This is a continuation of my previous posts. Please read the previous posts here.
When we were planning our honeymoon, me and AS had different ideas on where we wanted to go. I always wanted to go to Greek Islands (Santorini) but AS wanted to go to Hawaii. But as AS couldn’t take more than a month off from work and our wedding took so many days, we couldn’t go to either of the places.
Anyway after a few discussions we decided on Vietnam as it would be on our way back from Nepal. But honeymoon was off to a rough start. Read about what happened even before we land in Vietnam here.
When we got off in Ho Chi Minh airport it was very hot and humid. We took a taxi and went to our hotel. I was praying for rest of the holidays to be incident free as the headache we had before we reached Vietnam was enough for one holiday that as well on our honeymoon.
The room was nicely decorated and we had a buffet breakfast every day. They had lots of things to choose from like toast and cheese or rice, Pho, noodles, varieties of eggs, salads, yogurt and all kinds of pastries.
We booked trips that took us around the city and we went to churches, a Presidential palace, and museums. We also took a trip to the Mekong Delta, Cu Chi tunnel, and Cai Dao temple.
Ho Chi Minh city
Ho Chi Minh (formerly Saigon) is a fast paced city with a unique mix of French colonial architecture, Chinese influences, a modern entrepreneurial spirit and numerous temples.
During this tour, in the morning, we visited the historic Reunification Palace and War Remnants Museum. The tour continued to Ho Chi Minh’s finest examples of French colonial architecture with a visit to the Notre Dame cathedral and Post Office.
We had a local lunch before visiting Giac Lam Pagoda, the bustling Chinese district of Cholon and Ben Thanh market.
Overall we had a great day and we loved everything we saw.
Cu Chi Tunnels
The tunnels of Củ Chi are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located in the Củ Chi district of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and are part of a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of the country.
We decided to do tour of the tunnel and it was a great place to visit.
The Cu Chi tunnels were built by local fighters during the Indochina conflict as a base from which the Viet Cong could operate from close to the Southern Vietnamese capital. Initial construction started in 1948 when the Viet Minh required somewhere to hide from French air attacks and by 1965, the Cu Chi tunnel complex was estimated to consist of 200km’s of tunnels.
It included, hospitals, schools, meeting rooms, kitchens and sleeping quarters. Life was difficult for the inhabitants and to protect against outside intruders bobby traps were laid throughout the complex.
We started the day with exploring the Cu Chu Tunnels and learning more about the courage & ingenuity of the inhabitants. We also learned about the conditions the Vietnamese people lived in, the hardships they faced and the amazing ingenuity employed to maintain life in the tunnels
Mekong Delta Discovery
Our day started with 2.5-hour journey, by air-conditioned mini-coach to the Mekong reason. At times, I thought I was in Nepal when I saw acers and acers of green fields with rice paddy.
The Mekong is the region in south-western Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. The Mekong delta region encompasses a large portion of south-western Vietnam of 39,000 square kilometres (15,000 sq mi).
It is a water world where boats, houses, restaurants and even markets float upon the innumerable rivers, canals and streams that flow through the region like arteries. At times you can quite simply lose sight of land.
On this tour we were lucky to explore the villages and islands in a private long tail boat ride along the Mekong River.
We loved our lunch at Diem Phuong Restaurant where we had one server on standby to peel our prawns and make us fresh rich paper rolls. We also tried fresh coconuts water other exotic fruits.
After lunch we were taken to another Island where we learned about cottage industry and the process of making coconut candy.
Cao Dai temple
Just outside Tay Nihn and 60 miles northwest of Ho Chi Minh City is the Great Temple or Holy See, the center of the intriguing Cao Dai sect. Cao Dai is a syncretist Vietnamese religious movement that incorporates aspect of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and even Catholicism.
The Cao Dai Temple (as it is more commonly known) was begun in 1933 in a unique architectural style that reflects its blended traditions. Most people visit on a day trip from Ho Chi Minh City.
The trips were fantastic. Once we were out of the city, there was more greenery and less traffic. There were acres of rice fields with lots of people with Vietnamese hats. I really loved it.
Constructed between 1933 and 1955, the Great Temple of Cao Dai closely resembles a Christian cathedral in its architecture – two square towers, a long central nave with upper gallery, and side aisles. The altar, an apse and ambulatory are at the opposite end from the entrance, just as in a typical church.
The exterior and interior of the Cao Dai Temple are both extravagantly decorated, incorporating symbols, abstract designs and images of saints. The high ceiling is painted sky-blue with fluffy clouds and the floor tiles have busy patterns. The dragon-encrusted columns that run the length of the nave number 28, representing the 28 manifestations of the Buddha. Seven-headed cobras represent the seven human emotions.
One of the most memorable sights at the Cao Dai temple is the sea of worshippers who dress in flowing robes and assemble in orderly rows during a ceremony. Men sit on the right and women on the left.
As usual my holiday would not be complete without shopping and I was so glad that we had a good one in Vietnam. We went to the Ben Thanh Market as well as shopping malls.
I was glad that Vietnam is not as commercialised as Thailand and it was easier to shop.
I went to Zara and Mango stores where things were cheaper than Australia and bought heaps of dresses. Also at the market we bought some souvenirs.
I would have done more shopping but couldn’t as we had already brought lots of stuff from Nepal.
We also did post wedding photo-shoot there and we loved the end result. Here are some shots from the shoot.
But the best part of the trip was the massage. It was very affordable and it was so good. We went for a massage every day. It cost us around AUD$15 for a whole body massage with aromatic oil and hot stones for over an hour.
The next best thing was that we felt like millionaires anywhere we went. We booked a private tour so we had the diver and the guide to ourselves all the time. The car they got for us had leather interior with air con. AUD $200 is equivalent to a million Vietnamese Dong so you are always paying in hundred thousands or millions.
Vietnamese 100,000 dong
I found the people friendly and the staff of the hotel very helpful. Like most of the Asian countries I have visited, they always had a smile on their face.
Till then, take care.
M from nepaliaustralian
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