Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Trip to HCMC

It's been a week since we left for our Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) trip and sure doesn't feel like it.

It was a really eventful trip, to say the least. It started off when one of our business associates who was supposed to join us called at the last minute to inform us that she would not be going due to some family issues. Fifteen minutes later, she called to say she would join us again!

At the airport when checking in, we realised that we forgot to pack my sister's baggage with us to the airport!! A mad rush ensued to go back home to bring the said baggage to the airport for a quick check in! By then, I had enough drama to last me a week (Or so I thought).

It was a rather uneventful flight on Vietnam Air, thankfully! The kids were well behaved with only complaints of slight earache upon our descent into the city. More surprises awaited us upon arrival at the airport. Mr H. who only had a travel document (not a passport) needed a visa to enter Vietnam and he did not have one! After half an hour of fruitless talking with the customs officer (whose face I really want to box!) it was agreed that Mr H would have to stay back in a nearby hotel while the customs officer arranged for a visa for him which would be ready by noon the next day. THe cost? US$200.

The fun started the next day, when we visited the CuChi Tunnels. A 2-hour bus ride from the city, the tunnels are a testament to the Vietnamese tenacity and genius during the Vietnam War. The heat was horrendous, but it was really interesting to see the many booby traps and weapons they used, and experience the claustrophobia of the tunnels. The kids were really spooked by the gigantic milipedes we saw too. Haha. We also got to try their food during the war (tapioca) and bought ourselves some Vietcong hats. :)

THis was followed by lunch at the touristy Indochine, then we headed back for some R&R (rest & retail therapy, that is haha!!) Lucky Plaza was small and rather nice, and it has always been impossible for me to resist buying anything while on holiday (even copy stuff) even though I told myself not to!! Also ventured to Tax Centre for some supermarket shopping with C! We then had dinner with Mr P. at Ngoc Suong, a nice French-styled Vietnamese restaurant. It was a long dinner though, and the kids got rather impatient and J fell asleep.

THe next day, we had the customary city tour where we visited the Presidential Palace (super hot again!) and Central Post Office. We then had lunch at Le Dong Du - mediocre tour-style food! That's when our friend , I., told us she had to go back to Singapore due to the urgent family matter. We split up after lunch, some to Ben Thanh, and me and the kids and mum back to hotel to arrange for I's ticket back, and get some (more) R&R. Dinner was at the super yummy Crystal Jade Restaurant at Legend Hotel . We went there on cyclos - small trishaw-styled vehicles! IT was a wonderful experience, weaving through the signature Vietnamese traffic! :)

Before we knew it, it was our final day there. We spent the morning packing and making a quick trip to Saigon Square and Lucky Plaza, then headed to the airport for our journey back. After more altercations with the checkin staff (we had excess baggage!!) and US$192 poorer, it was home sweet home!!

HCMC, we will see you again !

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