Chào mừng bạn đến với Việt Nam (Welcome to Vietnam)

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Part 1 Chào mừng bạn đến với Việt Nam (Welcome to Vietnam) My friends (L-R Cliff, Val and Mavie) Vietnam was one of my dream destinations. When my friends and I had booked an airfare promo to Vietnam, I felt so excited. This was the time that we were waiting for, to see Vietnam, to know their people and their cultures. Because of too much excitement, we dragged every single day to move closer and closer. My friend Mavie was so excited to go shopping at Cho Ben Thanh as she heard from her friend that this market sells different goods at a lower price. I remember that I told her not to shop more because she might get a problem with customs people at the airport. That was the way I teased her, but I can’t deny the fact that I was excited as well, not for shopping alone but to see Vietnam. Chào mừng bạn đến với Việt Nam (Welcome to Vietnam) Street food November 11, 2011, this was the day that we were waiting for, to see Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Our flight was scheduled at 11:00 o’clock in the evening. So I had enough time to finish my work first before taking my grandest vacation. I thought Mavie was only excited this travel but I was wrong, my friend Val was also very excited. To my surprise, he took a half-day leave from his work and went to airport as early as 5:00 o’clock in the afternoon, six hours ahead from our departure time. “Wow! I couldn’t imagine how excited he was.” I told Mavie via text messaging when she informed me about of what Val did. It was really funny to know what he did considering he lives only in Pasig City which takes 30 to 45 minutes travel time even in a rush hour. He was in the airport, while Mavie and I were still at work and tried to finish my weekly report. Subsequently, he did not escape from our banters thrown at him. Chào mừng bạn đến với Việt Nam (Welcome to Vietnam) Taxi in Vietnam Now, time for boarding, excitement was the only thing that was in my mind and no uneasiness whatsoever at that moment. I tried to close my eyes and tried to sleep when the plane finally took off, but drowsiness was not in my nerve then. Maybe I still had much caffeine in my blood that let me awake all the time. But I know coffee has no effect to me. I can sleep well after taking one mug of black coffee. But then, I could not take a sleep or even a nap. “What is wrong with me” I mumbled to myself. What I want was to take a rest to get some energy to face a new day and new adventures waiting for us. Chào mừng bạn đến với Việt Nam (Welcome to Vietnam) Vendor in Vietnam “At last, we are now here after 2 hours and one-half flight” I murmured. I tried to sneak a look of what Vietnam aerial view has to offer from the window. I saw parade of lights. I always admire light; its color, its form, its texture and its value. When I see light, I believe that it epitomizes of whatever problem that I come across in my life has always a solution; that every dark path that I have taken on would be traversed; that I have to continue to moving on despite of how typhoon barriers my path; that there still hope. These how light symbolizes to me. We alighted from the plane with hope that our travel would be great, have unforgettable experience and bring back the good memories. “This is it!” I cried out excitedly to my friends. After collecting our baggage on conveyor belt, we headed to the exit area and tried to negotiate taxi drivers to bring us to our hotel. One of the taxi drivers negotiated us USD25.00 each passenger. “What, that is too expensive!” Mavie exclaimed. It was really hard to understand what other drivers had said. They kept talking with their own language. I did not know if they understood us, as well as we did not understand them. So we kept negotiating to other taxi drivers, tried to haggle to minimize our taxi cost. Chào mừng bạn đến với Việt Nam (Welcome to Vietnam) This is the street where our hotel is located Chào mừng bạn đến với Việt Nam (Welcome to Vietnam) Vendor in Vietnam Chào mừng bạn đến với Việt Nam (Welcome to Vietnam) Other side of Cho Ben Thanh At that incident, I assessed myself that I had no brave to fight my rights. I was first who had given in the situation even if I was in a losing side. We were in a victory because of Mavie’s fortitude. She did not give up easily. Indeed, we are lucky to have Mavie with us. It took us 45 minutes to our hotel. I couldn’t avoid thinking of what the driver could do to us along the way. We did not know where to go and we had no idea where we were at that early morning in Ho Chi Minh City. We did not know if the driver would bring us to our hotel or not. I was keep praying that he brought us safely to our destination. Luckily, after a while of finding our hotel in the rows of bars and restaurants, Lac Vien Hotel was standing before us. Our hotel was basically great. It was kind of a 3 star hotel with less facilities compare to other well-known hotel in Ho Chi Minh City. But for a budget traveler like us, it was remarkably perfect plus the great location was the added factor. We were startled the size and its ambiance when we reached in our room considering it was only a budget accommodation. We only paid USD38.00 each for 3 nights for VIP room. Yes! you heard me right, we were in a VIP room (^____^). After settling in our ostentatious room, we went out nearby to check out some bars and restaurants, but, we found ourselves eating noodles in a convenience store.(^___^…lol). We were not magnetized to the loud music and the glistening dancing lights which followed concurrently to the rhythm of music. There were some tourists in the area but not to make the area crowded or I could say it was not a peak hour at that time. So, we decided to go back to our hotel after depleted our noodles to take rest. Chào mừng bạn đến với Việt Nam (Welcome to Vietnam) Cho Ben Thanh Day 1- we had woken up by temperate knock on the door. It was our friend, Clifford who was one day ahead of us here in Vietnam. He is lucky of his work as he can leave from his work anytime he wants. I really envy his work schedule though. Sometimes, I hope that I could have the same work schedule as he has. (sigh..) We began our day with complimentary breakfast in our hotel cafeteria. The said cafeteria was not that big which I think, it can only accommodate more or less 20 guests. The food was simply good. I had scrambled egg, 2 slices of bread with butter, 1 piece of banana and 1 glass of juice. But I couldn’t understand what the juice tastes like. Hahaha….:)Opps.. sorry for this… Chào mừng bạn đến với Việt Nam (Welcome to Vietnam) Cho Ben Thanh Chào mừng bạn đến với Việt Nam (Welcome to Vietnam) Reunification Palace Chào mừng bạn đến với Việt Nam (Welcome to Vietnam) Reunification palace fountain When we finally out from the Reunification Palace premises, we decided to take the traditional cyclo- a three-wheeled bicycle with the carriage at the front of the driver to go around the area. We agreed with the drivers that we pay USD1.00 for 4-cyclo. Eventually, we hopped in right away to the cyclo assigned to us with a big smile and excitement. It gave me a different feeling and different experience. Although, it was scary because of what may happen to us on the road and it was possible that we might be hit by car, motorcycle and other vehicles, and the fact that we wore no helmet. The mix emotion was in my nerve then; still, I let myself enjoyed of the atypical adventure ride. Chào mừng bạn đến với Việt Nam (Welcome to Vietnam) The gate of Reunification Palace On that ride, I had seen partly how the Vietnamese live; how they struggle with daily life and how they uphold their cultures. Motorcycles and bicycles are the common transportations in Vietnam. I had seen also a kid riding motorcycle together with his parents, and I was the one who scared of what I had witnessed because the kid was standing on the back of motorcycle, although he was held by his mother’s hand, but, the risk was too high plus he wore no helmet. It was one of the frightening scenes that I had ever seen in my life. But, they seemed that they did not mind what may happen to them. The common transportations of some other students are bicycle and motorcycle. I saw some students wearing uniform were on the bicycle heading to their school and minding not of the danger. Chào mừng bạn đến với Việt Nam (Welcome to Vietnam) Common transportation in Vietnam After an hour of wandering around the city, our drivers halted the cyclo at the War Remnants Museum. This is located at 28 Vo Van Tan, in District 3. Now, the time to pay to the drivers; they had asked us eventually to pay 100,000 Vietnam Dong each. It was almost USD5.00 each. We were surprised because what we had agreed was USD1.00 for all. All the drivers were importunate to collect the amount from us. But, we tried to argue with them. “Here we are again” I mumble. Scene like this is not my type. I don’t like arguing with people. I took my money absent-mindedly from my pocket and I would want to pay my driver. The thing that was in my mind at that juncture was to get away from domineering and pesky drivers. Chào mừng bạn đến với Việt Nam (Welcome to Vietnam) Cyclo Chào mừng bạn đến với Việt Nam (Welcome to Vietnam) Cho Binh Tay

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