And as I am not one to make long blogposts, I'll be writing in installments. With lots of photos. :) I'll be uploading most of the photos in my Multiply account when I get home.
When we arrived I thought wow, they have a really nice airport! Very clean, with a sloped roof and shiny glass. From afar I could see tall buildings and signages. It was a sunny day; the weather's the same as here.
Our first destination was the Notre Dame Cathedral and, across the street, the Post Office.
By the time we finished taking each other's photos, we were very hungry and so it was a relief when Hung said we'd be heading off to lunch. And may I just say, it was the heaviest lunch I had during the entire trip, because it was
On the buffet tables were dishes with names I couldn't pronounce but could easily recognize: beef stew, fish fillet, buttered veggies, spring rolls, ginataang mais, buko pandan (mouth watering as I write this)... there was also sugarcane juice, and I had the best dessert:
It was so good that when we burped our breath tasted of durian. :)
After lunch the guide took us to the Royal Pearl Hotel, where we would be staying for four days. It was a nice hotel (three stars!); small but comfortable, and with wifi. I shared room 8007 with Ma'am Marielyn, the Assistant Director of our office. We were given a couple of hours' rest/free time before the afternoon's destination.
In the afternoon we went to the Vietnam War Museum. I shuddered at the photos taken and the accounts written about what happened during the war, the atrocities committed by the US military, the effects of Agent Orange, the general terror and anger during that time. We also went through the torture chambers where the government systematically and methodically grilled prisoners suspected of not being on their side. Man. I can't even say I enjoyed it. I learned a lot though.
Riding along, after the War Museum we headed to a handicrafts factory that employed differently-abled citizens. They made plates, wall hangings, jars, and jewelry boxes among others, using wood, eggshells, and lacquer. I realized laying out designs using eggshells required great patience and skill, not to mention good eyesight and manual dexterity.
Our last guided destination for the day was the revolving restaurant (it was just the floor that moved, i stupidly learned) with a great view of the city. I've already posted a photo at the thursdaykids blog. More culinary delights, and after dinner and before heading back to the hotel we asked our guide to take this photo:
The day wouldn't be complete without a 'night tour' of the market area by ourselves. After trying my hand at haggling (and slightly succeeding) while it was raining (prompting the group to say "it wasn't a night market; it was a wet market!"), I joined the officemates at a streetside eatery with twenty thousand Dong in my pocket. I didn't buy anything though. Haha.
Heineken beer for 17thousand Dong.
That's about it for our first day. I was rain-wet and exhausted, and when we got back to the hotel I managed a quick shower before heading to bed. I brought Mr. Kite the Iguana along, and we snuggled together happily.
The adventure continues the next day, in the next post. :)