Thursday, February 2, 2012

2 Weeks Indochina, What a trip! -Part 1-

Planning on writing a blog about my trip to Indochina for some times, but stuck on the first line. Maybe it's because that was the least enjoyable trip I had so far. Don't get me wrong, #Indochina is quite okay, but there are some things that made me wary to go back there again.

Here we go. Sep 19, 2011, There were we, 3 girls looking for some adventure in Indochina, the destination are Vietnam and Cambodia, 2 of the famous countries in Indochina. The first pit stop was Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). Me and my 2 friend planned this trip since early 2011, we've booked all necessary things to support our trip. By the time we arrived in HCMC, the sky is already dark so we arranged a pick up from hotel. It cost us 15USD from HCMC International Airport to our hotel in Pham Ngu Lao Street (PNL). PNL street is quite similar with Jakarta's Jalan Jaksa, it's the backpackers district in HCMC. There were so many tourist from all over the world stays in this area. We stayed in Nguyen Khang Hotel (1*) for 2nights. We spent our first night strolling around the district and look around for a nice “view”.
Day 2, Sep 20, 2011. We had a 1 day tour to Delta Mekong using package from Sinh Tourist. With only USD10/Person we can enjoy 1 day trip to Delta Mekong (include lunch w/o drink though). At 0730 one of staff from Sinh Tourist pick us at our hotel, and stop by at their office for a while before we start the “real journey”. We were using a medium size coach, filled with approx 20 ppl. Most of the tour participant were blondes and I remembered that there was a Phinoy couple joined this group, and we loved them! After more than an hour land tour, we took a medium boat to several area in Delta Mekong, hop on to a small rowing boat, try some honey tea, coconut candy, tropical fruit, etc. Some of us also got the chance on riding bicycles around the island. The funny thing about this trip to Delta Mekong is that made me think “I HAD THIS IN MY COUNTRY!!” so it’s kind of made me a little upset. The tour ends around 1730, they drop us at their office in PNL street, so we can go back to hotel on foot. 
Local girl rowing a boat at Delta Mekong

This will be our last night at HCMC, so we want to make the best of it! After asking direction from one of the hotel staff, we start our hunt to BenTanh Night Market!  It’s located nearby our hotel, so we can reach there on foot (approx 20mins). On the way to market, we saw Pho 2000’s outlet, and agreed to try some of Vietnamese’s Pho. The Pho itself not tasty (for me), I love Mie Ayam Bangka even more, but at least we’ve tasted the “real Pho”. The so called “Night Market” is actually street which filled with tent that sell many things, such as souvenirs, T shirts, etc. Rain starts to fall while we were struggling to get cheap rate from the sellers, yet we kept on continued shop till drop! I bought some T Shirts and souvenirs while my friends bought many more. Thank God, the rain stopped, so we can go back to hotel on foot.

Pre-wed photo session
Pre-wed photo session
D03, Sep 21, 2011. We planned to take an overnight bus to Siem Reap this night, so we checked out from hotel early today and put our luggage in their concierge while we’re having a city tour. It actually was a sunny morning, after had a simple breakfast (French bread, egg and juice) we start our city tour by walking to HCMC Museum (located not far from PNL street). Sadly, by the time we got to the Museum, heavy rain starts to pour down! September can be categorized as bad time to visit Indochine, since it’s the rainy season. We spend quite some time strolling around the museum, we even met few couple who held a Pre Wedding Photo here! After more than an hour, the rain didn’t stop. We decided to crashing in to the rain, but bought a raincoat earlier J Our next destination is the Opera House, Notredame Cathedral then Independence Museum.

Notredame Cathedral
Independence Museum
We got no trouble on finding the Opera House (which actually only a building, with no special shape). Chill because of the rain, we stop by at KFC to grab some lunch, and this is when the chaos start. After lunch, we kind of lost track and spent our time wandering around the same street! *crap* Good thing is that we found a Tourist Information Center and ask for direction. They gave us direction and a huge map of HCMC so we can reach Notredame Cathedral and Independence Museum without any problem. Unfortunately by the time we got to the Independence Museum, it was  already closed! So, we only got to take some photo from outside. Enough with photos, we try to find our way to a theatre which plays the infamous Vietnamese Water Puppet. It’s located behind the museum. Have is said how horrible the traffic in HCMC? It was HORRIBLE!! I even yelled at a bike rider because they took the pedestrian path I used!! At that time I thank God that Jakarta is better (only a bit though).

Okay, enough for the crappy thing. So, we made it to the theatre on time for 06PM show, and I fell asleep during the show! It’s either because I was so exhausted because of struggling with the rain for the past 4hrs or is it because the show is not so interesting, OR maybe the combination of both (LOL). The show last for about 1 hour (I guess), and it was in Vietnamese, so don’t ask me about the story. Some scene was quite funny actually, but since I don’t know what they’re talking about so it’s a bit “lame” for my taste, so much for 6dollars! After the show a friend of mine planned a meet up with one of her colleagues in HCMC. Her friend told us to come and meet her at one of HCMC’s cozy restaurant called “Ngon” which happens located nearby the theatre. Funny name is it? Well, “Ngon” is actually stands for “delicious” in Vietnamese. The restaurant itself is quite cozy, with 2 area (inside the house and at garden), we chose table at the garden. The food is quite “Ngon” for me, and the price seems reasonable. We spent few hours eat-chit-chatting at the restaurant and decided to go back to our hotel prepare for the onboard trip to Siem Reap.

We still have few hours before the bus take off, so we asked permission to took a bath at the hotel, and surprisingly they allowed us! They also allowed us to wait until the bus picked us on midnight. At 2330 one staff from the bus company picked us up, and took us to their office. We met with several other tourists who also planning on taking this night bus to Siem Reap. The staffs asked for our passport + 25USD for Cambodian Visa, we also have to filled one form for Visa Registration process. Pass midnight, and the bus finally took off, see you again in the next few days HCMC and Cambodia, here we come!

Next part will be our journey in Cambodia, the journey which has many memorable moments. We've got a good news and bad news. The good news was we as per SEP 22, 2011, Indonesian passport holder is no longer need Visa to enter Cambodia. Unfortunately the bad news was we already gave our USD25 to the bus company! Did we got our money back? Want to know more? Please do wait for the next part :)