Posts Tagged With: Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnam – Ho Chi Minh City, 16 – 21 August 2011

This was a library research trip. It’s been about a year since I last visited Ho Chi Minh City. Some changes? More new hotels; even taller buildings. But at least the strip that I walked so often in district 1 is still about the same.

Well, since I was there, I tried more new dishes. So, here goes:

  • Banh Beo Hue (Hue Rice Cakes?) in Ben Thanh Market:
This costs 13000 dong (about 70 cents usd). At first, it just looks like a plate of rice cakes with a pork pate. But when you actually eat it, it is quite interesting. Not all of the tiny rice cakes were created equal. Some of them were just straight up, chewy rice cakes, but there were some that were filled with prawns, while there were others filled with what I believe to be a bean paste. Topped with fried shallots and fish sauce, this was definitely a winner in my book. I went to the one by the corner, nearer to Le Thanh Ton. Just look for the crowd of people eating there, or the people who do like 15 portions of take-away.
Banh Beo Hue
  • Banh Khoai in Mon Hue by Le Thanh Ton (just a little off Ben Thanh Market)
I wanted to have some Bun Bo Hue, and try some other side dish, so I hopped into this central Vietnamese restaurant. Some of the stuff there looked really beautiful, like the spring rolls arranged in the form of a phoenix (~170000 dong). I didn’t try those. I had a Bun Bo Hue (beef rice noodle soup, Hue-style), which was not quite to my liking, since it was kinda sweet, and not as spicy as I hopped it would be. Anyway, the new dish I tried was the Banh Khoai (~35000 dong). My best explanation is that it is the Vietnamese version of a quiche, but this was topped with mushrooms, prawns, and sliced pork. Taste-wise, it was actually quite decent, but I couldn’t exactly finish it, as towards the end, it was just kinda greasy. Maybe it’d have been better if it was shared.
Banh Khoai
  • Bun Moc in Quan An Ngon on Pasteur Street
The Bun Moc can be found at various street vendors, but since I like Quan An Ngon so much, no trip to Vietnam is complete without it. Anyway, it is a rice noodle in broth with sliced pork and pork balls, and was about 45000 dong in Quan An Ngon. I liked it, but otherwise, I don’t quite know what else to write about it. I guess for me, what makes a Vietnamese soup dish for me is the filling, and since I liked the filling for this one, it worked out.
Bun Moc
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Vietnam – Ho Chi Minh City and Con Dao, 16 – 22 August 2011

16 – 21 August 2011: Ho Chi Minh City *

21-22 August 2011: Con Dao

* This is mostly a library trip, so my posts will probably have more to do with food

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Vietnam – Lunch in Ho Chi Minh City, 17 August 2010

Com Nieu Saigon,

19 Tu Xuong, Ho Chi Minh City

Ever since I watched Anthony Bourdain’s show on Com Nieu, I wanted to try it. So, today I finally went out to district 3 to try it for lunch.

Com Nieu is claypot rice, and I think the main selling point for this place is the theatrics that comes with it. They break the claypot, and toss the rice across the dining area, give it a few more tosses. If you are lucky, the server might even oblige with an extra roll. Taste-wise, it is crispy, and as they drizzle sesame oil over it, it is very fragrant. Just a tad pricey at 50000 dong (~2.5 USD/4 SGD).

Breaking the claypot

He catches the rice

Gives it an extra little toss

The tasty end result

We ordered three other dishes to go with it:

Tofu and Mushroom

Garlic Pork Ribs

Hanoi Spicy Fish Soup

The rest of the dishes were very nice, albeit a little pricey for Vietnamese standards. The whole meal costs around 300,000 dong (15 USD/23 SGD). A small point to note: the servers tend to try and recommend the more expensive dishes that cost around 150,000 dong (8 USD/12 SGD). There are, however, cheaper dishes available on the menu.

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Vietnam – Ho Chi Minh City, 17 August 2010

Given that this is the fifth time I am here, I didn’t do much today, except walk towards Highlands cafe for some coffee and work.

Some interesting/depressing sights along the way:

Poster of Ton Duc Thang

I was quite surprised to see a poster of him, as the predominant figure of most posters is Ho Chi Minh. Ton Duc Thang is the first president of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. For more on him, check out Imagined Ancestries Of Vietnamese Communism: Ton Duc Thang And The Politics Of History And Memory (Critical Dialogues in Southeast Asian Studies).

Some call the phone booth a home

The dazzling growth of Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam has its costs – the rich-poor gap has just widened, and some now call phone booths home, in a city which has seen the rise of housing costs, amongst other living costs.

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Vietnam – Supper in Ho Chi Minh City, 16 August 2010

Brought the crew to Quan An Ngon for dinner, which was as usual, a hit. But shall not post on that, since I post a little too often about Quan An Ngon, and all that it has to offer.

A variation from the eating routine tonight was ice cream at Fanny’s in Vincom Tower on Hai Ba Trung Street. Fanny is an ice cream chain that was set up in Vietnam in 1994. For more of its history, you can check out Fanny’s website. We ordered avocado, durian and chocolate flavours, and cost range from 24,000 to 35,000 dong per scoop (1.50 USD/2 SGD to 2 USD/3SGD). The sundaes are cheaper per scoop. Obviously, I had zero interest in the durian, but I could certainly smell it, even if I didn’t try it. Avocado tasted like avocado, and the chocolate was smooth and pretty intense. I liked it.

Fanny’s Ice Cream

After ice cream and more walking, the rest of the crew decided to go shopping. I did one of my favourite things – perched myself on one of those flimsy plastic stools by the side walk, and proceeded to try another dish that I have not tried – bot chien. This looks like the Singaporean carrot cake, and looks to be fried radish with egg, accompanied by a dark fish sauce. According to the lady who made it, it is a Laotian dish. It tasted a little bland, but it was a good experience. Wallet damage? 20,000 dong (1 USD/1.50 SGD)

Bot Chien

Watching the world go by on my little stool

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Vietnam – Ho Chi Minh City, 16 August 2010

Another year, another new high rise. In my previous trip to Ho Chi Minh City last month, I resisted going into the newly opened (30 April 2010) Vincom Tower. But this time round, I decided to check it out. Vincom Tower is built on what used to be Lam Son park (I think). I used to walk by this park ever so often, when I used to study here back in 2006. Well, now instead of Lam Son Park, you can find Popeye’s Chicken, Carl’s Junior, Breadtalk, all in one building. Hello capitalism!

Another year, another mall

Walked through the hotels from the Vietnam War era, and took yet another photo of Hotel Continental, where Graham Greene of The Quiet American (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) fame stayed.

Hotel Continental

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Vietnam – Ho Chi Minh City and Mui Ne, 14-17 August 2010


14 August 2010: Ho Chi Minh City – Mui Ne (4 hrs by car)

15 August 2010: Mui Ne

16 August 2010: Mui Ne – Ho Chi Minh City (4 hrs by car)

17 August 2010: Ho Chi Minh City

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Vietnam – Saigon to Cambodia – Phnom Penh, 27 December 2004

The day involved a journey across countries. I also had my first taste of corruption with Vietnamese authorities. As my bag was stored at the bus compartment, it was wheeled away in a cart. I didn’t think much about it, but when I tried to retrieve it after the Vietnamese border, the immigration official demanded money before allowing me to retrieve my packs. What irked me most was how he smugly pointed to his batch, indicating his right to the money. As if extortion was something to be proud about! Out of sheer annoyance and disgust, I just left a minimal amount, grabbed my packs and left without turning around.

The transition between the two countries is great. In Vietnam, concrete houses lined the roads, but in Cambodia, wooden houses lined the roads. And perhaps due to the slightly different climates, there were fields upon fields of golden harvest.

Phnom Penh, being the capital city is not exactly built up. It resembles a backwater town in Malaysia more than a capital city of a country. However, having said that, no effort is spared with regards to ornamenting religious sites!

Typical Countryside View.jpg

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Vietnam – Saigon, 26 December 2004

The early morning must be getting to me. Waking up groggy, I opened my eyes, and thought I saw snow on the grounds and roofs. Astonished, I immediately scrambled for my spectacles for a clearer view of the sight. Well, turns out that the whiteness of the scene was actually the work of the sandy dunes of Muine, and not the snow of Dalat, as I suspected. Such is the diverse landscape of Vietnam! It certainly doesn’t take much for me to appreciate the diversity since I hail from tiny Singapore!

Saigon is much like Singapore with its skyscrapers, departmental stores and KFCs. And well, people here are friendlier than those in Hanoi. Unfortunately, I was so badly conditioned by the attitude of Vietnamese trying to sell me things in Hanoi that I didn’t know how to respond to these new developments.

It turns out that most of the sights within Saigon city can be seen within a day, and hence, I bought my ticket out of Vietnam, spending my last night in a fancy hotel that cost US 15.

Sights in Saigon include the History museum, the water puppet theatre, Notre Dame cathedral, War Remnants museum, HCMC city museum, and the Jade Emperor Pagoda. The museums in Vietnam seem very thrown together, i.e. they just chuck the exhibits inside a building, and put a little tag below. The best organised museum is probably the HCMC City museum. One interesting thing about the HCMC City museum is that they have a double pricing system– one for visitors, and one for those wanting to take wedding photos!

I’m glad Vietnam ended well. My only regret was that I started from the North, rather than the South. Maybe my experience with Vietnam will be different, if I started on a different course.

Pork Seller.jpg

Saigon in the morning

History Museum, HCMC.jpg

History Museum in Saigon

Bicycle of Baskets.jpg


Goods for sale in Ho Chi Minh City

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Vietnam – Cambodia, 14 December 2004 – 01 January 2005


14 December 2004: Hanoi

15 December 2004: Hanoi

16 December 2004: Hanoi – Halong Bay – Cat Ba Island (Bus, Boat)

17 December 2004: Halong Bay – Hanoi – Sapa (Boat, Bus, Overnight train)

18 December 2004: Sapa

19 December 2004: Sapa

20 December 2004: Sapa – Hanoi (Overnight train)

21 December 2004: Hanoi – Hue (Overnight bus)

22 December 2004: Hue

23 December 2004: Hue – Hoi An (Bus)

24 December 2004: Hoi An – My Son – Hoi An (Bus, Boat)

25 December 2004: Hoi An – Nha Trang – Ho Chi Minh City (Bus)

26 December 2004: Ho Chi Minh City

27 December 2004: Ho Chi Minh City – Phnom Penh

28 December 2004: Phnom Penh

29 December 2004: Phnom Penh – Siem Reap

30 December 2004: Siem Reap

31 December 2004: Siem Reap

01 January 2004: Siem Reap

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