Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Heat is On in Saigon

Travel Date: May 24, 2012

     Saigon now called Ho Chi Minh City has always fascinated me since I was 16 years old.  It started after watching the local theater show “Ms. Saigon” in our province.  So when the opportunity came to travel along with my officemates on a trip to Ho Chi Minh City, Siem Reap and Bangkok, I knew I couldn’t let it pass.  We had a one day city tour around Saigon that includes eating local delicacies, visiting museum and famous landmarks, and shopping for souvenir items.

     From Hoang Hai Long 2 Hotel near Ben Thanh Market, we walked around the city with the scorching heat of the sun to find Notre Dame Cathedral and the Post Office.  After asking the locals for direction, since we don’t have a map, we finally found the Notre Dame Basilica.

     Notre Dame Basilica or the Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception was established by the French colonists and built between 1863 and 1880.  The outside wall was constructed with red bricks from Marseille, France.  While, the statue of Our Lady of Peace in front of the church was made of granite and it arrived from Rome on February 16, 1959.  The statue was reported to have shed tears on October 2005, attracting thousands of people.  However, the top clergy in Vietnam did not confirm that it shed tears which nevertheless failed to disperse the crowd.

    Just across the street is the Saigon Central Post Office.  Built during the early 20th century when Vietnam was still part of the French Indochina and designed by the famous architect Gustave Eiffel in harmony of the surrounding area.

Me in front of the Saigon Central Post Office

Inside the Post Office

      Then, we took a taxi to Pho Hoa Pasteur to have our lunch.  This restaurant is best known for its delicious noodles.  For many years, it has been considered the best noodle restaurant.  The noodle soup is infused with explosive flavors and seasonings boiled for hours, so different from what I tried in Vietnamese Restaurant in the Philippines.

Pho Hoa noodles

     After our heart-warming meal, we went to War Remnants Museum.  It was opened on September 4, 1975.  Here you can see all the remnant proofs of Vietnam-American war crimes and their consequences.  As I walked along the collection of war documentary photos taken by 134 journalists from 11 nationalities, I just found myself teary eyed.  It was heart breaking to see how the innocent civilians died during the Vietnam War, how the villages been bombed by Americans, and the effects of Agent Orange chemicals to the next generations.

War Remnants Museum

Phuc Tan called for a revenge (Photo: Vu Ba)

     At night, we had our dinner at Banh Xeo 46A.  Famous for Vietnamese Pancake, we ordered one and observed the locals how they eat it.  We ate it the way the locals do and I like how it taste.  Their spicy chicken wings are also delicious.  And I will never forget the sweet taste of Vietnam’s fresh coconut juice.

Banh Xeo 46A

     A few steps away, we saw this beautiful pink church of Nha Tho Tan Dinh.  It was built by French colonist in the early 20th century and the second largest Roman Catholic church in Ho Chi Minh City.  It is situated on the busy street of Hai Ba Trung of District 3.

Nhà Thờ Tân Định

     Our last stop, we shopped at Ben Thanh Night Market.  Here you can buy cheap souvenir items, T-shirts, bags, coffee, fruits, etc.  And don’t forget to try your haggling skills; everything they sell here can be negotiated.  As what the sales lady will say, "Make me happy."

Ben Thanh Night Market


Spencer said...

I loved the Ben Thanh Night market! It was so interesting and some of the food I got there was out of this world!

Bubbles said...

Me too! :) Everything is so cheap.