful Vietnamese lady.

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