• Reunfication Express train on its way to Danang which you can see in the background
    Asia,  Blog,  Travelogue,  Vietnam

    The Reunification Express

    First things first. There is no Reunification Express. At least not officially. It is called the North–South Railway. Covering 1,726 kms, it is the main railway line that connects the political capital of Hanoi with the commercial capital of Saigon. View of the South China sea A bit of history first Construction of the line linking these two cities began during the French rule in 1899.  It took nearly 40 years for its completion, finally connecting the cities in 1936. However, the line was continuously sabotaged and bombarded during the Vietnamese fight with the French, and later during the Vietnam War. It wasn’t after the war finally ended, in 1975,…

  • Reclining Buddha at Vinh Tranh pagoda
    Asia,  Blog,  Travelogue,  Vietnam

    Vinh Trang Pagoda

    About three kilometers from My Tho city, in the heart of the Mekong Delta, is the Vinh Trang pagoda. View of the temple It is among the most well-known in the region and one of the most fascinating, not least because of the three enormous Buddha statues within its complex. A standing Buddha symbolising bliss and compassion is located just outside the main gate. As you enter the pagoda gates, a laughing Buddha symbolising happiness and good luck smiles down upon you. A little ahead is the reclining Buddha, meant to symbolise nirvana. The pagoda itself rests on five acres of manicured gardens and fruit trees in My Hoa, on…

  • View of thatched hut on a pond at restaurant in Mekong Delta
    Asia,  Blog,  Travelogue,  Vietnam

    A day in the Mekong Delta

    There is a reason why the Mekong Delta is called the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam. It’s a region that is blessed with endless rice paddies. The delta is so huge that it literally covers about two thirds of the southern part of the country. Farmers till their rice paddies The facts first The Mekong Delta covers more than 15,000 square miles. In fact, the Mekong river that finally ends here is, the seventh longest in Asia, and the 12th worldwide and traverses six countries including China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and of course, Vietnam. It’s biologically diverse, with a variety of animal and bird species. It’s also the agricultural heart…

  • The Saigon riverside
    Asia,  Blog,  Travelogue,  Vietnam

    Aah Saigon!

    Ho Chi Minh City, popularly known as Saigon, can be a chaotic place that asks whether you are ready to go along for a ride. Motorbikes rush past on a busy street in Saigon It starts the moment you arrive into the city. At first, the hustle and bustle of the busy streets can be quite overwhelming, especially with the number of two-wheelers that zip by. However, in time, you realise there is a certain order to this chaos. Let me explain. Crossing the streets must be the most daunting task any traveller would face in Vietnam, and especially in Saigon. While the four-wheel vehicles are fine, it’s the sheer…

  • Artillery gun in front of War Remnants museum
    Asia,  Blog,  Travelogue,  Vietnam

    War Remnants Museum

    A visit to the War Remnants Museum is a must if you are visiting Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as it is popularly known as. While not for everyone, it is an absolute must if you want to understand what transpired under both the French colonialists, and during the Vietnam War. A tank outside the War Remnants museum building Its history The museum originally opened on the 4th of September 1975 as the Exhibition House for US and Puppet Crimes within the former United States Information Agency building. However, with the normalisation of diplomatic relationships between the Vietnamese and US governments, it was renamed as the War Remnants Museum…

  • Exterior view Independence Palace Saigon Vietnam
    Asia,  Blog,  Travelogue,  Vietnam

    Independence Palace

    On the 30th of April 1975, at approximately 10:45am, Tank 390 from the North Vietnamese army crashed through the wrought-iron gates of Independence Palace. The first tank to break through the palace gates And with that, the Vietnam War came to an end, literally at its gates. Waiting for the North Vietnam soldiers in the reception chamber was General Minh and his cabinet. It was only 43 hours before that he had become head of the South Vietnam state. For those visiting Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as it is popularly known as, Independence Palace is a must-see. Especially if you are interested in history and have a fair…

  • Billboard with Bui Vien Street name hung over the street
    Asia,  Blog,  Travelogue,  Vietnam

    Party all night long

    As the sun sets over Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as it is popularly known as, there’s one street that is slowly waking up. Bui Vien Street. A street vendor in costume If there’s one word that, to me, describes this street, it’s ‘Madness’. It’s loud. It’s bright. It’s seedy. It can get aggressive. And it goes on till the wee hours of the morning. It’s got to be one of the craziest streets I’ve ventured into. It’s no wonder, as it is also Saigon’s backpack quarter. Which means cheap hotels and hostels, and even more cheap beer and street food. Massage parlours flourish and disco lights light up…

  • Front view of Ben Duoc memorial temple complex near Cu Chi tunnels
    Asia,  Blog,  Travelogue,  Vietnam

    Cu Chi tunnels

    There are two different Cu Chi tunnels. Yes, Ben Duoc and Ben Dinh are part of the same tunnel network. However, they are two different sites. Mannequins of Viet Cong women soldiers Your experience will be different, depending on which of the two sites you visit. I visited Ben Duoc. It is a bit further from Ho Chi Minh City, and is also less crowded. The tunnels are also a lot more authentic and closer to how they were during the Vietnam war. Ben Dinh on the other hand, is mostly reconstructions. Keeping in mind the large number of western tourists who visit, many of the tunnels are wider to…

  • Wall painting on NAM Kitchen restaurant for a fresh look and feel in Saigon Vietnam
    Asia,  Blog,  Resources,  Travelogue,  Vietnam

    NAM Vietnamese Kitchen, BBQ & Beer

    It was the last leg of our Indochina trip and with money running low, we wanted to stay in an area that wasn’t expensive. Which is why any decent place around Bui Vien Street made sense. It is, after all, the backpacker quarter district in Saigon, Vietnam. View of Bui Vien street from NAM Kitchen We also wanted it to be in District 1, which is what most reviews recommended. We chose a hotel next to Bui Vien Street. It’s where all the action is, we were assured by some well travelled friends. On hindsight, we should have asked what kind of action it is that they had in mind.…