Friday, 5 September 2014

Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Cantho

Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Cantho

I'm back from the short holiday overseas! It was a fun trip filled with lots of eating and now I'm awfully tired and restless, having just returned last Sunday on a morning flight and then returning back to work the next day. I do miss the heat as the start of Spring here has been too cold.

I love being in Singapore and will never get enough of it. I truly wish I could work and live there one day as everything about the country is great and the reasons have been mentioned in one of my previous posts. There is always something new to see or try. The thing that brings me back time and time again is the food. Cheap and delicious.

A must see attraction in Singapore is 'Gardens by the Bay'. It's the most beautiful garden I've ever seen in my entire life and the sheer size of it is mind boggling. Huge! This was my second time there and I still enjoyed it as much as the first time around. Entry (SGD 28.00) for an adult includes access to two conservatories, the 'Flower Dome' and 'Cloud Forest'.

They occasionally change the themes and we were lucky to see the Orchid Extravaganza floral display. Just beautiful.

A one and an half hour flight from Singapore takes us to Ho Chi Minh City in South Vietnam.

Some regions in South Vietnam have changed drastically whereas some areas haven't really changed much at all. The last time I went to Vietnam was in 2002 which is a long time. The country is well known for its cheap food. In comparison to the prices in Australia, it is much lower but I wouldn't say it's extremely cheap. The prices have gone up but that is expected in a rapidly growing country. You're pretty much paying similar prices to what you would pay for hawker food in Singapore.

Crossing the streets in Saigon can be quite stressful. Motorbikes and cars are everywhere and going from one side to the other can be a daunting experience given that people do not follow road rules and traffic signals. Motorbikes weave through other bikes and cars which makes sitting in the car quite a nervous experience. One tip that was passed on from my friend is that it is best to go as a group or follow others when crossing and that indeed was helpful. This photo was taken in the early morning, hence the lack of cars and motorbikes.

One must visit attraction in Ho Chi Minh City is the 'Saigon Skydeck' or otherwise also known as the 'Bitexco Financial Tower'. First opening to visitors in 2011, this building stands 262 metres tall and gives a 360 degree view of the city.

It towers over ever building in Ho Chi Minh City and the view from the top is breathtaking. A ticket for an adult is VND 200,000 which equates to about AUD $10.00. For that price, I recommend you take time to visit this tower as it looks so different from the top. Entry permits you to the observation deck on the 49th floor.

We started the trip in Saigon and stayed there for one night before departing for Cantho. Cantho is the largest city in the Mekong Delta and is approximately a three and an half hour bus ride from Saigon.

The best way to get to the suburbs is via the mini bus or coach services on offer as it's one of the safer and cheaper modes of transportation. Prices will vary depending on where you go but it cost us VND 130,000 which equates to about AUD$6.50 for a trip from Saigon to Cantho. There are currently two companies which I've been told are reliable including Thanh Buoi and Phuong Trang. It was definitely money well spent as the ride was smooth and hassle free.

The reason as to why we went to Cantho is my mum was originally born there. We still have relatives living there so we took this opportunity to visit them, having not seen them in person for over 12 years.

One thing that I noticed that was different from before is the presence of a supermarket. Most people prefer to shop at the supermarket as there is more variety and as my cousin said, you have  the freedom to look at products and walk around freely. This has left the street stalls quieter as less people are buying, which is concerning given families depend on this source of income to survive.

One drink that I had every day whilst staying in Cantho was the 'Vietnamese Iced Coffee - Ca Phe Da (VND 10,000)'. So refreshing and cheap. Their coffee is filtered through a special type of filter which uses a dripping process to extract the coffee from the grinded coffee. It's a slow process and takes longer than an espresso machine but the flavour is absolutely brilliant. It's strong and will wake you up or keep you awake. Do give it a try when you get the chance to.  This type of coffee can be found in Vietnamese grocery stores or cafes located in Bankstown, Cabramatta and Marrickville.

Restaurant food posts with names and addresses to follow shortly.

Gardens by the Bay
18 Marina Gardens Dr
Singapore 018953


Saigon Skydeck
No.2 Hai Trieu Street
Ben Nghe Ward
Ho Chi Minh City


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