Greetings from Saigon! I have been here since Wednesday morning and am actually leaving in the afternoon later but I did not have much time to pen down the series of events that occurred as I had so many things to strike off from my to-do-list here. My apologies for the lack of entries recently as I was in Hong Kong in the middle of the month and I went to Jakarta for Lunar New Year and 3 days after coming back to Singapore, I found myself in Ho Chi Minh City! I guess I will tame down for the next month or so before I travel again. So enough of digressing, let’s discuss on my first day at Vietnam! I could not do separate posts for the different eateries I ate at because I was afraid to take out my camera and start snapping shots on the roads of Saigon. Trust me, do not do that unless you want your cameras/phones to be snatched!
So, I touched down at Ho Chi Minh City at 8:40am on Wednesday and just FYI, Ho Chi Minh is an hour behind Singapore. As it was my first time at HCMC, Hai An offered to pick me up at the airport. Dat informed me via viber that Hai An has been waiting at the airport for me since 8:40am. However, I just wanted to be careful so I decided to get a sim card with data & calling available & it costs me 300,000 dong (CAD$17.57 / USD$14.05 / SGD$19.15). I thought that the price was fine but Dat told me that I could find cheaper alternatives elsewhere. I will keep that in mind in the future. I thought that we were taking a taxi to my guesthouse from the airport but Hai An told me he could send me via motorcycle along with my carry on cabin size luggage. I was amazed yet surprised at the same time that a luggage could be brought around with a motorcycle. Well, welcome to Vietnam! Apparently, majority of the people in HCMC use motorcycles to commute on a daily basis. Every single member of the family owns a motorbike. Through the ride, I realized that HCMC is very similar to Jakarta but I would never be able to be a pillion of a motorcyclist in Jakarta as it is forbidden in my family. After 20 minutes ride to District 1, I arrived at my guesthouse & checked in. I will touched more on my guesthouse in a separate entry.
As I was hungry, Hai An brought me to have one of Vietnamese’s common food and that is none other than Cơm Tấm. I have never heard of such names before despite having Vietnamese food several times. I have no idea where this is but you can find Cơm Tấm everywhere at Saigon. It’s like those stalls in Singapore, whereby you choose 2-3 ingredients along with rice (菜饭) except that the ones in Vietnam is served with broken rice. Since I was sleepy, starving and totally clueless as to what was good there, I just let Hai An do the job of choosing for me. There was so much to eat that I could not finish it. I had sườn (pork), chả (shredded pork skin), bì (pork egg custard). The food is quite dry if you do not add the nước mắm / fish sauce in it. I do not know how much does this cost as Hai An paid for it.
Trà Sữa Túi Lọc
Since it was my birthday that day, Hai An treated me to a cup of Vietnamese milk tea that included egg pudding and boba in it. It tastes different from the bubble tea served at other countries as the egg pudding helps to make the drink smooth.
241-3 Nguyễn Trãi,
Nguyễn, District 1
+84 8 3838 5089
After lunch with Hai An, I went back to my guesthouse to rest while he went to work. I was so drained from not sleeping much the previous night so I really needed sleep. Dat picked me up after work at 6pm & brought me to have another Vietnamese common food that everyone knows, Pho. Although it was my first time meeting Dat, I was very surprised that he gave me “Lucky Money” / Angbao / Red Packet / 红包 because it was my birthday and it was still the Tet holiday in Vietnam. I had the pho with mixed meats but I could not finish it as it is quite hard chewing the meats due to my braces. When I first tried Rau Má / Vietnamese Pennywort Juice in Little Vietnam at Singapore, I fell in love with it as it is a detox drink. I was so glad it is found anywhere in HCMC! No idea how much the total bill costs as well as Dat treated me.
OPENS MON-SUN: 6AM-3AM
AREA: DISTRICT 1
Food (taste & appearance): 6.5/10
On the streets of Saigon
After dinner, Dat brought me to snap shots of the streets of HCMC since it looks way more beautiful at night than during the day. You can see the Bưu điện Trung tâm Sài Gòn / Saigon Central Post Office (1st picture) and beautiful night lights of Saigon city!
Kem Ba Ba
I thought that only Thailand has the magical coconut ice-cream that everyone fancies but never did I expect Vietnam to carry this too. We had a variety of choices for the coconut ice-cream so I got myself the Kem Trái Dừa, while Dat ordered the Kem Nhãn. The dessert was so good that I am lost for words. After having some bites of the coconut ice-cream, Dat’s amazing friends Hoa & Tuan came and have some ice-cream themselves too. Both of them were so sweet even though it was the first day I knew them. Hoa gave me “Lucky Money” even though it was the first day I knew her while Tuan treated us for the desserts. Unfortunately, I do not know the address & costs of this place and it’s food as I was brought here by motorbike and the food was paid for by Tuan.
6E Ngo Thoi Nhiem Street,
Ward 7, District 3 (6e1 Ngô Thời Nhiệm, P.7, Quận 3),
+84 8 3930 7627
The last stop of the day was listening to singers singing amazing English/Vietnamese songs and people dancing to the grove of the music. I believe some of the singers have stayed in Vietnam for quite a long time as they can sing Vietnamese songs fluently despite being foreigners. What a great experience to end the night!
This concludes my first day at Ho Chi Minh City. To more entries ahead, stay tuned!
Came back from my Hong Kong trip two nights back and boy, do I miss the chilly weather there! I was happy to know that I managed to reunite with many Vancouverites on my 5D4N trip to Hong Kong and one of them is none other than Joyce.
自家點心 / Homemade Dim Sum
Shop 224A, Fa Yuen Street, Prince Edward
Joyce and I knew each other while working in a sushi studying & studying at UBC at the same time. We would have never-ending topics to talk about and we would laugh endlessly for no rhyme or reason. We reunited after 4 years at Hong Kong in June 2013 and once again, we managed to reunite this time. She told me to meet her at Exit B1 of Prince Edward MTR Station at 11:45am. Blame me for my lack of punctuality, I only reach there at 11:55am. She then took me to Homemade Dim Sum since I was craving for dim sum. Coincidentally, she also did not have dim sum for a long time so she was glad with my choice of food. Like other Hong Kong diners/restaurants, you have to share tables with other diners at Homemade Dim Sum. Since we came in pairs of twos, we had to dine with two other strangers in a table of four. Well, get used to it if you are living in Hong Kong. No idea why the sweet food item came first but we were first served with 香杧糯米糍 / Mango Glutinous Rice Dumpling (3rd picture) which costs HKD$18 for 2 rolls of it. Since both of us love to consume our food in chronological order (savoury first and sweet after), we decided to have it last. It was so fresh and we totally love it! Next, the 脆米炸蝦腸 / Steamed Rice Flour Rolls with Shrimps & Deep Fried Rice (4th picture) was served and it costs HKD$25 for 8 pieces of it. Since I am all up for crunchy and crispy food, this item was definitely my cup of tea. The third & forth dishes are no stranger to people who do not usually have dim sum. They are none other than the 蟹籽燒賣皇 / Steamed Shrimps Dumpling with Crab Roe (5th & 6th pictures) & 水晶蝦餃皇 / Steamed Shrimps Dumpling (7th picture). The dishes costs HKD$6 & HKD$7 each so since we ordered 4 of each, it will costs a total of HKD$24 & HKD$28 respectively. These dishes were mediocre and a little too dry but we managed to finish it up. Joyce recommended the 鮮竹牛肉球 / Steamed Minced Beef Ball with Beancurd Sheet (8th & 9th pictures) & 臘味糯米飯 / Glutinous Rice with Preserved Sausage (last picture), which cost HKD$18 & HKD$25 respectively. I really like how juicy and succulent the beef ball is and I am definitely a sucker for glutinous rice. The total came up to HKD$158 so each of us paid HKD$79.
OPENS MON-SUN: 9AM-MIDNIGHT
NEAREST MTR: PRINCE EDWARD; EXIT B1
PAYMENT METHODS: CASH ONLY!
Food (taste & appearance): 6.5/10
Homemade Dim Sum has a cozy vibe to it and although the ever-changing diners beside us kept eating at a rapid speed, we were glad that we did not have any pressure to get out of the restaurant, unlike other Hong Kong cafes. It was also a great catch up over dim sum with Joyce and I believe that is the most important factor of the day.