Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as it is better known to the locals, is the largest city in Vietnam, with a population of over 8mil. It was the centre of administration during the French-colonial era, and later the South Vietnam forces backed by the West. It’s capitalist-oriented past is reflected in the tonnes of touristy shops and establishments, unlike Hanoi which, although under an open economy, strikes me as distinctively ‘rigid’ or ‘spartan’ (Karaoke centres are the only form of entertainment, and most shops close after 9pm). HCMC, however, is like Kuta in Bali – thriving, colourful, bright and never sleeps.
We arrived at the Tan Son Nhat airport after a two hour flight from Hanoi. Our guide, Mai, immediately hopped onto the bus and took us around the city. It was approaching evening and the roads were full of scooters and bikes returning from rush hour. I saw many more familiar shops like Starbucks, McD, Giordano, etc which were absent in Hanoi.
Apparently many Malaysians favour coming here, so much so that some signs are in Malay. 🙂
Mai brought us to a back alley restaurant (I am terribly sorry, but I can’t remember the name at all D:) which had a nice ambience and served fusion Viet/French cuisine.
Did I mention that every set meal in Vietnam comes with a bottle of glass Coke? Not the can varieties: actual, glass bottle Coke. I don’t see these in KL anymore.
Deep fried Vietnamese spring rolls. Crunchy and crispy on the outside with soft, juicy vegetables on the inside. If only vegetables taste as good as these, I’d eat them everyday lulz.
This was like, the bomb. Grilled stuffed squid, topped with fresh, chopped tomatoes. The squid was springy and fresh, stuffed with a combination of herbs and minced meat for different textures. My only lament was that the portion was quite small to be shared among so many of us.:P
Cauliflower and vegetable stew. This was okay, but not flavourful enough
Viets seem to love putting pineapple in everything. This was so sweet it was more like a dessert soup.
And to finish off, some spongecake topped with soft custard.
It was a great way to start our intro to Ho Chi Minh City – Hanoi’s more party-going sister. More to come!