I must admit, I never find anything appealing on Ho Chi Minh City itself. Not a coffee fan and not a fan of Vietnamese food, I decide to put that all aside and take a judgment-free stride into the city, as I have read lots about the French architectural influence and its distinct street food that has Anthony Bourdain coming back for more every time! (despite his love for Char Kuay Teow too, of course)

I didn’t really know a lot of the country, but am familiar with their similar lifestyle with Thai/Cambodian people, which intrigues me as I have always relate to Bangkok (particularly the food, nyum). Seeing this CNY travelling op, I made no further research, book a ticket and took a couple of Earth Heir’s exotic clutches and scarves to snap photo ops with the city’s vintage facades. It is always a shoot trip when you’re with me! 😀

Upon arrival from a 8.50pm flight on Vietnam Airlines, I checked into New World Hotel Saigon, which is only a stone’s throw away from Pham Ngu Lau street; a well-known backpacking district and buzzing with nightlife. Arriving at 11pm Ho Chi Minh time, I didnt get to really observe the bustle that most people talk of, in fact, the streets were empty! Nothing to talk about on the hotel’s interior despite its 5 star hotel status, it reminds me of one from the 80s/90s (hotels, I mean) as I inspected that it was quite an old hotel. Dropped my bags and pack up for a little look-around at Pham Ngu Lau, and was really packed with tourists.

Pham Ngu Lau : The backpacking district.

It is here that I sampled my first Pho, without even blink of thought in my head that its sup might be stocked with PORK! -_- I will give it where credit is due though, the soup was a dream, but nothing to really rave about, perhaps it’s cause I’m not a soup person. Heck, I’m the only Kedahan/Penangite in my family that would not touch Laksa :3 . After sampling my first accidental taste of pork in the year (oh, yes, this happens to be a common occurance -_-) , I headed back to get some rest before the journey around town tomorrow.

 

At about 9 am I was already awake, and hurriedly parted the curtains to witness the crazy traffic situation EVERYONE keeps telling me about, but lo and behold, the streets were empty! Not thinking much of it, I headed downstairs to pack and saw lots of flowers everywhere, particularly chrysanthemums and marigolds and the occasional roses.All placed on their reception and even stores by the streetside had these flowers adorning their steps, what is going on?! Well, turns out I came during Tet, the Vietnamese version of the CNY! everyone was out of town, so no crazy traffic experience for me! (yay?)

With this opportunity, I decide to just embrace it, and headed over to the heart of the city. Took a couple of notable pics from my walkabouts, particularly this building, which was my first site of Colonial architecture.

The People’s Comittee Building

A set that was playing traditional music nearby..

Continuing on foot, I had my eyes peeled with the gorgeous surroundings and cool weather, it was still hot but not as humid as BKK and KL, which I find myself enjoying my strolls. More flowers spotted too! I love Spring time blooms!

(pop-up cards a dollar a pop!)

EMPTY!

At the municipal area, this was shot on a Friday and look at how empty the streets were.

Next on the hit list was a proper Vietnamese coffee experience! I’ve asked the bear an a couple of expats on where to for the best chic coffee fix in the city. I am no fan of coffee unless it is in the form of Tiramisu, but you cant miss out on the epic and much hyped about Vietnamese Iced Coffee! That took me to RuNam cafe!

marigold and peach flowers! <3 In Earth Heir’s boxy top, beaded stones necklace and gold elastic bangles.

Chic, cosy and very sophisticated, the bar really puts most of the coffee cafes in KL down to shame. The interior is lush, and one feels like you are stuck in a modern French cafe. I could resist the snaps!

 

Floor Porn #1

My first proper taste of Vietnamese Coffee was too overpowering and diabetes-inducing for my taste.

Again, don’t take my word for it as I am not a coffee afficionado, but damn it does make up for good pics.

SUGARRUSH!

 

Packed with the sugar rush I have, I went on for more exploring within the city. As the tummy grumbles, I took bear’s suggestion to have a meal at the Refinery, one of the best French eateries in HCM. The decor is very European with brick walls and mosaic tiles and old oak beams. Very homely, cosy and OH SO GOOD FOOD, even felt as if you are in a cafe tucked in Paris, with soft Edith Piaf playing in the background and lots of French people enjoying their holidays (since its Tet and all). I didn’t manage to capture the food photos like I usually would, just thought of taking it easy 🙂

(I will refrain from posting any floor porn pics as of now)

Next stop was to a more sombre location, The War Remnants Museum.

I have read that apart from the tanks and guns (which I have no interest of) , they conduct their set-ups in series of photos captured by notable war photogs, some of which had snagged commendable accolades for their emotional shots. I didnt come emotionally prepared, as I had no clue what to expect. Entering the building, there were hoardes of tourists, primarily Aussies and Americans. I’ve heard that the museum was previously called Museum of American Atrocities of War or something, (correct me if I’m wrong) ,but I guess they changed it to appeal to the masses. So this was no enjoyable visit, but a good reminder on the damages of war. Gripping stuff.

On exhibit are grisly photos; dismembered parts, dead children and weapons that were built to cause the most horrible of deaths. From Agent Orange to nail bombs, this was hard to emotionally swallow. I looked around and I saw disturbed faces with frowns on their foreheads. Some took a long hard look at particular photos, grasping the suffering and hardships locals endured during the occupation of the US army. It was hard to watch, but necessary to reveal the atrocities of war.

Burn All, Kill All policy by the Americans. 🙁 RIP

Despite being heavy to stomach, I would encourage anyone to come and educated and make self aware of what war and hostility could result in. I would advise to lay low on selfies and smiling shots with thumbs up poses in front of tanks, as I witnessed a couple of tourists did. -_-

________________________________________________________________________________

Moving on to a lighter note, I booked over a table at Square One in Park Hyatt which was meant to be a very good restaurant. Heading over to Park Hyatt, which is a 5 star hotel, provides a more contemporary setting and what any modern 5-star hotels look like. It was luxurious and treatment was above par, so naturally I felt very homely and received.

Schmancy. A friend mentioned that the Martini Bar here is rockin!

As I had just booked at 7pm, I returned to the hotel for a change and the obligatory OOTD shot with Earth Heir’s goodies. I headed out to Pham Ngu Lau area again, snapping close shots of the area during the day.

 

 

One thing noticed was that there are loads of roadside bookstores on dead cheap prices, fiction lovers would absolutely DIE in book heaven here.

 

First OOTD of the day

Earth Heir top, necklace and bangle. Bag from Aldo, shades from Fendi.

 

Back at the hotel, I changed to my next Earth Heir concoction, as there are scarves and necklaces left, I came up with a way to style the scarf as a skirt. 🙂

Loving it! In Earth Heir choker, scarf and clutch. Heels by ZARA, sunglasses by Fendi.

Moving over to Square One, and enthusiastic to sample the best fine dining cuisine this city could offer.

Classy decor overlooking the old, iconic buildings of the city.

 My first go was the Lobster Bisque with Pan-Seared Scallops. I dont like shellfish at all, but boy do I wallop this one good.

You didnt die in vain!!!

The mains was unbelievably moist and flavorful too!

Grilled sea bass with mushroom emulsion and potato confit, I am salivating as I typed this. It blended very well with each of the elements of the plate.

the best part of this experience was the price. The bill came up much less than a dinner for one at Shook, Starhill. It was all worth it, I say. For those who enjoy fine dining, this restaurant is the place to be.

I wrapped up my overstuffed night with a trip back to the hotel to enjoy my food coma. Not before peeking in the casino at the Calavera, because I am a curious creature like that 😉

Please hand over that 2000 USD of yours that you have lost over to me, or better yet, those homeless people on the streets -_-

—End of Part 1–

My 3 days 2 nights journey ends today, and though I would love to head over to the Cu Chi tunnels, I told myself that I would rather just explore the iconic parts of HCM before I make my leave back to KL. This is after all a vacation time out (meh?) , so I put the Saigon Notre Dame and the Post Office in my itinerary – a nice and easy tour of the city’s surroundings among the few.

 

not in Paris :3

 

A French Cafe by the Municipal Theatre! <3

 

No need to travel to Paris to see the Notre Dame as HCM has its very own indo-chine version here!

Saigon Post Office. was recently repainted but it still brings old world memories.

 

FLOOR PORN 2 in Earth Heir scarf as skirt.

In the Post Office, with Spring flowers for Tet greeting the entrance.

 

Another Indo-Chine French Cafe with that old world charm still intact <3.

 

The only circumstance where yellow on buildings seem to do the trick. At the Saigon Post Office.

Final destination was Ben Thanh market!

In my latest spree of location hopping, Ben Thanh was scheduled to be last, as to anticipate the carrying of merchandise to the hotel (the hotel is only a 5 minute walk from the market). Only to my displeasure, most of the markets were closed to enjoy Tet. However, I see this as a sign to cut back of hoarding and just got myself a bag and coffee as requested by peeps back home.

Oiled up but I enjoyed my purchase! Folk chic.

 

With the modern Financial Tower in the background, ad the old Ho Chi Minh in the foreground.

 

Celebrating my final night in HCM, I delved deeper into the nightlife of HCM, as I see people have started to buzz around as it was a Saturday night. The sights were lovely. I love nightlife scenes. 🙂

Catching up at Pha Ngu Lau. Insane traffic scene observed from the french-cafe style bistro seats here.

 

Balloons! by the roundabout.

 

One of the more random sights of the city. A young boy performing a fire-breathing act in the middle of the busy road in HCM’s buzzing nightlife district. EEK.

 

Ho Chi Minh is an interesting city to stay in for a maximum of 3 days, its perfect to go sight seeing on all the pagodas, old French colonial buildings and cafe-hopping. Stay more if you do enjoy the cafe culture, but for someone like myself who rather enjoyed the rougher, raw parts of the city (like countrysides) I would advise you to stay maybe in Hanoi, where it is less hectic and closer to natural attractions like Sapa Valley. Though Tet is brlliant time for sight seeing, traffic-free woes and time to head to the Mekong River tours (which I chose not to go as I wanted to explore more of the city) I would not suggest if you are on a specific shopping excursion as most of the shops are closed! Ho Chi Minh was a marvel, I’m glad I ticked it off my bucket list! <3

 

xx