19 July 2008

Visiting Vietnam - Day 5

We got up early to catch the morning coach back to Dalat. I was a little sad to be leaving this quaint little town. Still I was looking forward to returning to Ho Chi Minh City to catch up on the shopping and sightseeing we might have missed. Got to buy lots of stuff back as evidence, you know!

A last look at Dalat’s morning sky

The 7 hour coach ride was plagued yet again by the ceaseless honking by the driver. It almost seemed like the horn was meant for the passengers inside the coach instead of the other motorists.

In between, a stop over for the passengers to empty our bladders. Almost like those stopovers in Malaysia, they had stalls hawking various foodstuffs. The first one we stopped at sold mainly fruits. I had to take this photo of the local variety of avocados which were so much bigger than the ones we import into Singapore, and lots cheaper.

Vietnamese avocados, not to be mistaken as mangoes

We returned to Ho Chi Minh City at around 12.30pm and checked into Madam Cuc’s. Unfortunately, we were allocated a room up on the fourth floor…

The stairwell

Fortunately, they had a motorized pulley to hoist our luggage up to our floor through the open stairwell.

Having dumped our stuff in the room, we proceeded to lunch. We returned to Bun Bo Hue, like the way a less adventurous traveler with a weak stomach should. Plus, we were captivated by their spring rolls and combination rice cakes.

With our stomachs filled, we returned to Ben Thanh Market for another round of shopping before we linked up with Jingjing’s friends and their friends to have a tour of The Reunification Palace (or The Independence Palace).

Turns out that we were almost too late to get in. Thankfully the people at the counter allowed us to get the last tickets for the day. It was a pretty rushed affair, but we managed to take a good amount of photos for memory’s sake.

A pleasant lady in an Ao Dai stepped forward to ask if we would like a guided tour of the palace. We agreed since it was free and it should spare us the ordeal of getting lost in the premises. The most memorable part of the tour has got to be the guide’s Vietnamese accented English as she rattled off a memorized script at every specialty room we were brought to. We managed to capture about 30% of what she said on the spot and I retained about 1% at this point of time…

So after running around the palace, we ended up in the kitchen, where the guided tour ends. Adjacent to the kitchen was a photo gallery of the historic events that took place at this monumental palace. This was the photo that left the deepest impact.

It was closing time, so we made our way out of the palace and proceeded to a really nice but noisy seafood restaurant with ceaseless live music for our dinner. The place was so loud we literally gave up chatting with each other.

Still the food was pretty good and fresh. As for the atmosphere, well, I guess we weren’t in the right state of mind to enjoy it. But nevertheless a great experience. We then adjourned for ice cream.

Before we split groups, we asked for recommendations to a good massage parlour, and we ended up at Golden Lotus for the masseuse to untie those knots in our aching bodies.

With that, we returned to our hotel and knocked out. Tomorrow, we would fly back home.

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