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Monday, August 2, 2010

Being Vietnamese.

Frankly, Ho Chi Minh don't have that many worthwhile tourist spots. At Notre Dame itself, we saw 5 couples taking their wedding shot. They queued up to take turns using the cathedral doorway as backdrop. Even we, do not see so many bride and grooms at Esplanade in any one day. Forget about being a tourist. Be Vietnamese.  Especially when you only have 48 hours in Saigon.

1) Ride a xe ôm,  (it means hug-vehicle, literally)
You haven't experienced Saigon if you haven't gone around on a scooter. Zooming around the city precariously,breathing pollution and feeling the dust particles flying into your face. It's amusing seeing the 'action' on the roads. We saw couples double-dating on scooters in the night. 2 couples on 2 scooters, side-by-side CHATTING to each other while CRUISING. Are they a traffic hazzard? Or is it the NEW hang-out method? You also see couples riding real slow by the side of the road, obviously dating-on-a-scooter. Too bad you can't make love in a scooter, like you can in cars. You won't notice these if not on a xe ôm. You spot them parked on road corners, the driver lounging on it. 
It's not necessary to hug the driver.
When it rains, burly men bring out their pokka dot and Hello Kitty rain coats. Pink is what REAL MEN wear. Especially when they hold gym membership cards like these....

2) Watch a 3D movie at half price
A scooter park is alot more popular than car parks. They have a proper system going on there, you take a ticket, they mark your scooter. You produce your ticket, pay something like $0.30 and get your scooter back. You lose your ticket, you don't see your scooter ever again.
I'm surprised that we park in something like this to enter a cinema that looked just like Singapore's! In fact 3D movies there is half the price of here. Their popcorn taste lighter than ours, i can't quite decide which i prefer.

3) Chill in a swanky bar at a fraction
Immediately, I like this place once i pushed through the heavy oak doors. Although it reminds me of KPO (which many friends call it poseur), it is full of expats here as well. Yummy honey coated cashew nuts-Yes. Refreshing margaritas-Yes. Classy deco-Yes. People watch- Yes. 

Located at: Park Hyatt Saigon.
District 1, 2 Lam Son Square, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh

4) Snack at an Internet Cafe.
Not only can you eat, surf but you can also enjoy its in-house home theater. Complete with plush seats, dark room, surround sound and a projector screen playing classics and new movies. You feel almost like Richie Rich. Having a waitress at your beck and call whilst you watch your movie. The food isn't much to scream about though. But it's a nice afternoon spent just snacking in front of the large projector screen. The one mentioned below is not the one i visited, but it has a similar concept.

Located at: Cafe HD Saigon (Cafe HD Sài Gòn)
61 Nguyen Thong Ward 9, District 3 (61 Nguyễn Thông - P.9 - Q.3)

4) All Things French
French cuisine is expensive in Singapore. Vietnam, a French colony before has cheap french cuisine all over. Au Pare, serves Mediterranean food. Level 1 is a European looking coffee house in shades of brown. We chose to sit in level 2 where bright orange and yellows surrounds. 
Breakfast sets go for SGD 7.

Located at: Au Pare
23 Han Thuyen Q1
We went here a total of 3 times, only to be rejected. Finally, our perseverance paid off. Serving French meals for less than SGD 10, they have a thick menu offering a variety of soups, stews and meat. Regretted being adventurous, i didn't quite enjoy the Rabbit. The meat was too rubbery for my liking, although the apple sauce was nice and light.

Located at: Bistro 48
48 Le Thi Rieng

5) Massage
For all massage lovers, you MUST get a massage in Vietnam. Simply because it's SO CHEAP yet SO GOOD. Can a Singaporean ever stop sounding like a bird? Cheap chirp, Cheap chirp, Cheap chirp! I only go to Ngoc Anh and will only stick to it. It quality massage for $21 (90 mins). Although i really don't quite understand the difference between hot stones, aromatherapy and swedish because i've tried all, and it seems like they all felt THE SAME! I suggest pick the cheapest of the lot, because you get almost the same treatment. I.E Hot Stones therapy cost $7 more. I did that the first time. The second time i went, i took the aroma one. They also used hot stones on me! And i didn't have to pay. Although to be fair, hot stones were used a little longer in the hot stones therapy. The outlet is 8 stories high, and they have many outlets across Ho Chi Minh. It's all very professional, they even warn you not to try anything funny with their therapists.

You ought to tip service staff everywhere you go. 50,000 dong ($3.50) is generous enough. They give you a tip voucher to fill up. You pay in full at the cashier (tip plus price). I also had a 75 min foot massage which was so-so at $7.

6) Ice Cream
I found this very nice quaint hide-out that serves indulgent creations. The Walnut Parline was so-so. The one with ferrero rochor, malteses and hazelnuts is simply sinful yet heavenly. I was disappointed i didn't get the wafer bowl this time round (they gave it to me the last time!) I'm not quite sure why. Maybe the last time was 2 scoops? The Vietnamese can't speak much English, but at least they're a little better than the Japanese. So please do, point to them you want it in the wafer bowl.
Located at: The Fountain (Cream and Fudge Factory)
103, Võ Văn Tần, P.6, Q.3

7) Get a Hair Wash

I know it's not something you would usually do, but it sure is an experience! Don't let the bad spelling scare you off. It certainly is not a place to eat wax.
These parlors are littered all around Saigon. Brightly lit, skimpy cladded girls sit outside displaying their wares, i thought it was a dodgy place for hum sap men.
They seemed quite happy to get my female business.
First she washes my hair and gives me a head massage.
Followed by a chargeable but optional facial. Have to do it, after all that dust particles from riding the scooter. The face massage she gave beats my $80 facial at Bella hands-down. I never knew forearms could be used to massage my face. Cucumber slices were then placed, i felt so beautiful!
Then she digs my ears for me, which is a little scary for someone poking in a foreign sensitive hole.
All that for $7 + $3.50 (tip). This is a more expensive parlour, or perhaps my hair is thick and long.  It usually costs $3-$5 for him. I feel like squeezing her boobs.

8) Kitschy Knick Knacks
Keep your eyes out, really. You'll find things like giant peas-in-a-pod to buy as souvenirs!

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