Postcard from the Southeast : a travel journey (Part 3 - Vietnam)

Sunday, Monday
29th and 30th December 2013

So we took the night bus from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam.  I did not know how to board and sleep in this bus.  I was assigned to top bed with my roommate.  The first bus was quite comfortable though the air was so humid.  It was hard for me to breathe.  I slept well and avoid drinking water because I hated to go the loo.  But eventually, I did.  I was awaken when passenger has finished their first toilet break somewhere in Cambodia.  So I jumped the bus and went to the toilet.

my bus situation... -.-"
I boarded the bus, had some snacks and slept again.  The bus was getting more and more crowded.  At 3 in the morning, we were asked to take our belonging and change the bus.  It was nearly dawn, we were sleeping everybody was clueless and cranky.  Our group decided to stay in pack as they asked to check our passport and tickets.  We were the last to board the 2nd bus.  The driver told me to come inside first, but I insisted that I needed to wait for my friend, as Kalun, my travelmate was having all documents checked.  

Since we were the last to arrive on the bus, there were no seats/beds left!  All the foreign tourist, hunky male were occupying 2 beds for themselves.  Those selfish jerks! So, I had no choice but to sleep on the bottom bed, next to a stranger.  Male.  White.  Stranger... which I was okay with it. He has been sound asleep, with eye masks, blanket and ear plug.  He couldn't be bothered.  He is also slim so I could fit in just well, and he smells just fine, I mean he has no body odor.  The first thing that I approved.

So I was trying to tuck myself comfortably for sleep.  At around 5 in the morning,  I was awaken again by a noise.  I think my seatmate/bunkmate/the dude was awaken too and was trying to reach for something.  It was dark, he kept poking at my eyes.

"Sorry for breaking in," he said
"It is okay."  I said, actually I was the one who broke in when he was sleeping.  "Do they have a toilet around here?"

So I ran again, heading for restroom.  I did not have any Riel with me when they asked me to pay for the toilet use, so I gave the Baht.  And they returned the change in Riel, and I was gonna get rid of all riel in my pocket, but then it keeps coming back.

Anway we continued the journey again, and at one point we took a ferry.  We stopped for breakfast at 8 o'clock, and resume our journey to the Cambodian/Vietnam border at 10 A.M. When we were transferred from Cambodian and Vietnam border I did not see my seatmate/bunkmate/the dude traveling with our group.

So after I had my passport back -- Our passport was secured and given to the immigration counter by the bus operator, which I was a bit worried off -- it has been stamped and I walked to the bus again.  The humidity and cleanliness on the bus was getting even worse.  Aircond unit was leaking.  I have just realised that I had been sleeping next to a pile of Mr.Potato tube and beer cans. Crazy.

Then I met my seatmate again, whom I thought we had lost somewhere, he said that he had a problem with his visa support letter.  It would only allow him to enter Vietnam through airport, not crossing border.

I learnt that he is American, by his accent and he confirmed so, and he asked me where do I come from, well I am from Indonesia.

So we continued our journey in Vietnam, the signboards were all different.  They have no special alphabet but just strange latin words.  The bus dropped us at the backpacker center of Ho Chi Minh, at Pham Ngu Lao street, where we were staying.

So begin our adventure in Vietnam!

Monday, 30th December 2013

It is the afternoon a day before new year's eve.  We were extremely hungry so we wanted to find Pho or local vietnamese food, and we found one around the street, which was very disappointing. My friend complained that the beef was somehow sour, and my com ga (broken meal rice) was something that I can easily replicate at home.  Which nothing much and real rather than rice and fried chicken....  My friends ordered pho which was also nothing more than a bowl of disappointment.  We were exhausted from the trip, and some of our friend were leaving the next day.  So that would be only Opi and I staying until the new year.

We walked further around the corner until we found an amazing dessert shop of Che, basically it is a shaved iced served with toppings... It is better than frozen yogurt, and they also sold a rice paper roll, that is amazing.

We walked District one by our feet, from parks to parks.  I noticed that in Ho Chi Minh people are paying a good attention to their bodies and they always perform gymnastic in a group.  They are very nationalistic, it is perhaps because they are socialist.  There are poster that shows happy faces of middle-class people and workers.  One thing I observe in Ho Chi Minh is the insane traffic.  You think Jakarta has insane traffic well, think twice when you come to Ho Chi Minh. Vehicles won't stop there are not really traffic lights around, but you need to step very confidently so that they stop.

I am happy with the Vietnamese Currency, simply because, Rupiah is twice stronger.  So it means if I convert 100.000 Rupiah to Dong, then it would be doubled!  I felt like a king!

Vietnamese coffee shops are everywhere and the seats are always placed to overlook the street. For those who wonder how Vietnamese serve their coffee... It is strong and they have a special dripping pot.

One of Vietnamese delicacies we tried...
I noticed, there is a small muslim town behind the Ben Thant Market.  I regretted for not having some pictures taken, but there are so signboards with "Terima Kasih" and "Selamat Datang" on stores.  Some Indonesian songs were played.  The stores sold mostly Muslim praying clothes and colorful hijabs.  There are more muslims living in Vietnam rather than in Cambodia as far as I observed.

We wander around the town and of course, made a stop to several eating places... we ended up finding a good pho shop just around the corner of the hotel

New Year's Eve

It was almost new year, but my travel buddies were leaving for homecountries.  We walked District one again, only 3 of us now.  We were heading towards the bridge and all the renaissance styles building and to the pier, to the opera house, and all of the sudden it felt like we are not in Asia anymore, and also begins the appearance of high-fashion stores.

The Opera House Building
Fountain near opera house
At funky coffeehouse
We spend the afternoon visiting the War Remnant Museum, where they showcase what's left from the Vietnam War, and it get me obsessed to learn about the history of socialist and liberal country. I think the same turn of event are still happening in parts of the world right now.  I like to learn about the begin of its conspiracy.  It gets very intriguing for me to think about it.

Propaganda poster in War Remnants Museum
Almost to the new year eve, Opi and I went to the bridge where they had set the stage on.  The performance was all brought in Vietnamese, but it was very beautifully executed.  But I had no idea what they were talking about for 4 hours.  There were fireworks, however it was less spectacular than I had expected.  Then I got very cranky, because the road after the celebration was jammed.  You could not literally go everywhere, people got drunk, and all I wanted is fries.

New Year Celebration's stage at the bridge

We departed to Kuala Lumpur the next day, and the international airport was okay though....

Saying goodbye to loaded awesome week!

P/S : I am sorry for this lousy travel description, simply because the trip was a month ago, and I was not that discipline to keep up tracks... so I was trying to remember what to write, and it is getting late here... I am sorry, all and all it was such an awesome trip!


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