Thursday, September 13, 2012


I bought myself tickets to Vietnam and Bali as a little present for my birthday last June. A small trip to celebrate life and love, to appreciate things and give thanks.  Left Jakarta on 15th June late afternoon to Ho Chi Minh City, I didn’t plan my trip at all, didn’t have any guide books with me, didn’t even book my hotel, I only carried a small backpack for 18 days trip and of course money. It was all about.. just go and buy yourself a big bowl of happiness, lost in your own little adventure.

The only thing I read about Ho Chi Minh City before I headed to airport was about taxi scam. Many people recommended to take VinaSun or Mai Linh taxi company, it was around $9 from airport to the backpackers district, Bui Vien street. So, arrived in Tan Son Nhat International Airport at 9pm, I changed my $100 to Vietnamese Dong, which I got around 2.000.000 Vietnamese Dong then walked out the airport, turn right to the domestic terminal and it was exactly in front of domestic terminal I saw few VinaSun taxi were parked. I talked to one of the drivers to take me to the backpackers district, with a broken English and a big smile, he helped to put my bag inside the taxi and took me to Bui Vien district. Let the journey begins !!!
Bui Vien street that night was packed with tourists sitting on the street had cheap local beers, while some local people tried to sell books, souvenirs and offered massage. This district reminded me of Patong at Phuket, and Kuta in Bali. Many selections of bars, hostels, restaurants, shops, and travel agents, so don’t worry if you guys haven’t booked any rooms or bus ticket, most of them  open 24 hours.

I decided to spend a night with Koniko Backpackers Hostel, the dorm room was very clean with 2 big toilets, lockers, AC and Wifi. I booked a bus ticket to Cambodia the next morning. Well, since I only got 15 days in Vietnam and Cambodia then another 3 days in Bali, I thought it’d be best to go to Cambodia ( Pnom Penh then Siem Reap ) then back to Ho Chi Minh. I’d be in a rush jump from one place to another, but this still gonna be fun. ( Feel free to check my previous post at Travelagys about Budgets in Vietnam and Cambodia for further budget details )
After checked-in, quick shower, I walked around Bui Vien street. I thought Jakarta’s traffic was the worst,  but not until I saw how hectic the traffic was in Ho Chi Minh City, almost got hit by motorcycles. Had Vietnamese noodles and fresh juice, pretty much enjoying Saigon at night, then back to my room to rest, get ready for Cambodia tomorrow. There I met my roomies, an American girl named Sheila and a Chinese girl from Shanghai – Vivian. She showed me some of photos she took when she was at the white sand dunes and fairy stream at Mui Ne, like 6 hours bus drive from Ho Chi Minh City. All her photos in Mui Ne were sooo great, made me think that I should stopped by there for couple of days, but we’ll see. These girls told me about their travel experience in Cambodia, recommended me where to stay and all those info a guide book couldn’t even tell you.
Leaving Ho Chi Minh at 9 am to Cambodia, I spent a week for both Pnom Penh and Siem Reap. I will write different post about Cambodia since the place was very unique and exotic, so I think I should share with you guys  special page for Cambodia with lots of photos and stories from Angkor Wat.
Back to Ho Chi Minh City after a wonderful Cambodia trip,  I spent a night again at Koniko Backpackers Hotel. This time I met two travelers solo named Monica from Portugal and May Liu from Hong Kong. We had a great evening talking about traveling, it’s unbelievable three of us coming from different place and have met  Sheila, the American traveler I met on my first day in Ho Chi Minh. What a small world. May Liu said Sheila was currently in Hoi An – Vietnam. May Liu would continue her journey to China, Monica would discover Ho Chi Minh then continue to Cambodia, while me super excited about going to Mui Ne the next morning.
6 hours journey from Saigon to Mui Ne was easy. I loved my sleeper bus – very comfortable, wish I had this one when I went to Cambodia. I stayed in Mui Ne Backpackers Resort for 4 days, paid $6 for my room per night and got these sun lounges and a really nice beach view right at the back of the resort, just exactly what I need after rush in Cambodia.  Went on a half day tour  to the white sand dunes and fairy stream with Rick, Mark, Jimboo and Sophie Provost, rent a motor and just riding around the sand dunes, then had some crocodile steak and beers.

Fairy stream

Rick and his new buddy, Mr.Ostrich

white sand dunes

fairy stream

..and thank you Mui Ne Backpackers Resort for having me...definitely recommend you guys to stay here in Mui Ne..

Left Mui Ne back to Ho Chi Minh City, I took a half day tour to Cu Chi Tunnels, going down to the tunnels wasn’t easy even tho I’m quite a small girl, but still fun to check out tourism places in Saigon. Then at my last day surprisingly I met Ilir Morina, the guy I met on the bus on the way to Pnom Penh. Ilir walked me around the city, showed me some interesting place from Ben Tanh Market, Reunification Palace, War Remnants museum, City Hall til Ho Chi Minh City museum, and this small juice shop, he was a great tour guide and made my last day in Ho Chi Minh. Overall I had an amazing birthday trip, thank you so much for those people I met during my trip. Traveling solo doesn’t mean you’ll end up alone, there’s always people around, I loved how each person I met simply gave me different stories and in the end they were parts of a great journey.    

Ben Thanh Market

Cu Chi Tunnels

For daily budgets in Vietnam and Cambodia, feel free to check my previous post "Budgets in Vietnam and Cambodia". Everything was pretty easy and cheap there, don't worry if you haven't booked any hostels, tours, or bus tickets, Bui Vien street or Pham Ngu Lao street the backpackers district - has so many travel agents, even hostels will help you to book your tickets. I will post my Cambodia trip soon, stay tuned and happy traveling !

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