Saturday, October 8, 2011
En Route to Ho Chi Minh City
The final leg of our South East Asian trip last August, was a visit to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. Since it was my first time in HCMC, I made up a list of places we would visit once there. I'll blog about that soon. :) But for now, I will share about the trip per se, going to HCMC.
HOW TO GO THERE:
From Siem Reap, John and I took a bus trip via Phnom Penh, Cambodia through Mekong Express. We bought our bus tickets two days ago for $23 / each. We were told that we will be picked up at Somadevi Angkor Hotel (where we were staying) at exactly 7:00 a.m. So we checked out around 5:30a.m. Had a sumptous breakfast at the hotel's restaurant and waited at the lobby. True enough, the driver arrived at exactly 7 in the morning.
We were picked up by a small and old bus, I feared that it will fall into pieces if you put more stuff in it. hehe.. I wondered "HOW and IF" it would make it to Ho Chi Minh. Soon enough, I realized that they just use it to ferry people from their hotels. The real Mekong Express Bus was waiting for us at the bus station. :)
Finally, we were on board the big bus. Their seats had a tall back support, making it a little comfortable while travelling. I wished though that it was wider so there's room for movements. The lady guide gave us wet tissues and snacks which consisted of 2 breads and 1 mineral water, per person.
The trip from SR to Phnom Penh was uneventful. The countryside was filled with rice fields mostly. We have those all over the Philippines so it wasn't that interesting for me anymore.
We reached Phnom Penh after lunch. Unlike Siem Reap, I noticed that PP is dirty. I saw litters all over the place. :( I thought that Davao is so much cleaner than this city. Tsk..tsk..
I liked the view of the mighty Mekong Delta beside the road.
Phnom Penh Park, overlooking the Mekong Delta.
A few minutes later, we were at the Ferry wharf. While we were boarding, I couldn't help but notice the vendor selling spicy crickets. I know, a lot of people are into eating exotic food, but I am glad that I don't have to do that. It looked so disgusting, I don't think I'll have the stomach to try it.
Spicy Crickets.. :) It looked like cockroaches to me.
ACCORDING TO WIKIPEDIA:
"The Mekong Delta (Vietnamese: đồng bằng sông Cửu Long “Nine Dragon river delta”) is the region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. The Mekong delta region encompasses a large portion of southwestern Vietnam of 39,000 square kilometres (15,000 sq mi). The size of the area covered by water depends on the season.
The Mekong Delta has recently been dubbed as a 'biological treasure trove'. Over 10,000 new species have been discovered in previously unexplored areas of Mekong Delta, including a species of rat thought to be extinct. "
The Mekong Delta reminded me of Bankerohan River in Davao City, on a rainy season. A friend of mine, Mita described it like this - "think of coffee with creamer" . LOL
My experience was far from that of River Monster's host, who rides in a very small boat, trying to catch a ginormous fish. But still, I was happy that I was given the chance to visit the place in my lifetime. :)
We arrived Ho Chi Minh City around 6 in the evening already. We were dropped off at the park in downtown area. From there, our hotel was less than 10 mins away. But since we were new to the place , (obviously) , we got ripped off by a very "helpful" driver.
Before we left Davao, I went to Aldevinco to have some pesos exchanged into the local currencies of Thailand , Cambodia and Vietnam. It's mainly for airport fees, taxi fees , etc.
So when the taxi driver started the meter, I was not worried. I have millions of Vietnam Dong. :) Yes, I was a millionaire in Vietnam. hahaha... Anyways, the sad part was that the taxi meter reached 450,000.00 dong = $22.50 dollars. Not knowing that we were being ripped off, I paid and said thank you. lol
Only to find out later that the fee from the airport (about 30mins travel) to Sanouva Hotel in downtown HCMC is only $7 dollars = 140,000.00 vietnam dong. huhu...
So yes, take note of this when you go to vietnam.
Our hotel room in Ho Chi Minh City: http://sanouvahotel.com/en-US/zone/557/item.cco
It's a small but new hotel. So the room and bathroom was very clean. Our booking included buffet breakfast. Their food is good so if we ever go back to Vietnam, we will stay there again. (To the staff: Thank you for your assistance. )
On Vietnam Visa:
Filipinos are allowed to enter Vietnam without a Visa. So I just presented my passport and voila, here I come Vietnam! :)
With John, it's a different story. Being an american, he had to get a visa before entering Vietnam. There's no Vietnam Embassy in Davao. But there's one in Manila. We found that a hassle so we opted to get one in Thailand. Details can be found here - (http://leawalker.blogspot.com/2011/08/bangkok-day-1-and-2.html )
Mekong Express - Siem Reap
# 14 Sivutha St., Siem Reap
Tel. No. (855-63) 963662 or (855-12) 315858
Mekong Express - Phnom Penh
87 Eo, Sisowath Quay, Sangkat Wat Phnom
Khan Daun Penh, Phnom Penh Capital,
Tel. No. (855 23) 427515 / 426425
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Mekong Express - Ho Chi Minh
275H Pham Ngu Lao, Dist 1 Ho Chi Minh,
Tel. No. (+848) 8373917
Lea C. Walker