Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Our Fabulous Do-It-Your-Own Tri-country Trip (Thailand-Cambodia-Vietnam) - Part 3

When we were in high school, the farthest place that we had been to was in Calamba, Laguna, Jose Rizal’s hometown, during one of our field trips. Being in a public school, we thought that field trips were a luxury. Back then, we could not afford to have leisure travels unlike the teens of our age who were born with silver spoon. Yet, almost 15 years after, here we are, setting our feet on foreign grounds to reward ourselves for not giving up on our dreams. On March 29-April 4, 2017, I and my high school best friends traveled to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam to experience the surprises that these lovely countries had to offer. It was a trip that definitely strengthened our friendship.

April 2, 2017. Millionaires in Vietnam.

                We checked out at 10pm the night before and left Siem Reap via a sleeper bus around 11pm. It was my first time to ride in a sleeper bus, where your seat was actually a bed so you could comfortably sleep! We traveled for six hours and reached Phom Penh at 530am. We waited for another 2 hours for the van and tuktuk that would transfer us to the bus that would bring us to Vietnam.

Affordable Do-It-Yourself Asia Tri-country Travel
Sleeper bus going to Phnom Penh

Affordable Do-It-Yourself Asia Tri-country Travel
Bus from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh

                There were free bottled water inside the bus! We traveled for how many hours until we reached the boundary of Vietnam and Cambodia where we had to get off the bus, pass through the immigration, and return to the same bus. We reached Ho Chi Minh at 245pm and looked for the taxi that would bring us to Vung Tau. The challenge of being in Vietnam was the language. Compared to Thailand and Cambodia where people spoke English quite fluently, conversing with Vietnamese (particularly with those whom we met) was like being in a game of charades!

                From Ho Chi Minh, we traveled to Vung Tau for an hour and a half, without traffic which cost us one million dong ($65). Yes, we’re millionaires in Vietnam! We stayed in Romelies Hotel, a 3-star hotel facing the Vung Tau Beach. We booked a family room with 3 queen sized beds and 2 toilet and baths! We exchanged our Dollars to Dongs with the hotel receptionist, who, thank God, can speak English! The exchange rate was $1 = 2,200 Dongs. So for $10 (or Php 500) I had 220,000 Dong!

Affordable Do-It-Yourself Asia Tri-country Travel
Millionaire in Vietnam!

                We ate at a hole in thewall eatery beside our hotel hoping that the food there would be cheaper than the other well-kept restaurants. Because of the language barrier, the foods that were served to us were different from what we ordered! More than that, when we surveyed other nearby restaurants, their prices were a lot cheaper!

Affordable Do-It-Yourself Asia Tri-country Travel

                At night, we planned to go to a night market. The hotel receptionist told us that we just needed to walk for 15 minutes and we would reach the “night market”. Walking for almost 30 minutes, we did not find any night market! Only a mall that’s open at night, the Imperial Mall. She was probably referring to that!

Affordable Do-It-Yourself Asia Tri-country Travel
The Imperial Plaza, Vung Tau, Vietnam

                We stopped over at Rainbow Yogurt, a yogurt house, and played “Pinoy Henyo”, before we went back to our hotel. We would enjoy the beach the next day!

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At Rainbow Yogurt, Vung Tau, Vietnam

Affordable Do-It-Yourself Asia Tri-country Travel
Playtime at Rainbow Yogurt, Vung Tau, Vietnam

 April 3, 2017. Vung Tau Beach/B*tch.

                The reason why we went to Vung Tau, which was an hour and a half drive from Ho Chi Minh was the beach! Situated along the highway (imagine Manila Bay), it was not as good as the beach in the Philippines. But my girlfriends wanted to flaunt their sexy bodies, so we went there!

Affordable Do-It-Yourself Asia Tri-country Travel
Vung Tau Beach, Vietnam

                Prior to hitting the beach across the hotel, we had our buffet breakfast. We felt so deprived the past few days so we devoured everything that we could! The buffet breakfast in Romelies, I should say, was the best among all the hotels we’d been to!

Affordable Do-It-Yourself Asia Tri-country Travel
Breakfast at last!

                At the beach, we had our usual photoshoot! And man, the people were staring at the bodies of my friends!

                Afterwards, we continued swimming at the swimming pool of Romelies Hotel for about an hour before we prepared for checking out.

                We were driven back to Ho Chi Minh and stayed at 4 Boys, a backpackers’ Inn. The rate was very cheap, around less than a thousand pesos. It’s where we kept our bags and luggages while we went for shopping. Aside from Thailand, Vietnam, I supposed, was another best place to shop! At Saigon Center, I was able to buy a leather laptop bag (Mont Blanc) for less than Php 3,000! Tita Chato, Karen, and Harold, shopped ‘til they dropped! There’s a Nothface bag that I wanted to buy, but was not able to because I was short of money! If somebody I know would go to Vietnam, I’d ask him or her to buy me that bag! Or, I’d probably go back to Vietnam just to shop!

Affordable Do-It-Yourself Asia Tri-country Travel
4 Boys Backpackers Inn

                When we’re done shopping, we found this delicious rice cake along the street. The vendor, upon giving us our orders and receiving our payment, quickly ran away. Perhaps, peddling was prohibited where he previously stayed.

Affordable Do-It-Yourself Asia Tri-country Travel
Yummy rice cakes!

                We packed our things, had our dinner, and got ready to go to the airport. I wasn’t able to buy Starbucks tumbler in Cambodia and Vietnam. In Cambodia, there were only three Starbucks branches and were unable to visit them. In Vietnam, there were only three branches as well and these were not as hit as the other coffee shops in the country. After all, local Vietnamese coffee were far better than Starbucks.

                This trip was indeed, one for the books. While we’re the same high school students at heart, we’re now realizing our dreams together. In the next years, we would continue traveling the world. 


1.)    What is your best experience in Vietnam?

It wasn’t exactly in Vietnam, but the best experience for me was taking the sleeper bus going to Vietnam. I just thought it was so cool! It was a unique experience for sure! It was really long and tiring but I conside it one of the highlights of our trip.

2.)    What is your worst experience in Vietnam?

I wouldn’t say worst but the language barrier was a little tough.

3.)    What is your tip to first time visitors of Vietnam?

Be prepared for the language barrier, but at the same time, have fun! Enjoy the street food (pho soup is a must, of course!) and the shopping!

4.)    Anything you want to say/add?

Do your research before going anywhere. But if it turns out to be not what you expected it to be, still make the most out of it and enjoy the experience. I would love to go back and enjoy yhe rest of the beaches and other beautiful destinations Vietnam has to offer.

5.)    What is your next dream country/destination you want to tour with your friends?

OMG. Europe, please! Or Latin America!

Affordable Do-It-Yourself Asia Tri-country Travel
Cez at the beach!

Read Part 1 and Part 2 here.

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