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Unread 8 Nov 19, 05:21 PM  
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DisneyDaffodil
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Ho Chi Minh Pagoda and Walking Street ~ Day Two ~ Vietnam July 2019

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Sorry for the long delay between these days. With Georgia in university its hard to write together.
We all slept restlessly this night and woke up still feeling very jetlagged and tired. We had arranged not to meet Ian until this evening as he had things he needed to do. As we wanted to visit the Emperor Jade Pagoda, we decided to do that today without Ian and also to relax, to try and get over our jetlag a little more (before flying the next day to Hoi An)
We had breakfast on the rooftop. The food was similar to every day, a mixture of Western and Vietnamese foods. I forgot to take many photos at breakfast, other than this one of my coffee.

After breakfast Ian called me to check that wed be ok by ourselves for the day, which we reassured him we would be. After talking to Ian we went down to the lobby of our hotel and ordered a Grab car to the Emperor Jade Pagoda (which cost under 1). Its useful to find out the names of these places in Vietnamese, and the full address as its often confusing to use the app if typing in Emperor Jade Pagoda (as it has many different names in English. For example, the Emperor Jade Pagoda is known as Ngọc Hong Pagoda) Its easy to find these names by just googling the place that you want to visit.
Our Grab car only took about 10 minutes to reach the pagoda, although it seemed to go a route we hadnt seen yet and we were all a little confused during the drive. Often in Ho Chi Minh, we found that the Grabs would take us through streets we hadnt seen, even though we were near places we knew. They usually did this to avoid traffic.
The pagoda was in a very local area, with houses and stores nearby but without the tourist feel of the museums we had visited the day before. This was definitely more a place of worship than a tourist attraction, although we were not made to feel unwelcome. We think this made it more beautiful to visit, as it was a glimpse at the religious culture of the city. I felt a bit uncertain about taking photos in here, as it was a place of worship and people were praying so I tried to only take photos in rooms where people werent present or if it didnt feel intrusive.
The outside of the building was spectacular. It was so bright and ornate.



In the courtyard outside there were small shrines that people were praying at, leaving gifts and lighting incense. There was also a fish pond with catfish in and another part of the courtyard with terrapins/tortoises (were not sure which. I think terrapins but its also known as the tortoise pagoda, so it could be either)



We then went inside the pagoda. It was quite small (although it did have an upstairs portion that we visited but didnt see many people going up to) but the interior was very elaborately decorated. There were statues and carvings in the wooden building everywhere you looked. It was dark inside but lit up by candles and there were even more people praying here. It was sometimes a little confusing to know where we could go and what the right thing to do was, as there were no signs as its a place of worship. This is more our problem than theirs, as were ignorant about the religious customs and proceedings. We did really enjoy our visit here as its the first time weve ever been to a pagoda and it was so beautiful and peaceful. As you probably know if youve read our Croatia trip report, we love to visit religious buildings and this was totally different to any we had been to before. I loved looking at the different carvings, as there were carvings of people, battles, mythical creatures and real animals. There were also huge statues and the whole building was just so interesting to look around.




We only spent around half hour here, as it was small, but we were so glad we visited. We sat in the courtyard to order a Grab but instead of going to our hotel we would stop at the Opera House and walk the 3 minutes from there to the hotel. This was simple to do (as I did it) and the Grab quickly arrived and took around 10 minutes to reach the Opera House.
The Opera House is very beautiful to take photos of, but as you cant go inside (unless you are going in for a performance) there isnt a lot to do here. We took a few minutes to take our photos before walking back.



Mums insisting on saying that we had to cross roads to get back, as though thats an achievement. It is in Ho Chi Minh!
We then stopped at our local Circle K and bought a ready-made sandwich, cans of iced coffee and a cake each, plus a large bag of crisps between us (which came to under 5) We got back to our room at around 12 to eat our lunch. Georgia and I both had a teriyaki chicken and a ham sandwich each and were unsure what sandwich Rob had. The sandwiches werent great, but they stopped us being hungry. On the other hand, we really enjoyed the cakes we chose and the iced coffees.


Jet lag was affecting us all this afternoon and as we were all tired we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing. Rob dozed for quite awhile and Georgia and I rested and read. We then headed up to the pool to sit here and relax. We also took photos and I saw a really cute TINY lizard.







The pool in this hotel was very small, so we didnt actually go in the pool here but it was very relaxing to sit and enjoy the views. When we went back to the room, Rob had woken up, so we all started to get ready for our evening. We also spent time packing our suitcases, as we were taking one of them to Hoi An with us and leaving the other two in Ho Chi Minh in Ians apartment. He was taking them back with him that evening, so they had to be ready to go before we went out.
We met Ian and Claudia in the lobby of our hotel at around 5:20pm. We had decided that evening to walk around Walking Street and around the river area and have food at Secret Garden restaurant. We first went to Walking Street but we decided not to walk around too much as we wanted to see it later when it was dark and we were starting to get hungry, so would be heading in the wrong direction from Secret Garden. Instead, Claudia showed us a building filled with small shops and cafes. This building was crazy. It used to be an apartment block and each of the flats had been converted into boutique style shops selling clothes and accessories or little cafes and restaurants. They were all so beautifully decorated and sold really unique things. I loved it here instantly, and we would have walked past it if we were there without Ian and Claudia, as the entrance looked like an alleyway or the entrance to a car park. Heres a photo of the view from the top and also one of the outside that I took later in the trip.


The stairways up to the shops also had the appearance of abandonment and it was only when we went into the first shop did we realise how cool the building was. We spent quite a while exploring these shops (despite starting to get very hungry). On the second floor, I bought a burnt orange coloured handbag for around 10. I also bought something in this shop. I bought a pin for around 2-3 (I cant remember exact price). I think Dad and Ian were regretting bringing us here now, as Mum had bought ANOTHER handbag It was cheap, how could I pass it up (I think Rob was actually relieved that handbags were so cheap here, as last time Id bought a bag on holiday it had been a Michael Kors one )

We also went into a huge bookstore here, that sold books in both Vietnamese and English, as well as lots and lots of stationery items. I bought a pack of star shaped push pins for my university notice board.
After spending much more time in the shops than wed anticipated (and me already starting to regret having not bought more), we started to walk towards Secret Garden. On our walk, we stopped to take in the city hall and take photos of it. This was probably one of my favourite buildings in Ho Chi Minh, as the architecture of it was so beautiful and different compared to everything around it on Walking Street (as it was French designed). I really loved seeing the old buildings amongst the new skyscrapers (especially along walking street)

Ian had never been to Secret Garden before, but had heard that it was a good Vietnamese fusion restaurant and he thought we would enjoy it. I had also read reviews for it before we travelled and thought it sounded interesting. When we entered the building that Secret Garden was situated in, I was again surprised by how un-business like the entrance was. We had to walk up a few flights of stairs, that seemed to leading to apartments, rather than a restaurant. This is something we became more used to in Vietnam, but this early on it still felt weird to me. I didnt care where we were going as I was so hungry. When we reached the rooftop, where the restaurant is situated, I was taken aback by how pretty it looked. There were fairy lights strung to posts around the rooftop, a wall with lanterns and it had a bright, relaxing atmosphere. There were also lots of plants up here and it felt very natural compared to the city below.

We all spent a while looking through the menu. Ian suggested a few things we should definitely order to try and we also came up with a few ideas (as there were a lot of photos and descriptions of the food so we could choose what appealed to us). We ordered lots of plates of food to the table and shared them between us, as we usually did in Vietnam. Some of the dishes we had were (were not 100% sure of names or exactly what we had and its been a while)
sliced beef with shallots, bok choy with garlic,

pork and lotus root things (these were honestly the best thing I ate in Vietnam and we all agree. They were so so different and tasted amazing. I wish wed had more than one each ),

red snapper soup (which I was very surprised that I liked, as before the holiday I hadnt liked the look of any of the soups or noodle dishes such as pho (which seemed really weird to me as shed never tried anything like this) but the fish was excellent. Even I liked the flavour of the broth and the vegetables in it, despite not trying the fish),

spring rolls and beef short end ribs (which were the most disappointing thing, as the flavour wasnt great and they were quite hard and gristly). This was one of my favourite meals of the trip. I loved the atmosphere of the place (you could put up pretty lights anywhere and Id probably fall in love with it) and the food was soooo good. I loved being able to try new things (such as bok choy, the soup and the pork lotus root things) and not feeling obliged to eat it if I didnt like it, as we were sharing dishes and other people always liked something that others didnt. I also think Ian realised during this meal how much food I can manage to eat, especially when I stole the last spring roll before he could have it 😊 As Georgia said, this meal was excellent and I would recommend it to anyone going to Ho Chi Minh. It is described as being more touristy, so it can be busy because of this and we were lucky to get a table without booking. Overall, the meal plus non-alcoholic drinks for all of us, came to 26, which was again incredibly cheap. It was fun to sit on the rooftop, enjoying the atmosphere and all chatting.

After waddling back down the stairs, very full after our meal, we made our way back to Walking Street by the city hall. This is a pedestrianised area of the city, thats used a lot by locals and tourists as a place to sit, relax and people watch. We really liked walking along here in the evening, as it was bright and vivid and very alive. The skyscrapers were lit up and it reminded me of the big cities, such as New York (which sounds a little silly as obviously Ho Chi Minh is another big city). We strolled and chatted as we walked towards the river front.


We crossed the road to the river, which was bigger than any of the roads wed crossed before and was very very busy. Claudia and Ian were very helpful with crossing this road, as it was much more difficult to judge than any of the others wed crossed. Thankfully, none of us got run over, so we then went for a walk along the river. The river was also very pretty. There were boats and boat-restaurants here and the trees had lights in them that made it look even more pretty (see, I like anywhere with fairy lights ) This did seem a relaxing area but it was broken by the traffic going past nearby and the constant horn blaring.

We didnt want to stay out too late this evening, as Ian and Claudia had to be up for an early flight to Hoi An the next morning. Rob, Georgia and Is flight had been changed to later in the day, so we didnt have to be up so early. We all walked back to our hotel, stopping to take photos of the Opera House at night

Ian and Claudia took the two of our suitcases to store away. We spent some time in the lobby taking photos after they left.



We then decided to head down to the nearby Circle K to buy some drinks (and I was determined to get ice cream but didnt mention that until we were there. I knew how easily Mum and Dad would be persuaded) We bought some lagers for us and orange juice for Georgia (which wasnt very nice but I had it later in the holiday too, so it couldnt have been that bad although I still complained about it not tasting very nice each time I drank it) and surprisingly we bought ice creams too. Georgia and Rob both chose a Korean ice cream in the shape of a taiyaki (a Japanese cake in the shape of a fish, usually filled with red bean paste). These had vanilla ice cream in (instead of the paste) and Robs had a strawberry sauce and mine had a chocolate sauce. I had a more normal ice cream similar to a Magnum. When we bought the Korean fish ice creams, the woman behind the counter in the Circle K kept pointing behind us and then ran around to pick up a tote bag for us, as they were giving them away free if you bought 2 of the ice creams, which we had without realising. I really love this bag, as it has the fish ice cream on it in the top corner (I would put a photo of it here but its currently in Bristol and Im writing this at home with Mum. Guess who got to keep the bag lol) I thought it was so nice of the shop assistant to get it for us, despite us not understanding what she was trying to indicate. It was a good example of how friendly and how people in Vietnam would go out of their way to help you if they could.
We went back to our room and ate our ice creams (which tasted AMAZING.) and drank our drinks. We sat here, chatted and watched tv before heading to bed at around 11:30pm.




The next day we travelled to Hoi An and checked in to the Hoi An Beach Resort.

Edited at 05:52 PM.
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Unread 8 Nov 19, 07:02 PM  
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Another fantastic report.
We loved the Secret Garden too. It was funny walking past people's apartments with their shoes left outside to get to it.
At least your pool had shade over it. Ours didn't get any sort of shade on the room until gone 2pm.
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Unread 8 Nov 19, 07:40 PM  
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Originally Posted by justacey View Post
Another fantastic report.
We loved the Secret Garden too. It was funny walking past people's apartments with their shoes left outside to get to it.
At least your pool had shade over it. Ours didn't get any sort of shade on the room until gone 2pm.
I felt the entrances to many shops and restaurants were so strange in the first few days, but I soon learnt that they led to some wonderful surprises, Secret Garden was definitely one of these 😀

The hotel pool did have a lovely canopy over it, we really didnt use the rooftop enough at this hotel though as it was the first few days and we were out exploring. Our second hotel in Ho Chi Minh (Grand Silverland) when we returned from Hoi An, also had a rooftop pool which we used much more
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Unread 9 Nov 19, 07:53 AM  
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What a fascinating day!

I love the sound of the shops in the apartment block - my type of place.
Your meal was so cheap - you were very brave to try so many different things. No pizza express for you
The evening wander looks lovely - and how cute is that fish ice cream!
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Unread 9 Nov 19, 09:35 AM  
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Crossing the roads does seem to be tricky but I'm glad you made it in one piece and I'm glad Georgia allowed you to write about it in the report.

The photos of the city at night are really interesting, it looks like a fabulous place to wander around especially as you had your local guides taking you to amazing shopping centres the handbag looks gorgeous a great find. Also, what a tasty looking dinner with all the different plates. I don't think I've ever had Vietnamese food before, it seemed you enjoyed your meal.

Also, don't worry about the delay in posting days. It's a lovely treat when they pop up.
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Unread 9 Nov 19, 09:56 AM  
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Originally Posted by Melbatb View Post
What a fascinating day!

I love the sound of the shops in the apartment block - my type of place.
Your meal was so cheap - you were very brave to try so many different things. No pizza express for you
The evening wander looks lovely - and how cute is that fish ice cream!
The shops were a great find, they made Georgia very happy 😂

Cheap meals are going to be a feature of every day here. The only expensive meal we had was one the first evening at the Italian restaurant. Eating local food was definitely the cheapest option and the tastiest. I wasnt sure we would eat Vietnamese food before we went (thought we wouldve been finding a Pizza Express too 😂 ), Ian kept telling us it was delicious but that was just making me nervous in case I didnt enjoy it. We have actually missed Vietnamese food since we returned.

The fish ice cream was a big success, I wished Id had one too. It was a lovely end to the day 😀

Edited at 10:18 AM.
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Unread 9 Nov 19, 10:08 AM  
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Originally Posted by Goldia View Post
Crossing the roads does seem to be tricky but I'm glad you made it in one piece and I'm glad Georgia allowed you to write about it in the report.

The photos of the city at night are really interesting, it looks like a fabulous place to wander around especially as you had your local guides taking you to amazing shopping centres the handbag looks gorgeous a great find. Also, what a tasty looking dinner with all the different plates. I don't think I've ever had Vietnamese food before, it seemed you enjoyed your meal.

Also, don't worry about the delay in posting days. It's a lovely treat when they pop up.
I had been sure I wouldnt cope with crossing the roads before we went, but coped really well after the first few days. This particular road was a challenge though so I felt it needed pointing out that we made it in one piece 😂

Having Ian and Claudia definitely helped us find the best places to visit and eat, but with a bit of research Ho Chi Minh is a very easy city to navigate and find the attractions and restaurants. Im still using the bag regularly, its excellent quality as well as a nice looking bag

We loved the small plates way of eating, as if we didnt like one thing we just tried something else (although there wasnt much we didnt like 😂 ) Georgia ate far more, and more variety, of food than she expected to by being able to try things in this way. There is a few Vietnamese style places to eat in Bristol, so I think we may all try some of those when we visit Georgia at university sometime

Im pleased you are still managing to find our report when we write it, we love being able to look back at our previous trip so we will complete this one eventually 😂
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Unread 9 Nov 19, 11:46 AM  
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We crossed the big road at the end of Walking Street. We were stood for ages until a man rushed over from the other side to help us. Then he wanted us to go on his boat trip
We walked a very long way to make sure we didn't have to cross it again
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