PP to Vietnam and back --Part 2 PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 07 December 2010 17:12

Phnom Penh, Cambodia -- The bus terminal in HCM is in an area which might be the equivalent of the Ermita area in Manila, where travel agency offices, small tourist hotels, coffee shops and souvenir shops abound. We simply crossed the street from where our bus stopped and walked into a very well-known travel agency office. We arranged for our trip to Hanoi by plane, after realizing that a land trip would simply be too long. We would have wanted to fly Hanoi to Siem Reap in Cambodia for the return trip but we were told it would be much more expensive than flying back to HCM. Not being flush with dollars we opted for the cheaper way.
There was an 8:30 pm flight on Vietnam Air that same day and so we bought a package which included RT plane tickets HCM/Hanoi/HCM, hotel room in Hanoi, a day-long  excursion to Ha Long Bay, and taxi from and to the Hanoi airport. Since we still had a couple of hours before the flight we deposited our hand carried luggage in the agency office and went around HCM.
An Dong market is one of those Divisoria-type markets but it was too hot and the alleys too tight so we didn’t stay long there. We moved to a shopping plaza nearby but there was nothing we really wanted to buy then. Besides we didn’t want to lug things around on the  trip to Hanoi. We took a cab to the area of the Notre Dame Cathedral and walked and gawked like any tourist even if we had been in that area on previous trips. We chose a nice restaurant which offered its fare as though you were buying from food stalls. We tended to choose those items which looked “Vietnamese” – no fried chicken or anything like that. One item we chose was big snails – escargot -- but they turned out to be a bit tough. Vietnamese spring rolls are always a delight – everything in the wrapper being fresh (raw) and the wrapper itself so thin and soft. For dessert we had a concoction similar to our own halo-halo.
While we had plenty of time before the flight we chose to go early to the airport and it was a good thing we did. Rush hour in HCM is even worse than in Manila and the drive to the airport is a good 40 minutes or so, in smooth traffic. On the way to the airport the taxi came to intersections in which there appeared to be gridlocks and so the driver  had to go to a side street to continue.
We got to the airport in good time though and the domestic section of the airport is pretty big, with a lot of passengers waiting for their flights. We thought our aircraft would be a small one but it turned out to be one of those modern huge Airbus models, eight seats across, and quite full. The flight took 2 hours. --By REMEDIOS F. MARMOLEÑO