Day 2 in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) – we woke up around 6.15am to freshen up and then hurried to have the free buffet breakfast at the hotel. The above shows the first round of servings that I had. Food was nice and there was quite a spread as well.
Our breakfast is at Blue Sky Restaurant, which is located on the 12th floor of Elios Hotel and it’s a very cozy restaurant! Our rooms is on the 10th floor but the lift only serves up to 11th so you have to walk up 1 floor. Sometimes, it’s faster just to climb 2 floors then to wait for the lift.
You can also choose to sit outdoor, where you can admire the city view while you eat. Convenient for smokers too!
We didn’t take the outdoor seats as the sun is already shining strong and I only went out for a while to take a shot of the city view.
After the breakfast, we went back to room to use the bathroom before walking over to TheSinhTourist (5 mins away). We were told to check-in half hour prior to the departure timing but I think 15 mins earlier would be fine so as not too spend too much time waiting. But still no worries if you come early as there are seats, washroom and even free internet (2 terminals) available in TheSinhTourist office!
As our group is rather small, we were assigned a minibus instead of the usual big bus coach. Our group consists of a couple from Singapore (us!), a couple from Czech Republic, 2 males from South Korea and 6 males from Sarawak, Malaysia.
After about an hour of journey towards Cao Dai Temple, we alighted at an area to view handicapped handicrafts (tour guide mentioned to us that it was to visit the washroom).
Seems like a popular spot to use to the washroom as there are also other tour buses with tourists here too! LOL!
The art pieces here are pretty amazing as you can see that artists are re-using egg shells by cutting it to smaller sizes and then pasting it on to the vases. Various kind of designs are available too!
One of the completed art pieces. Amazing, is it? You can buy the artworks, if any catches your liking.
Another 1.5 hours journey on the minibus and we finally reached Cao Dai Temple (front view) in Tay Ninh. Tour Guide told us that Cao Dai means “High Tower” and is a religion that is a combination of Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism, Hinduism, Geniism, and Taoism.
Side view of the high tower at Cao Dai Temple.
Side view of Cao Dai Temple, which stretches for quite a distance. Built in 1933, with a unique architectural style that reflects it’s blended traditions.
A garden behind Cao Dai Temple.
The high tower at the end of Cao Dai Temple.
Restroom that is behind Cao Dai Temple. Rather primitive experience!
Inside Cao Dai Temple, males will entered the temple from the right side and females from the left. Both are seated separately. As for tourists, this does no applies! Need to remove shoes before entering too!
A spiral staircase which was decorated with intrinsic design of a dragon.
The Divine Eye, a symbol of God.
Beautiful craving design on the door.
Notice some of them are wearing different colour robes? It symbolize the three principal colors of Cao Dai – yellow for Buddhism, blue for Taoism and red for Christianity. Cao Dai disciples are dress in white robes.
Visitor are only allowed to watch the ceremony from 2nd floor, which actually stretches along the Cao Dai Temple. There are fans available and I chose a position where it’s blowing directly at me. Also. please be silent during the ceremony!
Short video on the noontime prayer and ceremony.
Took a photo of the whole Cao Dai Temple when leaving. Such a enlightening place!
Tour guide then drove us to a nearby Nam Thanh Restaurant to have lunch (at own costs). Prices are relatively reasonable and I grab a Saigon beer at VND 15,000. Haha!
Chicken with mushrooms and vegetables VND 35,000. Decided to go for more vegetables due to fear of constipation!
Chicken with fresh chilli and lemon grass VND 35,000.
Lunch totaled up to VND 97,000 which also included 1 Saigon Beer at VND 15,000 and 1 Coca-Cola at VND 12,000.
Next destination is Cu Chi Tunnels and we paid VND 150,000 for the entrance fee (not included in the tour package) for 2 persons. We were then ushered into a bunker to watch a video on the history of Cu Chi.
Tiger trap, as the name imply, it is used for hunting tigers but during Vietnam War, it was used to trap American soldiers! The bottom of the pit comes with metal spikes but bamboo was the key material during then.
Small camouflage hole which seems impossible for a human to fit it.
Ta-da! A demonstration to show how it’s done – you fit into the hole first, put some leaves on top of the cover, slide down into the hole and cover up. The tour guide mentioned to me that I won’t fit at all. Haha!
Two tunnel path shown here. It’s actually a Y-fork which you can either take the left or the right path.
Ventilation hole for the tunnel. There are many of them spread around so that the enemies can’t suffocate them.
One of the many booby traps. This is the clipping armpit trap, which will actually injure your arm pit if you fall in. Dangerous!
This booby trap is attached behind a door (think with weights too!) and if you open the door, it will slam right into you and the spikes will pierce into your body!
A bunker which showcase how bombs was made during the Vietnam War.
You can pay for bullets at this counter and then fire-off at the firing range. Different weapons such as M16, AK47, M30, etc are available!
Rifles are mounted and can’t move freely so you can rest your mind! No counterstrike goofing around here!
One of the tunnel that is open to tourist to have a feel of wriggling in dark and squeezy space. There are several exits along the way and I did went in to experience. My feedback – it’s hot (might be due to weather) and the space is really tight (maybe of my size & also carrying a backpack). But I still encourage tourists to still go ahead and try!
After don’t-know-how-many-hours of back-breaking bus ride, we are back at De Tham Street in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) around 630pm. First thing I did after I alighted was to grab a cool beer! 🙂
Kim Cafe (272 De Tham), just a few steps away from TheSinhTourist and is popular with both local and foreigners. They serve typical Vietnamese cuisine and is reasonably priced. I noticed this restaurant during my first day in HCMC when I was having dinner at Allez Boo and noted that a lot of customers do patronise them. Told myself that will try the next day. 🙂
Stir Fry Beef with Vegetables.
Vietnamese Chicken Curry – it’s tasty but very oily as well!
Morning Glory with Garlic.
Total for dinner is VND 193,000. Other then the above, our dinner also included 2 steam rice, 2 Saigon (Green) beer at VND 12,000 each and 1 Heineken Beer at VND 20,000.
Lobby area of Elios Hotel. On the left side is the front desk reception. For the rest of the hotel photos, you may want to refer to my last post (A Day in Ho Chi Minh City).
Back at hotel room, my partner having a Blueberry Apple Feuillete at VND 10,000 that we bought along Pham Ngu Lao street (think a few shops away from our hotel).
It was a long and tiring day! The weather didn’t make it any better as the sun was really shining bright. Next day, we will be going for 1 Day Cai Be – Vinh Long via the Mekong Delta (VND 210,000/person) so we went to sleep early. Lookout for the next blog post on “1 Day Cai Be – Vinh Long via the Mekong Delta Tour.”