Saturday, January 31, 2015

Blind Date With A Book - Sengkang Library

Our visit to Sengkang Library this afternoon was rather special as we found the signage below.

Blind date with a book by Sengkang Library

There were books underneath wrapped with a beautiful gift wrapper and there was a hint on top of the wrapper to tell what kind of story the book inside filled with. It could be romance, thriller, horror, mystery, sci-fi, or fantasy.

Pick me up!!! - Blind date with a book! :)

These were what being written on the board:

"Feeling adventurous this Valentine's Day? 
Check out our new display full of wrapped 'presents' and go on a blind date with a new book! 

1. Pick the mystery 'present' that appeals to you! 
2. Borrow it (still wrapped) as usual at our borrowing stations. 
3. Unwrap and see what adult fiction novel it contains. 
4. Enjoy your blind date! :*)
5. Return via the bookdrop as usual"

Haha... It's interesting and creative, wasn't it? Very great idea!! I picked two books that I was curious about while my son followed me picking one ;)

Before :)

After!!! My blind dates for Valentine's Day ;)

Dadadada.... There they are!!! Well, let's see! Just hope that they won't disappoint me!!! ;)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ho Chi Minh Itinerary 4D3N – Day 2 Eat, Eat, and Eat :)

Chào buổi sang!!! It means ‘Good Morning’ in Vietnamese language :)

On second day we planned to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels by joining the tour and had to depart at 8 am from our hotel. Since our hotel booking wasn’t included breakfast (as our intention to try the local food nearby), we woke up and got ourselves ready a bit early in order to find and eat breakfast before leaving.

We looked around at the Café nearby and found all of them were still closed. The Café that I planned to visit earlier was a bit distant from our hotel and there was a construction that blocked our way there. Therefore we decided to look around at nearby area for food street seller.

We crossed the road finding any sign of food seller and saw one selling Bánh mì. Bánh mì refers to any kind of bread. However, as Vietnam was colonized by French before, the French had long ago introduced their own bread, specifically baguette to Vietnamese.

I suddenly remembered my sister-in-law advice before flying to Ho Chi Minh. She asked me to try the baguette there. She said that any kind of baguette there (no matter which stall) was very nice and I should try!!! Hm.. I was wondering if what she said was true. So, we decided to order one first (in case if it wasn’t nice, we could find other food).

Bánh mì seller at road side - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

The seller was very nice. Upon seeing us, he cut few pieces of roasted pork (especially crispy layer part) and handed it in for us to try. My friend, MG, who tasted it first, was immediately shouting to me to order 3 instead of only 1 or 2. She told me excitedly on how nice the baguette was!!

Looking at her excitement, I decided to take a bite on her bread and, wow!! It tasted very very very nice!!! The baguette was crispy and not soggy or hard like what we usually bought here in Singapore. The roasted meat was tasty, the accompanying vegetables were fresh, and the sauce tasted delicious!! As per her advice, I ordered two more so that each of us could eat one piece each :) And it was very cheap too!!! It cost only VND 15,000 each (less than S$1)!!! In addition, you could choose few different types of fillings for your Bánh mì. The most common ones were: crispy roasted pork belly, ham and pork roll, two fried eggs, fried fish cake, and so on. So, when you go there, make sure you eat this!!!

Porridge seller on the road side - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

We munched the bread on the roadside. While eating, we saw other sellers selling porridge, Vietnamese style noodle, and something else with soup. They catered not only to the construction workers or other people who were working nearby the area, but also many people stopped their bikes in front of the carts, bought their food takeaway. The business was not bad.

Eating like local at the road side ^^

Since we had already had a baguette each, the noodle seemed too heavy for us. Therefore, porridge would be a better choice to try. I asked the porridge seller how much it cost. With limited language, the seller said VND 10,000 (S$0.625) per bowl. Wow!!! Without much thinking, we ordered one bowl, again, to try it first.

Delicious pork porridge for breakfast - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

The porridge was not just a plain one. They added some pork parts such as: liver, intestines, and few cuts of you tiao (Chinese fried breadstick) or dầu cháo quẩy (similar what we called here in Singapore, You Char Kway). And the porridge tasted really really good!!! In Singapore, we had to pay S$3 to S$5 for a bowl of pork porridge, depending where you buy. It means 1 bowl of porridge in Singapore, you can buy 5 bowls in Ho Chi Minh! You can imagine how expensive the living standard in Singapore is with this comparison alone!!!

Oohh… Three of us were very satisfied with our local breakfast and by the time we finished our meal, we were ready to leave for our tour. Please read more about the details of the Cu Chi Tunnels tour here :)

By the time we came back to hotel, it was 1 pm. We were all hungry. There were plenty of food list that we all had to try and I decided to try the local dish called broken rice (Com Tam) from food chain called Com Tam Cali. The night before my sister-in-law showed us the photo and she too recommended us to eat.

We took a cab there. In my list, the address was 35 Le Thanh Ton Street, District 1. The taxi driver dropped us near to a shopping mall called Parkson Saigon. But we couldn’t find any store beside it. I thought I jotted down the wrong address as when I asked around, many of them had no idea where the place was, until a local passer-by helped us asking another person and told us that the food chain might be located inside the mall, at the food court. We followed her advice and walked to the mall and looked for the food court.

Cơm Tấm Cali Đặc Biệt 6 Món or Cali special broken rice – 6 flavors 

Hohoho… We relieved when looking at the signage that we were looking inside the food court. But too bad, the choices were rather limited than the usual restaurant’s menu. When we ordered their special dish - Cơm Tấm Cali Đặc Biệt 7 Món or Cali special broken rice – 7 flavors (cost VND 65,000/portion), the seller told me that they had only left with 6 flavors. We had no choice but to accept it.

Nem nướng cuốn or grilled pork spring rolls

Chả giò or egg rolls

We ordered Sườn Cốt Lết Nướng or house special BBQ pork (cost VND 44,000/portion), Nem nướng cuốn or grilled pork spring rolls (cost VND 32,000/portion), Chả giò or egg rolls (cost VND 18,000/2 rolls), and a local drink for MG. Eih, we were quite surprised to see the portion. The photo that my sister-in-law took was looked like a big portion. But in real, it wasn’t.

Sườn Cốt Lết Nướng or house special BBQ pork and 'cireng' filled with prawn :D

Steamed pork paste - Vietnam dish

MG went to the next door stall and ordered some other local dishes that we never tried before. Couldn’t remember the name but it tasted like ‘cireng’ or deep fried rice flour filled with prawn and dipped into a sauce, and a steamed pork paste wrapped with banana leaf, which tasted a bit unusual.

Phở Ngoon at Parkson Saigon

I saw Pho shop called Phở Ngoon in the food court and asked my hubby and MG whether their stomachs were still available for some Pho. Because Pho was the MUST HAVE food when you visit Vietnam. It’d already been day 2, but we still hadn’t tasted any Pho yet. So, although their stomach had already been half full, they both were agreeing to my suggestion.

Phở Đặc Biệt and Pho with Beef Ball - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Therefore, I ordered two bowls of it: Phở Đặc Biệt – Pho special with beef (all in one) and the normal beef Pho with additional beef ball soup. Hehehe.. What an appetite we had!!! :D

Trio Coffee at Highland Cafe Parkson Saigon

And we didn’t stop there. Hahaha….. Since we were all just coming back from the Cu Chi tour, crawling inside the tunnel and walking a distance to see different things they’d shown, we became sleepy and tired. We ended up moving to the next door – a local coffee joint called Highland Café - to have a cup of Vietnamese coffee :) As the photo above shown, we ordered trio coffee for three of us ;)

We went back to the hotel after a heavy lunch. We took a look at the swimming pool at the rooftop. MG asked me to look at the Spa menu. The price was quite ok so we decided to book a traditional Vietnamese spa for the next day. Then we just went back to our room and took a rest.

Lẩu cá kèo at 87 Bà Huyện Thanh Quan, Quận 3

In evening we went to Lẩu cá kèo at 87 Bà Huyện Thanh Quan, Quận 3 to taste the hotpot and grilled Ca Keo or Goby Fish. Read more details story here.

Bánh bía - Vietnamese pastry

After dinner we headed to Bến Thành Market, a large market in central Ho Chi Minh. We bought the Vietnamese pastry called Bánh bía – looked a bit like mooncake with fillings of durian and salted egg yolk. We opened one for tasting and it tasted good. Only then, we proceeded to buy few more packets as gifts back home :)

Glutinous rice seller at Bến Thành Market

After that we had a stroll in the night market. Many things were sold there, mostly souvenirs, t-shirts, branded ‘fake and cheap’ stuffs like the North Face big backpack (bargained as low as VND 270,000 – around US$13), etc. I didn’t take any photo there as I was busy holding my bag tight, afraid to experience any pickpocket in such crowded place. Lol! Thereafter we walked back to the hotel and had a rest again at night.

It’s more like ‘Wisata Kuliner’ in Indonesian or Culinary tour for the day 2 experience. Hehehe… After all, travelling would include learning about the local food and culture too mah? Let’s wait for our 3rd day itinerary in Ho Chi Minh!!! To be continue… ;)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Happiness and Positivity Video

I share with you the video above. Hope you enjoy and you too can be that one positive and happy person that can being the change to others :)

Here is the link of the article that relates to the above video for your reading pleasure :)

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Very Inspiring Blog Award

Very Inspiring Blogger Award - Pic source:

Thank you very much Dumcho WangdiAmrith SubbaKipchu NamgyelSonam Tenzin, Karma Wangzom, Sangay Cholden Duba, Rupa Gurungand Tshering Om for nominating me the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! :) I am very grateful being inside your lists and I hope I have been some source of inspiration into your real life ^^

For those who heard about the award for the very first time, the Very Inspiring Blog Award is an award to recognize other blogger for being such an inspiration. And in order for the person to accept the award, there are few rules to follow:

1. Thank and link the amazing person who nominated you
2. List the rules and display the Award on your blog
3. Say 7 facts about yourself
4. Nominate other 15 amazing bloggers for the award, link them and inform them about the nominations

Below are the 7 facts about myself (that you might or might not know about it before), which made me thinking out loud and squeezing my brain juice out!!! :P

1. After traveling to other country, I will download the song from or related to the country that I hear during traveling time into my mobile phone, turn it on and on, sing it loud and dance with it (usually inside the toilet) until I get bored and tired of it, then move on to another new song.

2. I can only cook few International dishes such as: Spaghetti Bolognaise, Japanese curry rice, wok fried ee-fu noodles, etc. and not a single local Indonesian dish!

3. I went one big round studying other subjects such as:  other languages and hotel management (avoiding those related to accounting or finance as I thought my three elder siblings had enough of it) but at the end I still ended up working in that department, even until now.

4. I prefer spending most of my weekend at home reading book, drinking afternoon tea, watching online movie/drama, sleeping, etc. Gone are the days asking my hubby out for window shopping! Perhaps with more age I have, I prefer to have a quieter and alone time.

5. I love traveling within a small group of people where I lead and plan where to go, what to do, while the rest just follow on my plan! Not because I’m selfish, but because I know what I want! But sometimes it’s good too just to follow what others have planned for me, especially where the place is unreachable on foot and the language is not something that I am familiar with.

6. I had a great and memorable childhood which I spent most of my time playing with my siblings, cousin and neighbors. Playing traditional and detective games, running around, cooking fake dishes using ingredients from soil and trees, climbing out staircase, fence and trees, cycling and being chased by the stray dogs on the street, and so on were the things I miss the most!!!

7. It takes me a life time to learn more about how to overcome the life journey. I started it off from the Buddhist teaching and meditation as the basic principles. I learn a lot of real things and happenings from friendship and love relationship. The bad experience made me a stronger person. Only few years ago I started realizing the importance of quotes and positive thinking in my life. The self-motivations are mostly coming from within. But loves and supports from outside has tremendously given me a strength to carry on.

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading it and by now you have known something more about me. Now I would like to nominate the following bloggers for the Very Inspiring Blog award:

1. Passu Diary
2. Amrith Bdr Subba’s Diary
3. Thoughts and Work
4. Let’s Grow Together
5. Kipchu’s Stuffs…
6. My Bizarre World
7. Happiness is Where You Find It
8. Colour Your Life with Crayons
9. Journey with Choki G 
10. The Country Girl’s Diary 
11. Thoughts of Jigme Zangpo
12. Pelmo’s Journal
13. The Abyss of Freedom
14. A Ray of Hope
15. It’s Raining Worlds

There are some that I didn’t put into the list as they have been nominated by Dumcho :) So, please accept the award by following the rules above and wish all of you a wonderful week ahead!!! ^^

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ho Chi Minh Itinerary 4D3N – Day 1 Ho Chi Minh City

Although I spent most of my living years in South East Asia region, it was my first time visiting Vietnam. I saw some of my friends posting their photos in Instagram, those taken there in Ho Chi Minh City (previously named Saigon), and the cheap airline ticket promotion by those budget airlines made me wanting to visit it badly. But traveling alone wouldn’t be fun. Therefore, since months ago, I was asking around if there was anyone wanting to go together and if they were free.

Luck was on my side when my ex-school mate cum former roommate told me that she was interested to visit the country and would be free on the dates proposed. Yayyyyy!!! Finally I found someone to go together!!! We immediately purchased the tickets and booked the hotel room. I was asking my friend for advice and recommendation too on where to stay and place to eat. And just a week before departure, my hubby decided to join us too after knowing that his sister and her friends would be going too. So, after a long waiting, we were finally there!!! :)
Ho Chi Minh is the largest and busiest city in Vietnam located at the southeastern part of the region. It has more than 9 million people. It covers up to Cu Chi District and down to Can Gio, eastern to Long Binh ward, District 9, and west to Binh Chanh District. District 1 is the city’s central district. Many consulates and historical sights are located here. And that is where we stayed most of the time.

Landed at Tan Son Nhat International Airport - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

January is a good month for traveling as the weather is not so hot and most importantly, dry. We flew using a morning flight and took us about 1.5 hours from Singapore to Tan Son Nhat International Airport. The airport was opened in 2007, still looked new and bright.

Vinasun - 5 and 7 seater available - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

We took ‘Vinasun’ cab traveling within the city. It’s the more reliable and recommended cab that used meter all the time. However, some drivers were not so honest bringing us to longer journey although we could actually take the shorter ones. But the fare was rather affordable (short journey cost about 25,000 to 40,000 VND or US$1-2 and longer one – just like from Airport to our hotel in District 1 – was about 150,000 VND or US$7.5).

Once we checked in and left our luggage there, we booked some tour from our hotel’s tour representative. It’s kind of tricky that there wasn’t price tag on their tour package list. As first-timer we just took whatever prices that the lady offered to us and only days later we found out that we were overcharged.

Once settled, we were all quite hungry and took cab to our first destination for lunch: Quán Nem at 15E Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, P. Bến Nghé, Quận 1. Oh, btw, the number of the shop/house there was followed by alphabet from A to don’t know what, e.g. 15A, 15B to 15H, etc. So, make sure you get the right address with exact number when locate the place to your Taxi driver. Luckily I did a vast research before going there by finding out the location, printing the map out, locating the places we wanted to go on the map, getting the exact address, and so on, which made us easier to go around :)

Back to Quán Nem, this restaurant was rated by CNN as a place that served the best spring roll – a square shape deep fried spring roll filled with crab meat. We were shocked when looked at their menu. They only served two types of food: Cha Gio, the Crab meat spring roll, and Bun Chan, the vermicelli eaten with grilled pork and veggies, topped with Nuoc Cham (dipping sauce). We only ordered one each as we had no idea how big the spring roll is and how much pork and vermicelli served per portion. Also, we wanted to save our stomach for other kind of food :D

Our first lunch at Quan Nem - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

My friend, Arlene, recommended me this place. The place was quite packed with lunch crowd. We started our meal with Bun Chan. Three of us were quite unfamiliar with Vietnamese food, and seldom had a chance to eat other varieties than the common ones like Pho (beef kway teow soup) and spring roll. So, before starting, we turned our heads left and right spying around on how we supposed to eat it. Hehehe… Very suaku lah!!! :P

We finalized the steps as per follow: First, pinch some vermicelli using chop stick into the small bowl. Add some vegetable – since there are so many varieties of vegetables, just added whatever you like. Add the piece of pork meat and pour some sauce with pickles onto it. Voila!!! Ready to eat!!!

The spring roll came quite late as it had to be served fresh from the deep fryer. The server came to our table and cut it into four. Quite a challenge to eat it for three of us hahaha… Hm.. the square shape was quite special though as I imagined the spring roll to be a slim and long cylinder shape. It’s quite oily and the taste was okay only. However the pork served in Bun Chan was delicious!!! And we were kind of regret for only ordering one portion because after looking around, we realized that 1 person supposed to eat one portion and not one portion for 3 hungry persons like us hehehe… :D

We left the place with full stomach though (thanks to the Vermicelli) and decided to start browsing the Reunification Palace. Walking around would be great no? To digest the food faster hehe…

The Reunification Palace - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Once we stepped out from our Taxi in front of the Reunification Palace, we found out that the place was closed. No one was inside. That’s how the cheating story happened right on our first day there. Read the story here 
War Remnants Museum - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

So, while waiting for it to be opened, I remembered that there was a nice recommended Café nearby the area. We walked there, located just beside the park in front of the Reunification Palace and very close to Notre Dame Basilica Cathedral

At the Park opposite the Reunification Palace - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

It’s a great place to chill and relax. We sat outdoor enjoying the greeneries in front of us, at the same time looking out for the passing by street vendors, while some people came offering my hubby to polish his sandals. Sandals?? Polish?? :P

Creperie and Cafe - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Coffee break at Creperie and Cafe - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Vietnamese Hot Coffee - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

  The journey to Vietnam would never complete without drinking its coffee!!! It’s a MUST HAVE thing when you travel there. So we ordered Vietnam Coffee to our liking. Hubby loves hot coffee with no milk. My friend, MG loves iced coffee with no milk, and as for myself, I prefer iced coffee with milk. So, through our journey we chose these three types of coffee for three of us :)

Banana Flambe Crepe @Creperie and Cafe - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

We ordered a plate of Banana flambé crepe too as a dessert. Although I expected there would be flame on my banana crepe (like what we did during school time serving our guest in front of us), unfortunately there wasn’t any. It’s just a normal crepes served with banana, syrup, and ice cream.
Reunification Palace Map - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

So, we ate, drink, and ate, and enjoyed until the Reunification Palace was opened. The ticket cost us 30,000 VND per person. We browsed around the area ourselves. You can read more about it here.  

Conference Hall inside the Reunification Palace - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Presidential Reception Room inside the Reunification Palace - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Game Room inside the Reunification Palace - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Helipad at the Reunification Palace - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

My favorite collection from the Reunification Palace - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

The decorations, furniture, designs shown really reminisced us into the past. What used to be luxury things almost fifty years ago looked very outdated in modern world. However, it was still a great collections and worth to visit.

Side view of Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

 From there, we walked to Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral, a famous and historical church constructed between 1877 and 1883 by French. There were visiting hours from Monday to Saturday: from 8am to 10.30am and from 3pm to 4pm. Therefore, we were very lucky when reaching the church at 3pm (we weren’t aware about the opening hour before visiting). 

Wedding ceremony going on inside Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Moreover, there was a wedding ceremony going on so that we could see how it looked like :) The interior was very beautiful. The original building materials were imported from France. Reminded me a lot of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris ^^

Surrounded by beautiful Vietnamese ladies :)

When we were in front of the church, we also found a group of beautiful Vietnamese girls taking photos with flowers on their hands. We ended up taking photo together as a souvenir hehehe…

Saigon Central Post Office - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

On the right side of the church, there was a very classic old building, yellow bright in color. At first my hubby thought it was a railway station, but later found out to be a Saigon Central Post Office.  We went inside and found a beautiful architectural design. At the left and right after entrance, there were souvenir shops for you to browse. I loved the place so much! I bought few post cards and stamps to send to my loved ones :)

Beautiful pictures on road side on our way to Hard Rock Cafe - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Before going back to hotel, we passed by Hard Rock Café shop at  39 Lê Duẩn, Bến Nghé, Quận 1 –near Intercontinental Hotel, buying a souvenir for myself ^^

Golden Dragon Theater - Vietnamese Water Puppetry - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

At 5pm we headed to Golden Dragon Theater at 55B Nguyen Thi Minh Khai St., Dist. 1 to watch the Vietnamese cultural heritage art show, Water Puppetry. They have two shows per day: 5pm and 6.30pm. We were overcharged by the tour agent paying VND 160,000 per pax while my sister-in-law bought it only at VND 90,000.

Inside the Golden Dragon Theater - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

The theater was not big and very old. Somehow I felt a bit eerie but tried hard to ignore. We were seated at the most back row and only three of us sitting there. 

Water Puppet Performance @Golden Dragon Theater - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Despite those feelings, we felt grateful by being able to watch it ourselves there (not only in front of TV). In fact, we felt amazed by it! The colorful lightings, the live singing, sounding, and music played by multi-task players at both side of the water, the various puppets shown during the 50-minutes show and played by very talented artists behind the curtains, the money we paid for was so much worth it! Only too bad all the conversation and song was in Vietnamese language and we had no clue on what they were talking about. If there was a display of the translated words in English or Chinese (like what other theater/establishment do), it would be very much better!
When you are in Vietnam, do like what Vietnamese does :)

We went back to hotel after the show. Oh oh, I started feeling hungry. We had a dinner appointment at 8 but it was only 6 pm plus. As the sky started turning into the dark, we decided to walk around our hotel looking for some food street seller. When we almost gave up, suddenly I saw many people sitting in a row on roadside holding a bowl of noodle, and ate happily. To their opposite, there was a lady sitting down and cooking her dish. I didn’t know how it was called but it looked delicious. We ordered one bowl to try. However, upon first few spoons of trying, my hubby and friend had already screamed asking for more. Hahaha… We ended up ordering the second bowl and sat using a small plastic stool near the seller, slurping all the soup and noodles out from the bowl satisfyingly: D

Seafood Dinner at District 7 - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

At 8pm, my sister-in-law and her friends fetched us by Taxi to Nha Hang Restaurant at 46/11 bis Nguyễn Văn Linh - District 7 to eat seafood for dinner. There, we met Lone for the first time. He ordered clay pot clam cooked with lemongrass, boiled vegetables dipped with pork oil and chili, steamed red snapper, fried chicken, and grilled prawns, ate it without rice, and accompanied with Bia Saigon, the local Saigon beer. We ate until very full and finished everything as it tasted delicious. That’s how our first day ended. Didn’t realize that we visited many places and tried so much food around. Ooh… that’s what travel should be!!! Stay tune for my Day 2 Itinerary and read about our trip to Cu Chi Tunnels plus our Ca Keo or Goby fish dinner…. ;)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Dusty Sneakers: Kisah Kawan Di Ujung Sana

The Dusty Sneakers Review

My bestie, Celipu, lent me this book almost two months ago and I managed reading it this month only. It’s an Indonesian story book written by a Balinese man, Teddy W. Kusuma (his role as Twosocks in this book) and a Chinese Indonesian from Jakarta, Maesy Ang (her role as Gypsytoes). Find out more about the two authors here. They wrote a blog too (in bilingual languages: English and Indonesian language) that depicted their activities in their lives.

The book was written in Indonesian language, which I personally found the language they used was very formal and polite. There was a word that I kept wondering what it meant “surel”. After few chapters only I realized that it meant “email”. Hehehe… They both can write and speak English and somehow I wonder if they have any plan to translate this book into other languages. Go International, that’s what I thought!!! :)

Just like any other writers, they both like to write and read, also traveling! That’s what the book was about! Both of them took turn in writing their traveling stories. Gypsytoes wrote about her traveling journey when she was studying in Amsterdam while Twosocks wrote his stories when he traveled around Indonesia, and once they met up in Bangalore in India, when Gypsytoes had to travel there to do some research for her thesis.

Other than traveling stories, they also wrote about their hometown in Indonesia. As said above, they both came from different places: Twosocks was from Singaraja, Bali, while Gypsytoes was from North Jakarta. Different background, but they both shared the same passion: drinking tea, talking about book, traveling, etc.

It’s light and refreshing stories. Somehow, it’s just like sharing your travel experience with your loved ones when you both were separated. Not very details information about each destination that they went to, but it gave us some knowledge about the places they’d been to. Their friendship were so sweet and Twosocks’ story and language was sometimes funny and naïve. Very nostalgic, indeed!!! :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam

MUST VISIT!!! - Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam

It’s the only destination that I thought I must visit during my stay in Ho Chi Minh. I heard about it before and often saw the photos where people’s head coming out from a small underground hole. I was wondering how small the hole inside the tunnels look like, whether I could fit into it, or whether I dared enough to go through it, etc.

We booked a tour through travel agent from our hotel once we arrived. We found out few days later that it cost us a bomb at rate of US$40/pax for Classic Cu Chi Tunnels half-day tour, while others could offer us as cheap as US$10/pax.

How they dug the tunnels - Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam

We departed the next day at 8am from our hotel together with 4 other participants. The journey took us about one and a half hours. There were two different sites to experience the tunnels: Ben Duoc – contains part of the original tunnel system, usually visited by Vietnamese, and Ben Dinh – the tunnel had been modified to cater the foreigner’s size and mostly visited by International tourists. Eventually we were brought to Ben Dinh site. Along our way there our tour guide explained to us what the tunnels are about together with the history of the war where the Viet Cong fought in the war using their Guerilla tactics, etc.

Watching the movie before started walking around - Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam

The Cu Chi tunnels were the location of the Vietnam War and the Viet Cong’s base back in 1968. It was about 120km long and as deep as 12 meter underground. The original size was about 60cm width and 80cm height. However, they’ve resized it into 80cm width and 150cm height so that it’s accessible for Western tourist to experience it. They used it as hiding spots, as well as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon storage, and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters to resist from their enemies. Once we entered into the location, we were brought to a place to sit and watch the black and white propaganda movie.
Various booby traps with Punji sticks - Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam

After that we went through a long way road showing many things such as: various tunnels entrance, different types of booby traps with Punji sticks – bamboo and metal spikes (they all looked so scary as their purposes were not to kill the person, but to make the person who was injured to suffer slowly from the metal spikes that pierced through their body parts), a destroyed American tank, mannequin showing the Viet Cong’s uniforms (how they dressed like), etc.

Shooting range in Cu Chi Tunnel, Vietnam

There was a shooting range too where you could have a chance to fire number of assault rifles and light machine gun by paying some additional money (around US$1.20/bullet). Therefore, you could hear some gun shots while you were there, which made the war environment seemed to be alive! :)

The exit gate from the tunnels - Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam

After those exhibits, we finally reached to the tunnels site. The tunnels were not for the claustrophobic as it was dark, small, and stuffy. According to our guide, the tunnels that we tried were 100m length and divided into 5 exit holes (1 hole for every 20m). So, if you thought that you had enough or couldn’t accept it anymore, you could anytime go out from your nearest exit hole.

Inside the Cu Chi Tunnels - Vietnam

Three of us tried entering into the tunnels. However, we didn’t finish it into the last exit as the tunnel got tighter and smaller after the 3rd exit. We had to bend down and crawl too as the hole got smaller (not suitable too for those who had a back pain). I had to turn on my phone’s torch light at all times as it was really dark! My friend was almost losing her breath after bending down and crawling through it, and I decided to get out at the 3rd exit door. Wearing the long pants would be recommended as well!

Steamed Tapioca with grated peanut dip served with tea - Cu Chi Tunnels

Once done, we would proceed to place where we could sit, drink a cup of tea, and taste the steamed tapioca dipped into the mixed of grated peanut, sugar and salt. It was the food that usually easily available during war times.

Making dep lop or sandal made of tire rubber - Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam

It’s such a great experience and a MUST VISIT place if you are visiting Ho Chi Minh! Try to find the cheaper tour that provides you with the same thing (transport, guide, and entrance). I heard that the entrance ticket cost less than US$5/pax.

Viet Cong dressing (hat, black and white checker shawl, and sandal made of tire rubber)

Personally, I feel very happy being able to visit this place and learning some history from the Vietnam War and what’s going on around the country from our tour guide. Because all through my life, I’ve only learned about Indonesian history, that’s it. And local people are the best person to tell us their country’s condition, aren’t they?

Another dream came true... :) @Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam

So, finally, I too had a chance to take the photo like the above :)
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