|Thien Hau Temple at Chinatown - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam|
The journey continues... After having a delightful local breakfast, we went to Chợ Lớn, area dominated by Chinese – or so called Chinatown. We took a taxi to visit Thiên Hậu Temple or Chùa Bà Thiên Hậu, one of the oldest traditional Chinese Temple in Ho Chi Minh (built in 19th century) to honor the Lady Thien Hau / Lady of the Sea (in Chinese, known as Tian Hou or the Mazu (媽祖)– a very well-known Goddess, believed as a protector of fishermen and sailors and usually worshipped in the coastal regions). The address: 710 Nguyễn Trãi, phường 11, District 5.
The interior was beautiful, very ancient and picturesque, especially the diorama made of porcelain that decorated the roof, surrounding the courtyard, where many spiral incense coils were hung on the ceiling, looked like a very typical old Chinese temple that you could find it elsewhere. You could write your name on the red paper that was attached to each coil. Prayers believed that their prayers and wishes would be conveyed to the deity. Or otherwise you could purchase normal long stick incense and place it on the bronze bowls provided, just like what three of us did. Both had the same purpose and meaning.
|4-Storey house in Cho Lon - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam|
On our way to another temple, we smelled a nice fragrant from a food stall and we saw noodles!!! Oh oh… I was exciting that I finally found yellow noodles in Vietnam (because we always eat rice noodles, white in color, and taste differently). I was asking MG and hubby if they would like to enter, and as usual, they nodded full of agreement.
|Delicious Chinese rice noodles at Cho Lon, Chinatown - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam|
When it came to order, the staff was clueless on what we would like to say hehehe… So I walked and showed her what we wanted by pointing on what a gentleman was eating on his table. However, to my disappointment, the yellow noodles were out of stock – so sad!!! And we had to order kway teow and bee hoon instead. Hiks... Nevertheless, we were still very happy as the taste and fragrant were very nice!!! It reminded me of the noodles tasted back in my father’s hometown. They used the same and very important ingredient in it, which was deep-fried pork oil. Hhhmmm….. I was hymning full of gratitude for letting us trying it there in Vietnam and thinking that my parents would love these if they visited this place one day… :)
|Chùa Quan Âm or Kuan Im Temple - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam|
The Quan Âm Pagoda or Chùa Quan Âm (Avalokiteshvara Pagoda or what I usually called Kwan Im Temple) was located very near from the Thiên Hậu Temple, about 5-minute walk. The pagoda consisted of many praying chambers. You had to go through the altar for Jade Emperor (Tian Gong 天公)and Thiên Hậu (天后)Goddess before finally reached to large courtyard dominated by the s tatue of Quan Âm and many other deities.
|Pond opposite of Chùa Quan Âm or Kuan Im Temple - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam|
Although it’s believed to be the oldest pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City, the place inside had been restored many times by local residents to preserve its architecture, very visible though. I didn’t take photos inside as I preferred not to take photo of the statues as to respect them. But it was very similar with Chinese temples that we had back in Jakarta and other places in Indonesia. There was a garden and artificial pond at the opposite of the temple. In the middle of the pond there was an artificial miniature island with rocky terrain with Kwan Im statue with beautiful background. Looking at the whole place made me again, feeling like at my home sweet home.
As usual, the familiarity and chance to see the Buddha, Kwan Im, Thien Hao, and other deities’ statues filled my heart with happiness and gratitude, as no matter which country I go, they were always be around me, protecting around me invisibly and keeping me safe. Thank you, thank you, and thank you SB! :)
I couldn’t find the big wholesale market that I imagined existing there in Chinatown. I thought the building would be significant around there.
|Road side selling oranges - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam|
|Wet market along the Nguyen Trai Street - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam|
Instead, we walked along the Nguyễn Trãi Street, passing by shops and wet markets. It again reminded me a lot of home. There were areas in Jakarta that look very similar like this. The wet markets were almost the same standard too.
After a while, we decided to take cab and headed to ABC Bakery and Café at 223-225 Phạm Ngũ Lão, District 1, to have our daily dose of Vietnamese coffee :)
|Pho Hoa Pasteur - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam|
|Late lunch crowd at Pho Hoa Pasteur - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam|
Dadadada.... We finally visited one of the best Pho restaurant in Vietnam!!! It's a family owned type, where the family secret broth recipe was passing down from one generation to another. A MUST TRY beef noodle soup located at 260C Pasteur Street, District 1.
We ordered the Cha Gio or spring roll (VND 60,000 or S$3.75 per portion) as appetizer and personally, it becomes the best spring roll I ever had there. The crab meat inside was simply succulent and delicious!!!
|Pho Dac Biet Du Thu or Special Beef Noodle from Pho Hoa Pasteur - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam|
We ordered two bowls of Pho Dac Biet Du Thu (VND 75,000 or S$4.70 per bowl) - the rice noodle soup with all kind of mixed beef inside added with various vegetables, slices of chili, and dash of lime. Hhhmmm...... nyummy!!! The portion was quite big, enough for 3 of us.
|Menu and price list of Pho Hoa Pasteur - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam|
The price was very reasonable too!!! With this quality and portion in Singapore, we might have to pay twice or triple times of the original price in Vietnam. We were wishing to have it again on our last day, however, due to time constraint, we had to give it up!!! :(
After that late lunch, we headed back to hotel. We had a traditional Vietnamese massage appointment at the hotel at 4pm continued with a little rest and last minute shopping before we headed for our river cruise dinner.
At US$50/pax we booked it from the travel agent as I was curious on what kind of night scenery we would get from river in Ho Chi Minh. I was imagining that it would be as great as the cruise trip I had in Russia not long ago and also curious on what kind of boat we would take.
|Elisa Floating Restaurant - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam|
No, no, it wasn't our cruise.. not our boat.. which we thought it was. Lol!!! Our boat was parked beside it, called Bonsai River Cruise. It's made of woods, has oriental design. It was full on the first floor deck and empty on the second. They had buffet spread in the middle, mixture of hot and cold appetizers, main course, and desserts.
|Bonsai River Cruise Dinner - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam|
Most of the tables were filled by tourists from the travel agent group and like us, who booked individually. It's around two hours and they had entertainment like interactive dance with guests, live music, even magic.
|Chill and unwind along the river - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam|
The food was good. But what made me disappointed was that there wasn't much scenery to look at and the boat didn't even go a long way. It's almost the same view over and over again, a very short distance and sailed in tortoise speed. Perhaps, they couldn't offer much due to the limitation of the river.
|Ho Chi Minh night view|
Well, at least now I knew how it looked like and what they offered. Never try, never know! But, not very recommended though. With that amount of money, we could perhaps go somewhere else having a nice food with better ambiance. Anyway... that's how we spent our last night in Ho Chi Minh.
Will continue for another day, our last day there... Stay tune!!!
P.S. Read on what we had on day 1 and day 2, Cu Chi Tunnel trip, Goby fish dinner, and beware when you meet coconut seller near the Reunification Palace ;)