A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Chapincita

Vietnam Venture Day 3 continued

HCMC - 41 Bui Vien Guest House


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I mentioned before that I prefer to stay in the “backpackers” district when I travel. This is not only for the obvious low financial cost but I return, I find extreme high value of human interactions to be had. The multi-star hotels provide me with a capsule of isolation. I enter the beautiful lobby; receive an impersonal greeting from someone whose job it is to greet me. I enter an elevator where everyone stares at the wall, floor, ceiling or number panel. I exit the elevator and enter my very comfortable, tastefully decorated room where I spend the time with the TV and the room service meal I’ve ordered because I feel weird dining alone. When I travel like this, I’m likely to rush about in the morning to join a pre-arranged tour where I may exchange a few pleasantries with fellow tourists but will not have a chance to engage in true conversation because we must listen to the guide. I’ve done it but it’s not for me. I don’t want my time managed the way tours must manage time. I don’t want to go where every tourist goes, I want to spend time with the people. Locals and foreigners alike. That is the value I find in a hostel, guest house or home stay. That’s where I get to exchange stories, tips and warnings about the place and meet interesting people. Since the hotel is not my destination I have two very basic and simple requirements: Safe and clean. That’s all! I don’t care about the furnishings or the décor. I’m only there to sleep and shower.
Ideally I want to live like the locals: Eat where they eat, shop where they shop and go where they go for entertainment. I’m not against seeing the sights but prefer to do so with the locals if at all possible.
That is why HCMC was my favorite stop on this trip.
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This is my first taste of the traffic experience in Saigon. "Catch me if you can" says my fellow traveler's helmet. I was close enough to reach out and catch him.
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Traffic is certainly dense but the nice timed traffic lights do help people plan the various activities they engage in while traveling.Main_Post_Office__7_.jpgMain_Post_Office__1_.jpg
He took me to the Main Post office which is across from the Cathedral of Notre Dame. I went into the post office which doubles as a souvenir shop. Main_Post_Office__5_.jpgMain_Post_Office__6_.jpg
No wonder this place is at the top of places to see in every guide book and travel blog!
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The Main Post office is across from the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Couples often use the area as a backdrop for their wedding pictures.
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After the Post Office I visited the War Remnants Museum. It was a hard visit, but a real eye-opener to the horrors of war and the awful things we humans do to each other. I decided to only share the display of pictures that children have created in an effort to promote peace.

Posted by Chapincita 06:40 Archived in Vietnam Comments (1)

Vietmam Venture Day 3

HCMC - 41 Bui Vien Guest House

sunny
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In the morning, I went to breakfast, asked for a second night only to learn they were fully booked and I would transfer me to a “sister” hotel. Well, the very efficient receptionist, Kitty, booked my train for Danang, helped me contact Saigon Unseen and was beyond helpful, so I trusted her to take me to the next hotel.
41 Bui Vien Guest House is a much smaller and quite modest hotel. Older and devoid of any sophistication, however the room is clean, the bed a bit firm but has AC and there is a computer I think I’ll be using quite exclusively in a little sitting area they have where there are free bananas and complimentary tea for guests.41_Bui_Vie..use__4_.jpg41_Bui_Vie..use__5_.jpg41_Bui_Vie..use__3_.jpg41_Bui_Vie..use__2_.jpg41_Bui_Vien_Rules__1_.jpg
Again, Toilet paper in a capsule, bare-bones shower but with strong water pressure and as hot as you want it.
Rule #5 is a hoot! But good reassuring that they care about keeping it decent. Who knows what the foreigners have been trying to pull.
41 Bui Vien has grown on me even before spending a night and it will be clear why as I continue to write.

Posted by Chapincita 08:09 Archived in Vietnam Comments (2)

Vietman Venture Day 2

HCMC - Luan Vu Hotel


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5:20 PM Arrived at HCMC airport, processed my entry visa, paid the $25 fee and was on my way out looking for my ride to the hotel. Agoda contacted me to inform me the hotel would like confirmation of my airport transfer but upon arrival there was no pick up.
Fortunately there is a help desk at the airport exit that helped me try to call the hotel. The woman I was taken to wanted to dial the number without telling me how much it would be for the call. I insisted on knowing the charge before she dialed. She said $10 US dollar. I walked away. Went back to the service desk and asked for a taxi. Paid $10 got a stress free ride well worth the money for the distance and the driving skill. Quiet driver, probably spoke no English, I tipped him and we were both happy. 
I liked the Luan Vu hotel. It is basic but very comfortable and clean. I decided to extend extend.
Luan_Vu_Hotel__1_.jpg The room was spacious, comfortable and impeccably clean! 6Luan_Vu_Hotel__2_.jpgGreat relief after experiencing online booking in India.Luan_Vu_Hotel__3_.jpg The toilet paper is in a plastic capsule.
Luan_Vu_Hotel__4_.jpgVery compact but all you really need. Clean!
Luan_Vu_Hotel__5_.jpg Secure door.Luan_Vu_Hotel__6_.jpg Fan and A.C.

Because I prefer to stay in the “Backpackers” district, I was a bit concerned about what to expect upon arrival. Luan Vu is half way down a little alley but to my pleasant surprise, when I arrived, someone had just washed down the alley. It was still wet and smelled of detergent. This gave me hope that cleanliness was not a stranger in this country.
I slept like a log in my little modest room.

Posted by Chapincita 07:40 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Vietnam Venture Day 1

Tokyo

Vietnam_trip__14_.jpgI used the shuttle to Narita where I boarded the shuttle for Narita Tobu Hotel Airport.
Great start to my trip! I got in to the hotel, took the 7:00 PM shuttle to AEON mall where I found the Hard Rock Café. I bought one of their over-priced burgers to go, walker around the mall while they burger got ready, picked it up and waited a short while for the shuttle to come take me back to the hotel where I ate, took a nice long bath and retired for the night. Stress free for the morning.
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Nice tea and coffe comforts
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The bedroom
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Guests-yukata
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Little seating area
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Dinner!
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Leaving Japan for Vietnam

Posted by Chapincita 04:40 Archived in Japan Comments (1)

Vietnam Venture

Phase 1: Planning


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I am living and working in Japan. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected it, but here I am! It’s my first time in Asia and as a school teacher I have the wonderful good fortune of numerous school breaks and a long summer.
I decided to try and go somewhere significant every time I have a break and so far, it has worked very well. My first year in Japan I traveled to Beijing at Thanksgiving, The Phillipines at Christmas, Okinawa in May and even managed a short evacuation trip to the states, GA, as a result of the March 11 earthquake!
During the summer I traveled with my daughter Nayrobi to see a bit of Japan. We visited Hiroshima, Miajima, Osaca, Kyoto and Nagoya. After that we went to India and traveled the Golden Triangle route.
Well, my second school year has begun . Thanksgiving I stayed put because a friend who transferred to Okinawa came back for a very fun visit. Now Christmas break is coming, so I took out my list of places to see. Right on the top is Thailand. I started planning a preparing to go. Then flooding came and I decided to postpone that visit.
Next I was looking for an alternative destination and Vietnam was mentioned by a colleague so I started to do some research. Not very enthusiastically at first, but it only took a visit to the Fodor’s site to be transported by the wonderful trip reports posted. This will be my first solo trip in a long time, so I have been nervous and afraid. However I decided I was more afraid of giving in to this fear and not going because I may never again get up the nerve to do it. So I went and purchased my plane tickets departing on December 20th and returning on the 30th. Just in time for New Years and to get a little rest before returning to work on Jan, 3rd.
Thanks go out to all blog posters for all the encouragement you gave me to take this trip!
Itinerary planning is quite difficult when you have limited time and no idea of where to go.
Fodorites also had a cure for that! I saw how generously they answered questions and helped steer people away from possible pitfalls so I decided to ask for help. I posted a really long list of questions. After submitting it I felt no one would take the time to read such a long post and I would not get any answers. I was wrong! Many answers came and my itinerary starting taking shape. I read a whole lot and in doing so I felt transported to some of the magical places that awaited me. I am fully convinced that taking this trip will be the start of something good for me: Confident solo traveling.

Posted by Chapincita 03:52 Archived in Japan Tagged preparation Comments (0)

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