I haven’t seen much of Ho Chi Minh yet and I have been running around since I got here. I am so tired so I decided that today, I will just stay in the hostel or chill in the coffee shop nearby.
I slept a lot which made me feel refreshed. I didn’t get out of the bed until around 2PM. Around 4PM, I decided to get ready and meet with the group at 5PM even though this was not in my plan today.
I called Ashley and they are not in the park. They are in tea house just on the other side of the park near my hostel. After getting my drink, I went upstairs and whoa there’s about 40 people in the room.
They gather here for a class which I joined as well. I met different people and of course I had fun again. I’m glad I decided to go.
Lam, the guy I met in Singapore invited me for a dinner which I was so excited about. When we were in Singapore, I did tell him and his family that I have been wanting to visit Vietnam for food.
Ashley and I attended the “Talking With The Tourists Group” in the park for couple hours before we headed to Lam’s house. It was about an hour motorbike ride.
When we got to Lam’s house, I was greeted by his family and friends. To my surprise, his mom was also there. He told me that his mom is in their hometown which is 10 hours away so I didn’t expect her to be there at all. I was so happy when I saw her. Ashley and I were so hungry but the food was not ready yet. We could smell crab though which made us more hungry while waiting. After about 30 minutes of waiting, finally we were asked to go upstairs where we will eat. A lot of food! It’s like a feast.
We had Saigon beer with the good food. I thought these were all the food and I ate a lot of meat but then there’s the seafood noodle soup. Of course I still ate but not a lot since I am already full. I again thought this was it then I was again wrong. They have sweet potato which was very good. Lastly, we had rambutan fruit for dessert.
It was getting late and Ashley has to go to school the next day. We had to leave even though we wanted to stay longer.
While on the way and even until I got back in my hostel, I couldn’t explain how I was feeling. I don’t remember when was the last time I had a meal with my whole family. When I get to see or be with a family, I get a little emotional.
It was indeed a wonderful Vietnamese dinner with good, nice and awesome Vietnamese family and friends.
I want to live in Vietnam for a while! May God help me to make this happen. 🙂
So we went to the park which is just 2 blocks away from my hostel. I got to meet a lot of Vietnamese people. Most of them are in college. The “Talking With The Tourists Group” literally means they are talking with the tourists to practice their English. Since these students cannot afford to pay for English training school, they go to the park near backpackers area. They invite tourists to sit and talk with them.
Since I am a tourist and is able to speak English well, I had a group of Vietnamese people surrounding me. As expected, they asked a lot about Philippines and about me. We had so much fun even though it was challenging for me to talk to them.
The talk was from 3PM to 6PM. Then, people decided to have smoothie with me and the other two foreigners the group got the talked with who just arrived from the Philippines.
I was so tired so around 8PM, I decided to leave. I was talking non-stop for 5 hours! I got back to my hostel and took a shower after a long day. When I checked my phone, I got literally 68 friend requests and 36 messages on Facebook all from Vietnamese names. They all want to meet me so they can practice their English. OMG! I accepted those with mutual friends and replied to all the messages. I was wondering how did they all know my FB account then I found out that the guy I met in SG posted it on their group website. Oh shoot!
I think this group is awesome. They are all determined to practice their English. I wish I can meet everyone and help them but I am only here for few days.
On my second day, a girl from Germany named Julie checked in in the room where I’m at. We talked and laughed within the first 30 minutes. She asked me if I’d like to go out for the night and of course I said yes. She wanted to have a drink so we went to a bar nearby the hostel but the beer cost around $3 so we walked out. We just decided to walk until we find a nice place. We ended up in the Bitexco Financial Tower which is the tallest building in Saigon. We checked out Alto Heli Bar on the 52nd floor. We were just wearing shorts and ugly shoes and we weren’t sure if they’d let us in but we’re glad they did. It was kinda awkward being under dressed in this place though. We couldn’t find the elevator to the bar and when we asked we had to be escorted to the 2nd floor and then there is the hidden elevator to the Saigon’s skyline! Loud and good music as we entered. We sat by the glass wall and here’s the view.
When we looked at the menu, beer was like $8! We walked out from $3 and hell we are not paying for this. We had to figure out how to walk out of the bar. Man, that was embarrassing. It was like “A walk of shame”. That is okay though, I’m sure nobody will remember us.
We saw a bar called “N Pub”. We chose to be here because the customers are all locals, more relaxing and the beer was around $2. We just spent about an hour then walked back to our hostel.
The next day, I had to wake up early because my Vietnamese friend Ashley invited me to her friend’s home for lunch. I told her that I’d really like to have a home cooked Vietnamese food. I took bus number 3 and got off near Big C supermarket. The people on the bus made sure I will get off at the right place.
Ashley and her friend cooked noodles and spring rolls for me and they were awesome.
After lunch, Ashley invited me to join their “Talking With The Tourists Group” which I did and I will have a separate blog about it. 🙂
They said the best bus to Vietnam from Phnom Penh is Giant Ibis so I took it for $18. We left around 8AM and I arrived in Ho Chi Minh around 2PM. It took us 6 hours and the whole trip went smoothly from the time we departed, going through immigration and my arrival in Saigon City.
I booked Eco Backpacker Hostel for $6 per night. It’s right in the middle of backpacker area and it’s a minute walk from where the bus dropped me off.
I contacted the Vietnamese family I met in SG prior to coming here. On my first night, they picked me up from the hostel. They took me to Saigon River where the view was amazing. The motorbike ride was crazy but fun. I was screaming all the way. LOL!
We went to a food place and ate all kinds of sea shells for dinner with matching good beer! The total bill was only $12 for the four of us.
While waiting for our food a boy came to us selling lottery ticket. I bought one for US$0.50 and a guy behind our table bought one as well and gave it to me but I didn’t win. =[
I find people in Vietnam friendly. The city is beautiful which reminds me of Makati City where I live in the Philippines but this is a little laid back. I had a blast on my first night and it makes me want to live here. =]
I found a round trip ticket through Jetstar from Singapore to Phnom Penh for S$127.00. Without knowing anyone and with the hope of getting a job as English teacher, I decided to fly to Cambodia on July 21, 2014.
I chose to stay in Lovely Jubbly Place. I paid US$10.00 for 3 nights for the 12-bed mixed room. That was cheap! The hostel emailed me immediately after booking through hostelworld. They offered airport transport by tuktuk for US$7.00 which I thought was expensive but I wanted to be safe so I availed the service.
The staff welcomed me with a smile and cold water. They can speak English well which was a good thing.
There was a whole bunch of Australian people in my room but they were not all together. They were going out and a guy named Adam invited me. I did accept the invitation. To my surprise, there were a lot of other people to join us from other rooms. We were total of 12 people. 1 girl from England, myself and the rest were Australians. We went to K-West Restaurant and Cafe which has a bar on the rooftop but we didn’t stay for long because the drinks are expensive. We then went to eat street food. I had kebab for US$3 which I think was expensive for a street food although it was good. They wanted to go to a bar after but I decided to go back to hostel since I was tired and didn’t want to spend too much money.
The next day, I joined a girl from England named Kate to see the city by tuktuk for US$18.00 so we paid US$9.00 each. We went to see Tuol Sleng Museum (US$2.00 entrance fee) Killing Fields (US$6.00 entrance fee) and Russian Market. None of these amazed me. It was cool to know Cambodia’s history but I didn’t think it was worth the money I paid for.
For me, Phnom Penh is expensive for the quality you get. Maybe if I go to Siem Reap, it will change my view about Cambodia. After 3 nights in Phnom Penh, I decided to take a bus to Vietnam.
So here’s my review about the first ever hostel I stayed at. A lot of bad reviews I’ve read online. This was one of cheapest hostel I found though and was my last option. The review through hostelworld is limited to characters so I couldn’t write these all. I’m hoping travellers will see this and help them decide whether to stay here or not.
Initially, I booked 1 week after seeing some parts of the hostel but I extended and stayed for total of 2 weeks and 2 nights. Kim is the manager and she’s the only one who runs the hostel. Please read the “Property Information” of the hostel before you make a reservation through hostelworld.com Everything is mentioned there except the key deposit of $30 which is refundable on your departure. Also, the service charge is now 12%. For example; you booked for two nights with total of SG$25.00. The 12% deposit for hostelworld is SG$3.00. It will tell you that the balance to be paid when you arrive is SG$22.00 but since the hostel adds service charge of 12%, you still have to pay $25.00. This is just how it works so either go for it or go somewhere else.
The hostel is in between Boon Keng and Potong Pasir MRT station. Either way is more or less 10 minutes walk. I think Potong Pasir is closer to walk but if you go to Boon Keng there is a bus that stops to “After Moonstone lane”. Once you get off the bus it should be 2-3 minutes walk. The hostel is beside Moonstone Kitchen.
The A/C is being turned off from 11AM-7PM. The only electric fan working is the one by the computer. The fans in the rooms are not working. Also, Kim cleans the place usually between 11AM and 1PM. She will vacuum the floor in your room even when you’re sleeping. People may not like it but I like the fact the she maintains cleanliness of the hostel.
I never had a problem with Kim. I understand her personality and she has been nice to me all throughout my stay. I know there’s a lot of guests who didn’t like her. I guess this just depends on our culture or personality. Just don’t get on Kim’s nerves and you will be fine. Make sure you read and obey to all the signs on the wall.
Kim may not be the kind of host you want but hey, if all you need is a clean and safe place to stay for a reasonable price . . . I highly recommend Empire Hostel.
I didn’t see a lot of pictures online for this hostel so here you go.
I met a lot of different people from different country by staying in the hostel.
I first met the two awesome young guys from India named Tushar and Ankit. They are Engineering students doing internship at Nanyang Technological University. It was their last weekend though when I arrived. They wanted to go out to take pictures before they leave. We went to Marina Bay and just walked around. They were so amazed by the buildings which I wasn’t since I myself was living in a 43-storey condominium in Makati City surrounded by other tall buildings. I understand though because whenever I go to the country side I get amazed with trees, woods and nice green grass which probably people who live there don’t find it interesting. When I told them I want a real Indian food, they took me to Little India. I forgot the name of the vegetarian Indian food place but I had Dosai for S$2.00. It’s like a crepe filled with potatoes. It was very good but I couldn’t finish it for it was too big for my little tummy. I had a great time with these dudes. They were younger than I am but we connected. They were like my little brothers and for them I was like their “Didi” or sister. When they left Singapore, I told them I will try my best to be in their graduation next year.
I next met Jenny from Thailand. When I told her I want to go to Botanic Garden, she offered to accompany me. We had a nice walk in the beautiful garden and we took a lot of pictures! She asked if I eat frog and I told her the last time I had frog was probably when I was 10 years old. She took me to a place where we can have frog. It was cooked in spicy sauce and we ate it with porridge. That was something new to me. It was good!
Then, I met Justin from the US. He was traveling Asia. We went to hike Mt. Faber. It wasn’t as nice as Botanic Garden but it was a nice hike with a nice person. Justin is cool, he was traveling for weeks with one backpack and his fancy camera is occupying half of the space, I thought that was cool. It made me want to do the same thing.
Finally, I got to reunite with my dear friend Mitch! She has been busy at work so she wasn’t able to meet me sooner. We spent short time together but indeed fruitful.
A Vietnamese family then checked in. A guy named Lam, his parents and his girlfriend. I wanted to go out with them but they had too much in their itinerary! I never got the chance to go with them but little talks in the hostel made us add each other on facebook. I told them I will contact them if ever I get to visit Vietnam.
I met Mark and Ryan, two young guys from Gibraltar (A country I never heard before). We went to Sentosa. It was an all day walk! It was tiring for me and they seemed to still have energy by the end of the day. I felt old. I couldn’t keep up with young people. LOL!
I decided to see Gardens By The Bay alone! It was too hot and I was sweating like a pig but it was such a beautiful place indeed.
I also met two women from the Philippines named Zarina and Minette. They came to SG to look for a job. Minette told me about Cambodia. She said I could be an English teacher there. Without hesitation, I booked my flight to Cambodia.
I left one of my bags to my friend in SG and just took a backpack with me. Now, I am an official backpacker!
I quit my job in the Philippines on June 10, 2014. After two weeks of being jobless, I decided to go to Singapore to find a job. I flew to Singapore on the night of July 03, 2014. I was supposed to arrive SG around 12 midnight but my flight from the Philippines was delayed due to thunder storms. I arrived in SG on July 04, 2014 around 2AM. I stayed in Singapore Changi Airport until 6AM then I took the first shuttle to town which cost S$9.00.
I planned to just stay in hostel since it is the cheapest way to stay in the most expensive city. I didn’t book in advance because I was afraid to get stuck at one place. I visited 98SG, WOW hostel and Urban hostel which are all located in Geylang. They all looked horrible. My last option was the Empire Hostel in Moonstone lane. I had to take taxi from Lavender Street because I was already too tired. Luckily, the taxi driver knew where I was going. It cost me about S$6.00.
I arrived in Empire Hostel around 9AM. I immediately liked the surrounding and the hostel. The host did not welcome me in a nice way though but I was just thankful that she let me checked in at 9AM even though the check in time is 2PM. Also, I read some reviews that she just let them wait or was asked to come back at check in time.
After a week that I didn’t get any feedback on my job hunting, I decided to fly to Cambodia. I will write a separate blog about my experience in Singapore and my review on Empire Hostel.