Our journey to the "Red Country" starts in our 7:30 am departure of flight PR591 to Ho Chi Minh City. I am excited on this trip to Vietnam because it is my first time to visit that country. And not only that, I am excited to learn the cultures of Vietnamese people . I am thrilled of what I will discover in this travel trip. This also serves as my vacation after everything about school has finished.
Our plane landed at Tan Son Nhat International Airport. I thought were going out of the plane via plane stairs as I've searched in the internet but I was wronged. Their international airport has already 4 airbridges (where people walk through in and out of the plane). Tan Son Nhat was medium size compared to NAIA Terminal 2. It is comparable to Cebu's Mactan International Airport. But beside the terminal was an under construction building of their new airport of the same name. The work of construction is clearly seen from our plane as we went on taxiway. Ho Chi Mihn City also known for its old name Saigon, deserves to have a new international airport because it will definitely boost its growing tourism.
We arrive at Liberty 3 Hotel (a 3-star hotel but very satisfactory for me) at 12:00pm. The hotel was cozy. It was beautiful and very clean. I felt a traveler on a real splurge especially when I saw the room. It was wide and comfortable with amazing view of the city from the terrace. The terrace is overlooking the scenery streets and buildings of Ho Chi Minh City! And so I get our camera and take the first photo of my trip to Vietnam. Our hotel was in a strategic location. It is in the heart city of Ho Chi Minh City, where nearby shops, boutiques, malls, restaurant, clubs and bars can be easily found. Pham Ngu Lao Street in District 1 is part of the central business district of Ho Chi Minh City.
We did our first day to trip around the city in an afternoon walk. First stop - we passed through 23/9 Park which was perfectly fine for afternoon strolls (actually according to the tourists information Ho Chi Minh alone has 10 national parks!). I've noticed that around the city and in every buildings or street posts has Vietnamese flags hanged and displayed, together with banners in red and yellow colored lettering in their alphabet. Later, I learned that Ho Chi Minh were in a 3-day holiday celebration because tomorrow, April 30 was the celebration of Ho Chi Minh City’s Liberation from American control and was returned to their communist government. Next stop - Ben Thanh Market - which was like their version of Divisoria Market except it is a decent and cleaner. It is a market building (so no worries when rain comes while in the middle of shopping) where low costs goods are being sold. You can actually bargain for cheaper prices in buying items and asks discounts when buying many items. It is a real bargain shopping paradise for everyone who wants Vietnam-made goods from shoes, bags, shirts to souvenirs and even fruits... everything that shoppers like to buy is available here. And one day is not enough to stroll around Ben Thanh Market because it is a huge market that you'll get tired in exploring it in a one-whole day! At 6pm, we went back to Liberty Hotel after buying few good items as we were tired in trying to stroll around the whole market.
I rest for 2 hours. Walking around Saigon expends a lot of energy. For dinner, we treated ourselves in a Vietnamese cuisine in one of the restaurants along Pham Ngu Lao. It can't recall the beef dish but it was a good Vietnamese food. At night Pham Ngu Lão street was alive! There were many tourists flocking around the street and as the night goes deep many people were still flocking around - trying bars, pubs and night life around Pham Ngu Lao. From the hotel terrace, I saw how night life transforms Saigon from a calm city by day into one of the hotspots to party by night. The streets were brightly lit. And the people were strolling around as every bar you want to visit is just a walk away from hotels.
As for me, I went into a relaxing moment by savoring the beautiful night view of the Saigon in the hotel terrace. Its a worthy first night spend in Vietnam. I ended my first evening by watching cable TV programs and then sleep happily... hoping another unforgettable journey tomorrow.