Thursday, July 5, 2012

2 Weeks Indochina, What a trip! -Part 3-

Wow, third part! Okay, I did told you that this day is a horrible one? Well, there’s a story to complete it. Since we bought bus ticket from an agent, so they gave us transfer to the bus stop. But the crazy thing is, the tuk2 driver doesn't have any idea where’s the bus stop location is! So he took us (me, my friend and 2 other tourist) wander around the city searching for the freakin’ bus stop! Feeling a bis desperate because we have passed the bus departure time, all of us can only pray and leave it to the driver. But thank GOD, we finally got to the bus stop and succeed cathcing the bus to HCMC. Made it to the bus, now it’s time to sleep! Yes, I spend most of the time sleeping in the bus because I knew that we’re gonna facing something big tonight, so I need my energy.

We reached HCMC at 1900-ish, the good thing is that the bus stop is located nearby our former guesthouse, which means only few feet away from our HCMC-SR bus company! Aware that we might need an english speaker Vietnamese, we walk to our former guesthouse and ask for help to the receptionist. She was shocked when we told the story and agreed to help us. After few phonecall, she told us that we can go and ask for our money at 2300 when the driver came to the office, which means another 3.5hrs! So, we decided to get some dinner around the corner and look for wifi so we can contact our family back in Indonesia. Around 2230 we walk to the bus company, yet unfortunately the driver hadn’t arrive yet. So we wait there and try to calm ourselves. After waiting for a while, the driver finally arrived, and somehow by the he talked, I sensed that he didn’t trust us. He kept on saying “there’s only 2 of you, why are you asking us to return for 3 people?”. My friend so pissed, she talked back to the driver with high tone, and by the way she looked, I knew she’s really angry with the driver. It’s already past midnight, I really tired but it seems there’s no good end in this “gimme back my money” drama. So, I decided to take over and talked to the driver, and not so long after my explanation, he gave us our money back… YEAAAYY!! Not long after that, we’re on our way to the Airport. It’s passed midnight, the airport is closed, so the only place we can rest was the chair in front of the terminal. We manage to sleep for 3-4hrs that night, and continue it during the flight to Hanoi.

D08, Sep 26, 2011. Hanoi! Yeaay! The capital city of Vietnam! One of the staff from our hotel in Hanoi picked us at the airport. After arrived at hotel, we try to get some rest, payback for yesterday’s activity. We managed to stroll put around the old city (which is soooo freakin’ crowded with “crazy” motorcycle) and grab lunch in one of recommended restaurant in Hanoi. Although coming from a crowded city like Jakarta, I still felt desperate when walking around Hanoi’s Old city. Those small road (no pedestrian path available!) filled with angry car/motorcycle driver who kept on “honking”! Grrrraaaoo~~. On our way to central market we stop by at a travel agent and ask for a half day tour for tomorrow. She offered us several types of tour, and we choose the cheapest one (LOL), that is 15-ishUSD for Half Day city tour include lunch. We spent that afternoon wandering at the central market (not) shopping. It was raining whole afternoon, so I can’t say that I enjoyed the stroll much L . A friend of my friend (Duc) who happened to be a Vietnamese came by to our hotel and took us to try some of Hanoi’s Pho which suprisingly taste a lot better than the we had in HCMC. Unfortunately it wasn’t a huge franchise like Pho 24, so the shop remains unnamed.

D09, Sep 27, 2011. Hanoi day 2! As scheduled, a guide from travel agent picked us at hotel at 08AM for half day tour included One Pillar Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Temple of Literature, Hoan Kim temple / Lake and a souvenir store. Aside me and my friend there’s also 2 additional participant, they are a married couple from New Zealand, I don’t recall the husband name, but if I’m not mistaken the wife’s name is Gina. Same like yesterday, rain was pouring during our tour so we (well, only me) were soaking wet! During sightseeing, the guide seems not trying to explain us about the TAs, moreover his English was horrible (if I may say) so you can say that join this tour was such a waste of money L. When we’re at the souvenir store he (the guide) asked if we wan’t to extend the tour and join the NZ couple visit Museum of Ethnology by pay additional 5USD? Since we’re expecting one of our friend who came from Singapore so we turned off his offer and that made him a bit pissed. At 1200-ish, the guide took us for lunch, and the funny thing was it’s the same restaurant where we have lunch yesterday! Oh well, 2 times in a row (LOL). After lunch he took us to Hoan Kim Lake to visit the temple, for me and my friend this is our last visit for the day, so they drop us at hotel. As expected, our friend has arrived and waiting for us at hotel. Confused on where to go this afternoon, so we decided to visit Museum of Ethnology on our own, by taxi of course! We spent our whole afternoon there. Around 1730, we go back to hotel, Duc contact us and she’s planning on spending the night with us and sleepover at our hotel. We meet at Lotteria (on of Vietnam fast food restaurant) which located at old city. She took us for a night stroll around the city, and we’re having a delicious mixed fruit nearby the hotel afterward.

D10, Sep 28, 2011. Halong Bay here we come! Picked up at hotel around 07AM, we put our unnecessary luggage at concierge and bring 1 day pack that fits our needs for 2d/1n trip. We reserved this tour package through our hotel, and choose overnight onboard package which cost us USD70/pax for deluxe room. After picked us up, the travel stop by at 2 other hotels to picked up other participant. Beside 3 of us, there were 3 other groups joined this trip, they’re from UK, South Korea and Hong Kong. It took about 2hrs ride from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay port, sadly there’s nothing special to see on the road. By the time we arrived at the port, the guide took us to a Junkboat where we will spend the night. Along with us, there were South Korea group and Hong Kong group, but somehow the UK group took another boat, apparently they’ll spend their night in island i/o boat. Once we get in the boat the guide gave us room key, we go straight checking our room and it’s actually quite nice! Since there’s no electricity during the day, so we decided to go upstairs and mingled with other participant.

The first day schedule are visit the local village, one of limestone cave (this is quite good actually) and enjoy kayaking. One activity that I enjoy the most is kayaking, it was hilarously fun! All the activity for this day ends at 1600-ish, so we still got time to clean up before dinner and have some rest in our room. There were no specific activities after dinner, and it’s kinda boring for me. So, when I ask to the guide what can we do to pass the time, she said there’s actually a karaoke machine that we can use. So, no further a do, we ask all the tour participant to join us and sing till drop. The karaoke event ends at 2200, and we go back to our room and have some rest.

D11, Sep 29, 2011. It felt great to woke up in the middle of no where (LOL). There’s no specific activity for this day. Most of spend our morning just wandering around at the boat, see the view and some of us choose to swim at the ocean. When we’re having breakfast, we were informed to pack up our thing and check out from the room at 1100 the lattest. So we go back to our room, packed up and prepare to go back to Hanoi. After all packed up, we put our luggages upstairs (in the dining room) and spend the rest of time at the above dock, just enjoying the view. We arrived at the port at lunch time, and we had our lunch at restaurant nearby first before going back to Hanoi. While having lunch, our guide told us how lucky we are, because as per this night the storm is coming, so they gave to cancell all the Ha Long Bay tour for few days ahead. Wow! After a short and (not so) delicious lunch, we go back to our hotel at Hanoi. Although we felt tired, but since this would be our last night at Hanoi, so we want to spend it to the max.

Duc came by and took us for a night stroll. Our first stop is typical vietnamese restaurant (located in pedestrian path) to try their so called steak, it taste quite nice. After a short dinner, she took us to The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum to watch flag ceremony (which done daily at 2100). Then she took us to one of famous coffee shop in Hanoi, La Place which located nearby Hanoi’s Cathedral. It was quite exhausted, yet we had a lot of fun! After saying goodbye with Duc, we start to pack our things, and ready to go home tomorrow!

D12, Sep 30, 2011. Wow! Last day in Hanoi! Time does fly when you enjoy it right? This would be our 12th days on the road, although it’s kinda sad to end this trip but I’m a bit relieved to know that I’m going home J Since we’ll be facing a looong day ahead going back home to Jakarta, so we better prepare our energy by sleep our heart out at hotel the whole morning! Well, one of my friend (Dewa) decided she’s going to HCMC instead going back to Singapore today, so she took morning flight to HCMC while me and my other friend (Dian) wait for our flight back (via Singapore) tonight. Both of us have no idea on what we’re going to to spend the day, the only choice is visit the Mall (I forgot the name tho’). So right after check out from hotel and put our baggage at concierge, we go straight to the Mall. Since I’m not a Mall lover type of person, so killing time at the Mall is not a good option! I felt bored after 30minutes wandering around the Mall. Enough with Mall, we go back to hotel and wait for the taxi which going to take us to airport. Hanoi's airport is similar with Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport, big but not comfortable. Bad news is that we're facing 1 until 2 hour delay (thanks to Tiger Airways)! We finally board to the airplane around 1030AM, and i slept throughout the flight! 

D13, Oct 01, 2011. Last day! We arrived at Changi around 0230AM, and manage to take shuttle bus from budget terminal to Terminal 1. Dian's is planning to visit her friend in Singapore, we're saying goodbye as she's headed to Terminal 2 and i stayed at Terminal 1. Since i still got plenty of time until my flight to Jakarta, I try to sleep at the airport. I woke up at 0730AM, and people start coming to the Airport. I bought breakfast, put my baggage at Airport Locker, and head to Mustafa Center to buy Chocolate! Yes, Chocolate! I manage to get the chocolate, stroll around the Serangoon Road and back to Airport in less than 3hours! See how small Singapore is? HAHA... Since i still got time before boarding, i walk around Changi and met several Indonesian group that look busy with their shopping items. Well, wealthy Indonesians do love shopping in Singapore huh? My flight to Jakarta depart on schedule, and as usual i slept throughout the flight! I arrived safely at Soekarno Hatta International Airport at 1330-ish. And this would be the end of my 2 weeks #Indochine trip! My very fist long trip! I was fun and exhausting journey indeed :)