Monday, March 31, 2008

Cám ơn, VIetnam!

Last weekend, Dennis and I went to Vietnam. It was fun and a great experience but to tell you honestly, I do not know where to start my Saigon tale.

I suppose it would make sense to start from the beginning....

We were not picked up at the airport which made us wait and take the taxi to our hotel which was ok. I planned to get my money back anyway. The fare should only be about $15.00 from the airport to the center of the city. We stayed at Sofitel which was not bad at all, but to tell you the truth, I would rather stay in Grand Hyatt. But that is probably the spoiled brat in me talking. (Bwa ha ha)

When we got to the hotel, I tried to hypnotize the receptionist to upgrade us....and to my surprise, it worked! YIPEE!!!
The room is very spacious and most importantly clean.

Our package came with breakfast and apparently, it was a bubbly morning meal as they serve champagne and caviar to help you get your day started right. (hihi)

The pool was decent and situated on the 18th floor which gave us a good view of the city.

After unpacking, DL and I went shopping in Tax Department Store, our version of Virra Mall. In less than 30 minutes, we blew a good amount of money on local goodies such as hand embroidered bed linen, table cloth and napkins. There were also a lot of home accessories such as hand carved boxes, wooden plates and opium containers. Really great shopping and super cheap too! Just a tip, as suggested to me by a client, I stocked up on $1, $5 and $10 bills because it is hell of a lot easier to make a purchase using US$. They also accept Euro and will even give change in Euro or US$.

We walked around District 1 and saw beautiful structures and sights that reminded us of Tuscany, France and Italy.

I am missing this place already. But I heard that Hanoi is something not to be missed as well. And I hope that this summer, I can find time to go.

Luckily, DL has friends living in Saigon and they are all Filipino ex-pats. When we were finally able to meet up on our first night, they taught us about a whole lot of things about the culture, politics, lifestyle and most importantly, the night life. Here are some of the places they took us.

Q Bar

Hanz Cubillan, Reggie, July Malantic and yours truly.  

Apocalypse Now

The streets at night.

Le Jardin, a small and quaint French restaurant that has the best goat cheese salad. That's the only thing I would order there though. Food was not really that great.

The Refinery. An old Opium house that closed not so long ago. Darn, I missed it. It has really great art work as well.

An always fully packed restaurant, Quan An Ngon.

One of the Filipinas that we met is the manager of Faconnable and I just have to make mention that in her store, you are served with red or white wine, cognac and all sorts of liquor while you shop. While enjoying your drink, you may sit on the lounge and watch your favorite movie. Now, that is service.

The Ben Tan Market. I would have loved to eat in the seafood strip here. Authentic cuisine using fresh seafood. Instead, I went shopping, but stay away from fake goods. Our version of Divisoria but much better looking. Start by asking at least 70% off the price given.

The trees....the trees...the trees....breathtaking!! There are parks every other corner and it is such a breath of fresh air to see so many tall trees in the midst of such a busy city.

Random pics that I found either beautiful, interesting, funny or all of the above.

A make shift barber shop on the side walk.

A handmade ship with the finest details.

A bar not microwavable because it covered the whole wall with aluminum foil.

They love us Flippers there because we are Asians that speak English well. Guess the one who made this sign was a local.

And at last, I urge you to book your ticket and head on to Ho Chi Minh, just make sure you take me with you when you go.

Once again, Thank you Vietnam!