Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ho Chi Minh City 4D/3N Itinerary - Day 3&4 (Final)

Date of Travel: 25-28 Oct 2012

Day 3

Major trade takes place at the Cai Be floating market daily - but at 7am, not 9am
Today's itinerary is all about the Mekong River. The most famous tour company in HCM is the Sinh Tourist located on 246-248 De Tham Street ( They were the best in 2006, and they still are the best today. You can choose between 2 tours, one to My Tho & Ben Tre, and another to Cai Be & Vinh Long. Since I had already been to the former, we tried the latter this time around. Cai Be is known for the floating market and Vinh Long for its seafood restaurants. This tour costs approximately RM45 per person.

In short, it was not a good day for me. I swear I will never ever go on either Mekong tour again. We prebooked the tour from their website, showed them the receipt and got our tickets quite smoothly. Because Cai Be is located over 100km away from HCM, it took 2 hours to get there, i.e. 7am - 9am. By the time we got onto the motorboat, it was 9:30am and the floating "market" turned out to be just 15-20 boats selling pumpkin and garlic and pineapples. From what I read and saw on the Amazing Race before, there are supposed to be hundreds of boats! Disappointed!!
How do you know what each boat is selling? They tie the produce to a long bamboo pole

People actually live on the boat

Dogs too!

Ho Chi Minh City 4D/3N Itinerary - Day 2

Date of Travel: 25-28 October 2012
Day 2
- Half day Cyclo Tour around the city by Urban Adventures (US$19/pax)
- Stop by Christina Noble Children's Foundation to drop off presents
- Motorbike Tour at night by XO Tours (US$35/pax)

Our guide arrived bright and early at 7:45am whilst we were having breakfast at the lobby. When we were ready, she made a phone call and suddenly 9 cyclo riders appeared in front of the hotel. We all got on and off we went to the War Remnants Museum, and spent 1 hour here. This was my first time visiting the museum, and it was great. It had replicas (or possibly real) air crafts and tankers and choppers, they were huge. My favourite part was the replica of the Coconut Island prison famous for its Tiger Cages. Plus it had a whole list of methods of torture, which truly opened my eyes and heart to what the soldiers had to go through.

Ho Chi Minh City 4D/3N Itinerary - Day 1

Date of Travel: 25-28 Oct 2012

Over the last Hari Raya Haji break, I organised a trip for a group of 9 persons to Ho Chi Minh City. If you read my previous blog post about Ho Chi Minh City, I know I said it's a place I would not return to, mainly because this photo is what I remember it as. Ha-Ha-Ha.

I was fairly surprised that a lot of things have changed in Ho Chi Minh (HCM for short).

1) It has become globalised, much more apparent than before. What used to be the lobby for Rex Hotel is now Versace and Chanel. Humongous shopping complexes line the city area in District 1, and a truly impressive expat area known as Phu My Hung at District 7, can rival Mont Kiara in KL or Bukit Timah in Singapore.

2) There are FAR less motorcycles on the road now, compared to 2006.

3) Almost nobody wore the traditional Ao Dai costumes anymore, only when necessary for work or school. Previously, I could easily spot anyone wearing one even when they are on motorcycles.

I found myself truly enjoying the new HCM, where I could break away from the hustle and bustle of markets to enjoy a nice cuppa at a cafe if I wanted to.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: XO Tours - Saigon By Night

Date of Travel: 26 Oct 2012

When in Vietnam, do like the Vietnamese do. So what is common in the whole of Vietnam? The sea of motorbikes! This was my second time riding a motorbike; the first was when I was around 15 years old, for a 5 minute ride in a small village in Penang with no cars. During that ride, I dropped a slipper and had to make a u-turn to fish it up.

The XO Tours company came very highly recommended in TripAdvisor. There were many similar motorbike tour companies for cheaper, but I believe in trying out the original and giving business to the people who first came out with this idea. Booking was very easy, with just an email via their website at You can choose to pre-pay via credit card, or pay in cash on the day of the tour. Insurance is offered, so full names of all passengers are required. They have several tours, but I picked the Saigon By Night for US$35/pax mostly because I felt that The Foodie Tour at US$65/pax for 4.5 hours inclusive of all food and alcohol was more than what I'd pay, and I don't drink alcohol nor eat that much.

There were 9 of us on this trip, and 9 beautiful girls appeared at our hotel lobby at 5:45pm with their Vespa motorbikes and stunning traditional Ao Dai attire. They gave each of us a helmet that was thankfully not smelly/sticky/gross in any way. They then gave a very brief explanation of where we were going, and each girl then picked a passenger. I tried to pick the motorbike I wanted to sit on, but they wouldn't have it. The girls pick you, not the other way around Hahaha. I think it's based on weight, the one who rides most confidently will pick the largest person in the group. Thus I ended up with the group leader *blush*.
"Are you sure you can drive me?"

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Seoul DIY Itinerary - Day 5 (Final)

Date of Travel: 3-8 Nov 2010

Today is our last day in Seoul, our flight departs at 11:20pm, so we've got a whole day ahead of us. Since HH is into photography, we decided to check out a techie mall. There are 2 very famous such malls in Seoul:
1) Electroland at Yongsan Electronics Market
2) Techno Mart (Gangbyeon Station)

We picked the second option, Techno Mart. The place was huge, consisting of 10 floors filled with almost the same thing. I gotta tell you, I was shocked that they had motion sensors in the toilet. In every cubicle, the moment you step in and closed the door, the light comes on. I know they do this at corridors of apartments, but in the toilets too? Wow.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Seoul DIY Itinerary - Day 4

 Date of Travel: 3-8 Nov 2010

Being a Saturday, it's time to visit some flea markets in Seoul. But first, before that, we naturally filled up our tummies. If you knew me, I have a soft spot for grilled mackerel fish. We walk past this shop everyday coming out of Doulos Hotel to the nearest bus stop/subway. I just pointed and ordered 1 fish, and a soup. Look at the humongous portion - and this was for breakfast. Oh man.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Seoul DIY Itinerary - Day 3

Date of Travel: 3 - 8 Nov 2010
The highlight of today: Seolnongtang (Beef Bone Soup) - I would return to Seoul just for this

We started the day with a mission to find this BBQ Restaurant. It is located at the Gangnam side of Seoul, i.e. the modern and upscale area. What attracted us to this place, was having BBQ pork with 30 types of organic vegetables, for only 8000 Won per person (RM22). This is the description we got for the location

Wonjo ssambapjib 쌈밥집 (02-548-7589)
대한민국 서울 강남구 논현동 165-15 +82 2-548-7589
165-15 Nonhyun-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Subway SinNonhyeon Exit 3, Follow direction of cars, 2nd right turn after a clinic, first left turn where Family Mart on right

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Seoul DIY Itinerary - Day 2

Date of Travel: 3-8 Nov 2010

Day 2

We had a mission to fulfill in Seoul. In our previous company trip to Seoul, we tasted one of our favourite dishes at a restaurant near Nami Island - Dak Galbi. It is a BBQ Chicken dish, where you cook it on a flat plate at your table and add rice or rice cakes to it. It was heavenly! This is what it looks like from 2007. I remembered Nami Island to be about 1.5 hours out of Seoul by bus, and the island was so beautiful in winter and we wanted to see it during autumn. Nami Island was also used in the filming of Winter Sonata.

This is Pagoda Park at Jongno 3-ga. Where's the pagoda?

Seoul DIY Itinerary - Day 1

Date of Travel: 3-8 Nov 2010

Deoksugung Palace. Tip: If you ever need to buy a winter jacket, choose bright colours!

When AirAsia first launched the Kuala Lumpur to Seoul route on 3 Aug 2010, the all-in-fare was only RM99! Although I had been to South Korea 3 times before, all of them were on a tour and I did not have the freedom to discover the beauty of Seoul on my own. I managed to secure a return fare for RM255/person, what a bargain.

TripAdvisor's no.1 hotel in Seoul at the time, was Doulos Hotel. With a price of 88,000 Won per night (approximately RM250), this was by far the cheapest hotel I could find at the time. So we were all set to go to Seoul, a place I now rate as my Top 3 destinations of the world.