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Ho Chi Minh City - Mỹ Tho - Bến Tre - Tây Ninh

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Sunday (18/6/2006) We left for Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) at around 2.30pm from Brunei and the flight only took 90 minutes. Landed in Tan Son Nhat airport around 3.30pm (Vietnam time) and had slight problem in finding our tour guide, Mai because there were lots of people as well as tour guides carrying various names and labels. Finally managed to find her by calling her mobile.

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Before we checked into Windsor Plaza Hotel, we stopped by a tailor shop to make our ao dai. I chose a purple 100% vietnamese silk for my top which was combined with purple organza and my trousers was light purple. With the materials, workmanship and embroidery, it only costed me US$35. By the time we reached the hotel, it was already 7.30pm. The hotel looks grand. There's a small mini bar on the groung floor, 4th floor is the reception counter for those who are staying in superior rooms while we had to go all the way up to the 24th floor to check into the executive rooms. I stayed with 1 of my friend on the 21st floor because we took the twin beds while our other three friends stayed on the 20th floor which has 3 single beds. Other advantages include free international breakfast and dinner throughout our stay in the hotel. Now I'm about 3kg heavier than before I left for Ho Chi Minh!

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Monday (19/6/2006) We visited Thien Hau temple first before heading for the textile market. They have numerous stalls inside 1 building filled with cloth materials. However, the place was so cramped with textiles that it was quite uncomfortable 'coz it was stuffy and the lane to walk was just enough for 1 person to walk through. Next, we head to Ben Thanh and then Cholon market. These 2 places are famous for handicrafts, bags, souveniors, clothes, hats and other just about anything. Hoewever, prices do not come cheap because you have to bargain. Even after bargaining, the price is still higher than other places where you can get the same thing. Next, we went on to a lacquareware factory where they use mother of pearls and egg shells to do pictures of sceneries, animals and people.I bought 5 pieces for only US$120, 4 of which belongs to the Chinese myth that is the phoenix, unicorn, dragon and turtle. Finally, we headed to a gemstone factory which sells different types of stones and jewelleries before going to the tailor to try our ao dai.

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Tuesday (20/6/2006) We went to Mekong Delta using the Southern Peace boat which was actually for tourists who uses bicycle to travel around Vietnam. However, luck was on our side because since there wasn't any tourist at that time, our tour guide managed to get the boat for us. It's so spacious, very comfortable and relaxing. Pass through many islands before stopping by Mỹ Tho to see the fruit plantation. The first thing which caught our eye on the way to the plantation were longan trees. So, we just picked them off from the trees and kept eating all the way to the owner's home 'coz they were just so big and sweet! Then we took photos with the biggest pomelo fruit which we have ever seen 'coz the fruit is actually bigger than my head! We also tried the 'rambai' which was quite sour 'coz not all of them were ripe yet before we were served with rice cake crackers and tea with honey. The last destination was to another island, Bến Tre which produces coconut handicrafts and sweets before we headed for land to have our lunch. I don't know whether if it's because we're hungry (had it at 3.30pm Brunei time) or simply because the food was just so delicious.

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We went to Cu Chi tunnel in the morning which among all of my friends, I was the only one who could go into the original tunnel because of my small size but all of us had a try to walk in the tunnel in total blackness. Basically, you have to bend down slightly and touch both walls to see where you're heading to 'coz it's just pitch black. The only person who got a torch light was the tunnel guide but he was walking way in front while I was the second last person. It was tiring walking in that manner and quite stuffy in the tunnel wven though the walls felt cool. How the Vietnamese managed to survive in the tunnel is just amazing. After that, we headed to District 1 where the War Remnants Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral and Central Post Office is but before that we had our lunch at Restaurant 19. At night, we ate International seafood buffet for about almost B$20 per person. Worth the value if you are into seafood especially oysters, shells and snails.

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Thursday (22/6/2006) We did last minute shopping and packing before checking out at 1pm. Our tour guide, Mai had also managed to buy for us lai chee which is more sweeter and fleshy than those sold in Brunei and it only cost about B$1.60 per kg.

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What we have learnt about Vietnamese are that they love sweet, salty and hot food. But the food are very delicious and the sceneries are beautiful even though Vietnam is not as modern as other developing countries.

Posted by Lingering 14:43 Archived in Vietnam

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