Vietnam & Cambodia Trip – Part 1

New year, new destination, so we decided to go to Vietnam for the first time. Since we have a long day off why don’t we visit Cambodia too? This is our third trip together in 3 years in a row. We have almost one year preparation so we could saving more money. We booked the flight since 24 Sept 2011 for depart on 27 Aug 2012 from CGK (Cengkareng – Jakarta) on 4.35 PM, will be arrive at SGN (Saigon/Ho Chi Minh) on 7.40 PM. We will flight back  on 4 Sept 2012 from SGN on 8.20 PM, will be arrive at CGK on 11.25 PM. (Price and other expenses will be displayed on the attached picture at the bottom of the page).

Day 1

We arrived at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Ho Chi Minh that night. There’s nothing unique about the airport, similar like in Jakarta, as well as the weather. It doesn’t take long to get out of the airport. When we’re walking through the exit gate suddenly a taxi drivers approaching us, offering their services, claiming that their service is better than the usual taxi. He keeps talking and walking with us for a few minutes. Since we haven’t found the taxi line yet, finally we agreed to go with him and approving his price, THB 450.000 plus parking fee THB 50.000. We don’t know whether the cost is normal or not because we don’t know how far our hotel is so we just agreed easily. When we arrive at the hotel, which is only 15 minutes away from the airport, we asking about the taxi cost and they said we’ve just got scam to pay that much. Ouch! Bisa-bisanya kena scam padahal supir taxi di negeri sendiri juga kelakuannya persis kaya gitu, yah berhubung sesama negara berkembang jadi ga aneh. Besok-besok harus lebih waspada nih! #selfnote

We’re supposed to be stay in Saigon Pink Hotel, but unfortunately it was fullbooked ( I don’t know why it happened, we booked a few months earlier) then we transfer to another hotel in walking distance (guided by the hotel’s staff) and turns out it’s the same hotel that we booked for our last night in Ho Chi Minh. What a coincidence! The Halo Hotel, the place that we stay, is a budget hotel. The room was quite nice. Not too big, not too small, small bathroom but good enough for both of us. With the price that we paid we don’t have any complain about their services. We also booked a half day tour to Cu Chi Tunnel through the their front office. I guess all the hotels will provide the same services. You can choose any kind of tour, they have many options. Private or in a group. The tour guide will pick you up at the hotel and drive you back, so you just relax and enjoy the trip. It’s easier than you have to arrange the trip by yourself.

Day 2

Let’s go to the Cu Chi Tunnel ! But before that, the tour guide bring us to a place where the handicapped made handycrafts for their living since 1976. There’s a big store where we could buy Vietnamese signature clothes or handycrafts and we also see how they made it. It is part of their tourism strategy to encourage the tourists to help them by buying the handycrafts. After that, we’re heading to Cu Chi Tunnel.

Quoting from wikitravel.org, “Cu Chi Tunnels are an elaborate underground community made up of 250 km of tunnels and chambers below the city. The tunnels were dug with simple tools and bare hands during the French occupation in the 1940s, and further expanded during the Vietnam War in the 1960s to provide refuge and a defensive advantage over the American soldiers. Despite all the bombings in their town, the Cu Chi people were able to continue their lives beneath the soil, where they slept, ate, planned attacks, healed their sick, and taught their young. Some even wed and gave birth underground, but over 10,000 lost their lives here.” I think this is a very interesting historical site. With the explanation from the tour guide we explored the site for a few hours. We’ve seen different types of trap, self made weapon and even we crawled into the tunnel for a few minutes, it was such a crazy experience!

Meskipun Indonesia dan Vietnam sama-sama mengalami masa penjajahan pada jaman dulu kala, tapi di Indonesia ga ada terowongan bawah tanah macam begini. Ga kebayang gimana perjuangan mereka dulu tinggal di tempat kaya gitu. Asli, terowongannya sempit banget, bahkan untuk ukuran orang Asia aja terbilang sempit, apalagi untuk ukuran bule-bule non Asia. Jalannya mesti jongkok, kebayang pegelnya kaya apa kalo harus menelusuri terowongan yang super panjang itu. Bisa juga sambil agak membungkuk membentuk sudut 90 derajat (kaya lagi posisi ruku saat shalat) untuk beberapa area, tapi mostly sih harus jalan jongkok. Yang pasti ga bisa berdiri. Kalau liat petanya, memang ada spot dimana bisa berdiri tapi kita ga mengeksplor sampe segitunya. Ngelewatin jalur terpendeknya dalam waktu kurang dari 5 menit aja udah menggila. Panasnya luar biasa loh di bawah tanah itu! Apalagi pas kita masuk barengan satu rombongan, jadinya saling berebut oksigen. If you are a claustrophobic, don’t ever try get into the tunnel. Tapi seru sih, keluar dari tunnel jadi lebih mensyukuri betapa nikmatnya bisa menghirup udara bebas sambil posisi badan tegak. *religious mode: on 🙂

After exploring the tunnel area, the tour guide bring us to the shooting range area. Ini dia bagian paling serunya! Anyone can shoot! It’s very very loud so we have to wear the earphone. This is my first time touching and using AK-47, it’s heavy but it’s very exciting. Awalnya kita ga mau, tapi kapan lagi bisa cobain tembak-tembakan pake AK-47, akhirnya kita patungan sama turis lainnya biar ga terlalu mahal. Itungan mereka per 10 peluru, terserah mau dipake berapa orang. Karena suasanyanya chaos dan terburu-buru (disertai bunyi tembakan yang non stop), jadinya kerasa bentar banget. Boro-boro mau fokus sama targetnya, begitu megang buru-buru disuruh nembak. But it was fun, though. Tadinya sih pengen foto-foto lebih lama pake AK-47, biar disangka lagi latihan jadi teroris, haha, tapi berhubung banyak yang antri jadi foto seadanya aja deh.

Since it’s a half day tour, so around noon our bus were heading back to the hotel. Then we’re continue to visit Ben Thanh Market, one of the oldest marketplace in HCM. It’s a very big place, has multiple entrance. You can find a lot of things to buy for “Oleh-oleh” in here. Bargaining is a must! But be careful, once you ask the price you have to mean it, you have to bargain and if you both agreed on a price you have to buy it. Jadi jangan cuma basa basi nanya harga tanpa bener-bener berniat untuk beli barang tersebut. Once I asked the t-shirt price (only want to know the range of price) then when she mention the number I only said “Oh, thank you” and then leave. A few second later, she’s chasing me then got angry, grumbling in high speed Vietnamese language a.k.a ngomel-ngomel, yang kalo diartiin kira-kira “Kalau ga niat beli, ga usah nanya harga”, ” If you don’t really want to buy it, don’t bother asking the price”. Ok, lesson learned. Maybe not all of the seller have the same attitude, but you better be more careful.

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Ben Thanh Market

After that, we went to Cathedral Notredam and Post Office in the same area. Based on my research, not many places to go in HCM (not that I interested in), so we choose these places to go to at that time only for photo shoot purpose. 🙂 On the way to Cathedral, we passed the park which has sports equipment which everyone can use it. It similar to the park in Bandung nowadays. HCM already has it since 2012 🙂

 

Day 3

It’s time to fly to Hanoi!

Kenapa mesti naik pesawat? Kenapa ga jalan darat aja? Kita juga pengennya jalan darat biar bisa menikmati perjalanan tapi pas kita cari tau how long the journey will be, turns out it took 3 days for one way trip! So it means, 6 days for the journey only..it is cheaper but we don’t have much time..kebayang capenya kaya apa 3 hari di bus, badan udah ringsek duluan pastinya.

Kok bisa sampe 3 hari sih perjalanan darat dari HCM ke Hanoi? itu karena Vietnam luas banget daratannya..infrastrukturnya pun belum canggih. Sama aja kaya kalo di Indonesia mau menyusuri pulau Sumatera dari ujung ke ujung kan pasti ngabisin waktu berhari-hari. Begitu pula jarak HCM dan Hanoi.

Kenapa ga beli tiket pesawat dengan jurusan JKT-HCM-Hanoi-JKT biar ga bolak balik? Ya itu karena penyakit kita yang ngebet beli tiket duluan kemudian baru bikin itinerarynya. Di tengah-tengah mencari ilham untuk itinerary baru nemu ide kalo kita harus ke Hanoi, whatever it takes. Biarpun mesti ngeluarin budget tambahan yang penting bisa touch down di Hanoi.

Emang ada apa di Hanoi, sampe segitunya mesti kesana? Tujuan kita cuma satu, ke H-A-L-O-N-G-B-A-Y, yup Ha Long Bay!! Quoting from lonelyplanet.com “Halong translates as ‘where the dragon descends into the sea’ and legend tells that this mystical seascape was created when a great mountain dragon charged towards the coast, its flailing tail gouging out valleys and crevasses. As the creature plunged into the sea, the area filled with water leaving only the pinnacles visible. The geological explanation of karst erosion may be more prosaic, but doesn’t make this seascape any less poetic. Designated a World Heritage site in 1994, Halong Bay’s spectacular scatter of islands, dotted with wind- and wave-eroded grottoes, is a vision of ethereal beauty and, unsurprisingly, northern Vietnam’s number one tourism hub. ”
Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/vietnam/northeast-vietnam/halong-bay/introduction#ixzz4BLbuLDTH

So, di hari ketiga kita terbang ke Hanoi pake Vietjet Airlines. Karena cuma 2 malem, kita cuma bawa perlengkapan seperlunya dan sisa koper kita titipin di hotel. Tentunya, barang yang ga boleh ketinggalan adalah t-r-i-p-o-d. When we’re using Air Asia from JKT to HCM, we’re allowed to bring the tripod into the cabin. Unfortunately Vietjet Airlines didn’t allow me to bring it to the cabin. They said it’s too big. It’s exceeding their limit. Padahal itu tripodnya kecil lho, cuma sekitar 60 cm panjangnya, mereka bilang harus masuk bagasi. Huft, menyebalkan. Udah coba beragumen pun mereka masih keukeuh ga bolehin kita masuk. Terpaksa deh jadi beli bagasi minimum daripada ga jadi ke Hanoi. Kalo barangnya bukan tripod, mungkin udah kita tinggalin aja di bandara, ga usah dibawa terbang. Tapi apa jadinya trip kita tanpa tripod. Maklum, saat itu belum musim tongsis dan action cam mini.

Begitu touch down Hanoi, kita udah dijemput sama orang hotel Hanoi Style. Ini additional services sih, di luar harga kamar yang kita booking. Untuk memudahkan dan ternyata jarak airport ke hotelnya lumayan jauh, sekitar 40 menitan. Hotelnya pun ternyata lumayan bagus walau tema dekorasinya terbilang klasik. TV nya masih bentuk tabung, begitu juga dengan monitor komputernya. Ceritanya sih untuk mendukung para pebisnis kali yah kalo nginep disini masih bisa kerja. Tapi berhubung kita ga pake, we don’t have any complain about it.

Sambil killing time, kita jalan-jalan di area hotel. Jalanannya mirip kaya Kuta Bali, bukan jalan besar tapi kanan kirinya banyak toko jualan macem-macem juga banyak tempat makan. Entah yang mana yang halal, tapi bismillah aja, hehe. Kita sih milihnya di restoran vegan karena kita pikir lebih aman. Sore-sore saat matahari masih terik, minum air kelapa emang pas banget. Apalagi sambil nyemil ini itu dan juga makan nasi goreng yang porsinya banyak banget. Udah murah, porsinya banyak. I love it! 🙂

Setelah makan, kita jalan-jalan ke danau masih di area deket situ. Ada templenya juga, entah apa namanya. Seru juga banyak ruang terbuka tengah kota dimana orang-orang bisa interaksi satu sama lain. Walau cuacanya panas tapi banyak angin jadi ga terlalu panas. Sore-sore duduk-duduk di pinggir danau juga seru. Ngeliatin orang-orang disana dan ga lupa juga kita foto-foto 🙂 Sebelum terlalu malem, kita balik ke hotel, istirahat, siap-siap buat adventure besoknya. Good night!

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VietCam Expenses
Expenses per person
itinerary vc
Itinerary 9D Vietnam-Cambodia

 

 

 

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