Friday, April 24, 2015

Vietnam with a toddler and baby...

...and not using travel agency is crazy.

Lucky we went to Ho Chi Minh for only three days.

Flight from KL to Ho Chi Minh is around 2 hours. We left via KLIA2, my first. Was amazed with so many shopsssss!! Must come early and lepak first.

Time difference is around an hour. 1pm Malaysia = 12 noon Ho Chi Minh.

RM1 = 6000 dhong. You can use RM as well in Ben Tanh market. And if you change RM to Dhong in Vietnam (we changed it in their airport) you'll get more compared to exchange rate in Malaysia.

They are using 2 flat pins plug like this, so converter is needed.

Travelling with a toddler and a baby, what you need?

1. A small portable stroller mainly for baby Aisha, or for Toddler Khaira if K fell asleep. Which left A to use..

2. A carrier. We love our Pognae so much.

3. Diaper bag with only diaper pants. Ho Chi Minh is not at all baby friendly. Don't expect to find any nursing room. Diaper pants are much easier option.

4. Formula milk for the toddler and baby food for the baby. First day I brought frozen food for A (which I reheat by submerging the tupperware in hot water). Since Baby A is not a colicky baby, we just gave her instant cereal for the other 2 days.

5. Light clothing, comfy shoes.

6. No jewellery please. I'll talk about it soon.

7. Snacks while travelling for the toddler.

Our first happy day.

Flight to Ho Chi Minh was smooth sailing, Alhamdulillah as both my girls were born traveller. We had a peaceful time in the flight while they were playing happily.

We arrived at Ho Chi Minh at 12 noon local time. We purposely did not take the first flight like we usually did so that by the time we settle down, hotel was ready for us to check in.

Stayed in Hoang Lien hotel with one queen size bed for all of us girls and one single size bed for Love. The bathroom was equipped with a bathtub so the kids love it. Comfy to bath the baby as well.

Funny though.. you need to leave your passport at the reception of the hotel or otherwise you need to pay a deposit of 100 usd.

We had our lunch in the hotel. Knowing it was hard to find halal food in our area as we did not stay in Ben Tanh area, I bought extra food from AirAsia. Each guest is entitled for 2 meals, so I bought 5 meals altogether for our lunch and dinner. We had a very heavy breakfast at the airport before.

After lunch, I called the hotel reception to buy us 3 tickets to water puppet show later at 6.30pm with the price of 150k dhong per person with extra 50k dhong for the hotel's sercive.

Then, all of us took a nap so the girls would not be cranky. Then we took a bath and off we went.

We walked to the water puppet show. Around 10 minutes walk that felt like forever. The traffic in Ho Chi Minh was crazy, I tell you! Motorcycles outnumbered the cars here. They move like a swamp of bees. Zebra crossing not working here, don't bother wait for traffic lights. They don't comply with the system AT ALL. Just brave yourself to cross the road, and the motorcyclists will find a way to avoid you somehow. It's like they don't need a system to work because they are soooo in tune with each other, it just works you know. They texted while biking and honking like alll the time but, not a single accident we saw. Total opposite of Japan but perhaps too systematic causes us to lose our common sense.

Water puppet show was amazinggggg!! The girls love it very much surprisingly. Must watch. It was a 50 minutes show in their native language.. but you don't need to understand the story to appreciate their tradition. I'm still amazed as of how the water puppet works. And K still refers Ho Chi Minh as "the place with puppets".

After the show, we had the time of our life in Trung Nguyen coffee shop. The coffee was amazing, never found a coffee this beautiful and strong. Then, we went back to sleep. Took me 2 hours to sleep, damn you caffeine!

But at least, I slept that night happily; loving the Vietnamese and the coffee.

Second day sucks big time

Woke up early and went to War Remnant Museum, 15 minutes walking. Was so so. Entry fee is 10k dhong. Opens daily from 8.00 to 11.45am and 1.30 to 4.45pm. I still wonder why so many Japanese in the museum.

Play area

Had Trung Nguyen coffee and shopped for some souvenirs, then we took a cab to Ben Tanh market.

A metered XE taxi driver looked kind enough and drove us to so called Ben Tanh market. Meter went out soo fast.. It was only 15 mins away, he charged us RM100. Even worse, he brought us to Bin Thay market, not Ben Tanh.. Ugh! But we shopped for Vietnamese cotton there. 10 pairs of them and other fabrics as well.. Vietnamese cotton was only RM 22 for 4 metres. Can get cheaper if you know how to nego.

Asked the salesperson how much does it cost for taxi from Bin Thay to Ben Tanh for validation, she said around RM25. So we saw a taxi driver with Vinasun's (the reliable taxi) clothing and cap, we asked how much, he said around RM25. But as we got to the taxi, it was not Vinasun, it was XE taxi again. But since he carried all our stuff already, off we went to Ben Tanh. As we arrived, he said we need to pay RM80 because RM25 times the number of people in the cab. We tried to nego and guess guess.. he grabbed Aisha's golden anklet ok!

I officially hate Vietnam after that! I hate Vietnamese so much, we felt insecure there.

Felt insecure to the trishaw drivers that pushed us to use their services. Felt insecure with so many people polishing Love's fabric shoes without permission. Insecure with people walking too close to the girls.

Had our lunch at Muslim shop near Ben Tanh and tapau for dinner as well. The Vietnamese salesperson spoke Malay fluently. The price tag of some items in the shops also in RM. Funny.

For me, Ben Tanh is messier that Philippine market. Price is so overrated. A tshirt for RM45, negotiable to RM8. Merepek tak? I don't like to nego, so I just walked away until I found honest salesperson that put the cheapest price.

Ben Tanh is not suitable for baby or stroller. Sempit, panas, kotor.

Then we took a Vinasun cab which charged us appropriately and got back safely to the hotel. At night, we lepak at a different Trung Nguyen shop and shopped for coffee to bring back home. Trung Nguyen coffee is quite pricey but for the premium taste, I must say it is worth it.

Can't wait to go home: Day 3

After breakfast, we went to Tao Dahn Park near our hotel. It was fun. Khaira went crazy.

Back to the hotel, packed, checked out (don't forget your passport) and straight to airport. Had lunch at Domino's; vege pizza. It was delicious.

Then, home sweet home!

Not missing Vietnam. Not coming back, hopefully, in shaa Allah.

I'm sorry, girls. No more places like these without travel agent. Even if we go after this, we'll stay in a place where we can have fun for you, girls k.

Alhamdulillah, Malaysia, I love you.

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