The sleeping bus – an experience you shouldn’t miss
From Phan Thiet we took the sleeping bus to Ho Chi Minh which many still call Saigon. It took us about 5 hours ½ by bus, breaks included. The bus stopped every 1 ½ hours at a rest stop where we could buy something to eat and go to the toilet. These rest stops are simple but clean.
The “Sleeping buses” are buses with seats distributed on two floors, which can be adjusted so far that you almost lie down. Your feet will be under the back of the person in front of you. Personally, I find these seats very comfortable, but I am rather small, which helps. In the bus you have to take off your shoes and to get off at the service areas, flip-flops are provided. For such occasions, I always bring a pair of socks with me. On the bus you usually get water, a refreshing towel and WIFI.
Ho Chi Minh
In Ho Chi Minh we checked into the Golden Central Hotel. It has 4 stars and is furnished accordingly. Including a restaurant on the 17th floor with a beautiful view of the old town. It also has a pool, and most importantly, it is at a one-minute walk from the Bén Thành market and the food court. As you may have noticed, the markets and food are always very important to us. ? In this market hall you will also find food in the morning, while in the afternoon there’s only clothing, souvenirs, bags and table linen.
In Ho Chi Minh we also made our first experience with a motorcycle taxi. Already in the car we found the confusion on the streets as caotic, but on the motorcycle even more so. The drivers delivered us safe and sound! (Mine with a small delay, because he got lost, as he was new to Ho Chi Minh. Thanks to Google Maps and our phone, he found the way. The telephone conversation between my husband and me and between the two drivers cost more than the motorbike trip itself. ? – and we were richer by a funny experience!)
An absolute highlight for us was our cooking class at the Vietnam Cookery Center. First we were taken around the market where someone explained the different foods to us. She spoke perfect English so we could also ask questions. Afterwards we drove to the center where four other participants were waiting for us. Then we started cooking, a cook explained step by step what we needed to do and we cooked everything after him. At the end we had a tasty three-course menu for lunch. – Very recommendable!
In the evening we dined at a restaurant in the night market, around the Bén Thành market. Every evening at 6.45 p.m. they start setting everything up. They drive stands and goods their place with the motorbike and then assemble them. The 300 seat restaurant where we ate was set up in 20 minutes and was then operational – we were fascinated!
After two days of a hectic city we longed for more peace and quiet and travelled on to the Mekong Delta. I really liked this part of our trip. We booked a room in the Happy Family Guesthouse, directly at the river, which I can highly recommend. The journey is adventurous, with bus, scooter and boat, so it’s not good to have a lot of luggage! Before you arrive, make sure to contact the guesthouse and ask which is the best way to get there. We didn’t do that took a much longer way than was needed.
The guesthouse is simply furnished (2.5 stars) with shared bathrooms. Only 2 rooms have their own bathroom, this room is only available for “older guests”. She offered it to us! ?
Situated directly at the river, away from noise and hectic city live, we enjoyed 4 days of rest. The guesthouse has a restaurant, with a terrace directly on the river, with authentic and delicious dishes and even offers tours on the river. Breakfast is included in the (very low) price and fruit is included with every meal. There is also always a banana bush in the restaurant for free service. It also has a small but nice pool and a garden with hammocks and deckchairs.
The Guesthouse is a family business, cordially led so we had the opportunity to talk to the owner about the way of life in Vietnam.
During one of their guided boat tours we visited different manufacturers of sweets. This way we got to know coconut sweets and rice crackers. At the Vinh Long market we bought spice salt with which the Vietnamese season their fruit (mango, pineapple). We tried it at home and it is very nice but quite hot!
There is certainly much more to see in Vietnam. In 3 weeks it was not possible for us to travel the whole country. We saved the mountains in the north and the whole middle part for a future trip!
Now we enjoy the memories and the many great things we took home with us – fish sauce, tea, chopsticks…