I woke up just past 7 and then woke Dao up as we prepared for breakfast at the hotel below. Once down at the restaurant below, we placed our orders, we both ordered Pho Ga, while she had orange juice and I had iced tea. A hearty breakfast and nothing out of the ordinary.
We then headed back to our room, where we lingered for an hour or so before Dao declared that we were leaving for the museum. I had this morning chanced upon a promo code that Grab was running, which was 9,000 dong for any fares that cost less than or equal to 50,000 dong, and a maximum of 41,000 dong discount for trips more than 50,000 dong.
So booked ourselves a GrabCar to Ho Chi Minh City museum, and it only cost us 9,000 dong, roughly 50 cents in SGD, unreal! So this museum was a place that I have not been to so far, so it was a good choice. Admission was 30,000 dong, so I paid 60,000 dong.
The 2-story building which was previously known as Gia Long Palace, houses quite a fair bit of exhibits from the traditions and customs of the Vietnamese, to the revolutionary and communist history of Vietnam to modern times. Quite informative.
But obviously, we weren’t here for that, and I only briefly glanced at the exhibits. The time here was to take photos, lots of them, and we spent over 2 hours here. The building was modeled after classical Baroque architecture with European and Oriental influences, and seem to be a favorite with many locals, especially some who came here for their wedding photoshoot.
Not sure whether it was breakfast, but I had an upset stomach which caused me to have diarrhea twice at the museum washroom. And just when I didn’t bring Po Chai pills for this trip. Fortunately for me, I kind of recovered after I got everything out.
Change of style with her jacket.
After about 2 hours of photo taking, it was time for lunch. But we couldn’t really decide on anything of note until we decided to head nearby on foot for lunch. But as we walked less than 500m under the hot sun, Dao uttered surrender and begged for a GrabCar back to our hotel area. I tried to reason with her since the traffic was quite bad, but she didn’t relent. So I ordered a GrabCar for 9,000 dong again, and we waited for quite a fair bit before our driver came amidst the bad traffic and took us back to Bui Vien.
So while in the GrabCar, Dao suggested we should head to Asiana Food Town for lunch. Because, why not? So we took lesser time to decide what to eat. She ordered Bun Thit Nuong for 65,000 dong, while I ordered Shrimp Banh Khot for 70,000 dong. Kind of regretted my choice because it was no fun eating all 6 for lunch alone. I then ordered coconut coffee for 42,000 dong while she ordered Kiwi yogurt drink. She then disappeared for quite a fair bit after she said she wanted to go to the washroom. When she did return after 20 minutes, she said that she went to buy something of which I didn’t press her further on what she got.
We then headed back to the hotel where she had a change of outfit before we headed to our second destination of the day, Nghia An Pagoda. I had checked out the fare there earlier, and it showed 76,000 dong. So I had a shock when the fare showed 107,000 dong now when I was at the hotel. Told Dao about it, and she changed the location to the Food Town, and the fare was now at 79,000 dong. So smart of her to outsmart the location-based fare Grab fare system.
So after about 20 minutes, we were at our destination. Located within Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown, Cholon, I only learned later on that it was a place of worship dedicated to the Wu general, Quan Cong. The pagoda was a fine example of Chinese religious architecture in Vietnam, with its elaborately gilded woodwork, intricate statues, and other relics. During our time, there were quite a fair bit of women lining up to take photos at the pagoda’s main entrance, including soon-to-be-married couples. We spent over an hour here.
Perimeter photos as we waited patiently for a married couple and later on other girls who hogged the entrance.
Finally, it was our turn.
We then made our way on foot to a nearby pagoda, Bà Thiên Hậu Pagoda, which was an 18th-century pagoda built in 1870 to honor a sea goddess and featured colorful, ornate Chinese architecture. This was a smaller pagoda, and more populated with tourists than the previous one. So we just spent 10 over minutes here taking photos, before we got ourselves a GrabCar back to our hotel for 47,000 dong. Why the huge discrepancy in fares, this I wouldn’t know.
Before the decision to go back to the hotel, Dao actually suggested going to Little Japan to take photos. But since there was no fixed location, and it was really just one whole stretch of a street called Le Thanh Ton, she seemed to be put off by having to walk around aimlessly and decided to call it off since the night was setting in and she wasn’t feeling too well.
We then hung around in the room for a bit before deciding to head to Aloha Boys Poke which was just a street away for dinner. Basically, it’s a place selling salad bowls, but for half the price of what was charged in Singapore. Dao ordered a Poke Maikai for 120,000 dong while I got a Can-cun for 130,000 dong. There was a couple occupying the street-viewing seats, and Dao pouted at times that she wanted that view. Cute. We again took a fair bit of photos here. As we ate, more people came into the place, and they were all foreigners.
We finished our dinner in about 20 minutes and it was still early. So we headed to the nearby Highlands Coffee, where she ordered tea with lotus seeds while I ordered hot caramel macchiato, the total was 108,000 dong. We then sat at the second story overlooking the street for a fair bit, while she kept taking photos. We spent close to an hour here.
I was really bored at doing nothing, so Dao then suggested we take a walk at Saigon Love Lake inside 23/9 Park, which was just a lake and nothing much to it, besides it was dark and you can’t see shit. What we could see was couples on benches lining the lake, cuddling, and kissing.
We then walked around the perimeter of the park and then wound up at the outdoor stage of the Food Town, where we took photos again. Before heading back to the hotel, we spent some time circling inside the Miniso outlet but didn’t get anything. We then headed inside the FamilyMart to get breakfast for tomorrow, and spent quite a fair bit of time here, as Dao couldn’t decide what bread to get. Total damage was 78,000 dong for two bread, 2 drinks, Dasani mineral water, and a sandwich. This was so cheap.
Back at the hotel, as Dao was packing up after her shower, I gave her her birthday present and Christmas present, a McDonald’s pajamas and Innisfree green tea masks. I could tell she was happy to receive them. We then turned in for the night, not before talking a fair bit, the most we have talked at one time without stopping. While she talked about going to Da Lat sometime next year with me, I wasn’t so sure since many things might happen in between then. Who knows? I didn’t want the night to end so soon, but it had to since she had to get up early.
Got up at 4am as scheduled. Woke Dao up as she roused from her bed, and then went about doing her stuff. Just before 4:30am, she was done and we said farewell. I then lingered around for a while before packing up my stuff as well and got ready to check out.
Unexpectedly busted my 4G data just before checking out, so I was like standing near the hotel using their WiFi as I tried hailing a GrabCar which seemed to be failing me at this crucial juncture despite being in a popular hotspot. Anyway, I paid up 1,280K Dong for my 3 nights stay which was good value to me and headed to the main street as I waited near the bus stop, hoping for the 109 bus to come or someone accepting my GrabCar order.
Minutes ticked by and I was getting anxious. But finally, after about 10 minutes or so, a driver accepted my order, and I was soon on my way to the airport. The fare cost me 83,000 Dong including the airport toll, and this was after I had used the Vuila9 Grab promo code.
Reached the airport just after 7am, and the airport counters were already teeming with people. One counter was catered just for those on the Singapore flight, and I was lucky because the line got even longer after me. Anyway, I only managed to get my flight ticket at around 7:30am, which tells you how crowded the airport was at this period. I then took another 30 minutes or so to clear security. I then pondered over spending money on having breakfast at the airport but decided against it because it was just not worth the money. I then headed to the boarding gate and was just in time to board the first shuttle bus to the plane. Surprisingly the plane wasn’t full when it took off, and this was a surprise for me.
And that concludes my final overseas trip in 2019.