Vietnam (part 1) + Cambodia Photo Travelogue

Believe it or not, my Asian adventure is more than halfway over! I’ve had so much fun and seen so many things so far, and many more cool things are on the “to-see” agenda!

After my family and I left Hong Kong, we traveled to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. We went to Ho Chi Minh because 1) it’s cool, 2) why not?, and 3) my aunt and uncle (who my immediate family and I are traveling with) live there.

Evening of Day 6 (of the trip as a whole, see this post for previous day itineraries): We arrived in Vietnam via airplane. We checked into our hotel, the Luxe, and unpacked. Then we walked to a fun Lebanese restaurant for dinner called Beirut! My mom and I split a mezzo platter, which is a hodge-podge of tabbouleh, falafel, hummus, picked veggies, and other lebanese dishes served with naan bread. We also watched belly dancers as we ate, which was an interesting experience.

Day 7: We ate a buffet breakfast at the hotel, then walked to the busy Ben Thanh market. Here is a word picture of the market: A bunch of stalls are jam-packed under the roof of a warehouse-type building. Stalls sell tacky tourist t-shirts and other clothing, jewelry, bowls and plates, knock-off handbags and shoes, and food. Every inch of space is utilized either for items or for people walking. Vendors call out to you, “Mam! Sir! Buy this!” Bartering is the only way you should buy things. Stinky fish smells permeates the air. It’s overwhelming, but something that you must experience at least once in your life! We ate lunch at a Western restaurant, Au Parc, which had amazing food. I drank a yummy banana + cinnamon smoothie and ate a delicious beet/bean/cranberry salad. After lunch we hung out and wandered District 1. We went to OMG! rooftop bar for drinks, then to Khothai for dinner, where I tried a nose-clearing curry.

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looking around one of the many stalls in Ben Thanh market

Day 8: After breakfast at the hotel again, we walked around District 1. The city is split into 24 districts. We saw Notre Dame Cathedral (it looks just like the one in Paris), the gigantic Post Office, buildings with beautiful European-style architecture, and some shops. We ate lunch at Au Parc again (it was that good)! After lunch, we traversed to the Reunification Palace, which was the President of South Vietnam’s house before and during the Vietnam War. Then we went to the War Memorial museum, which was disturbing. Lots of gruesome pictures, planes, tanks, and propaganda. Sufficient to say that it wasn’t my kind of place.We walked to another market, then to The Sushi Bar for dinner. We ate in our own private room, and I tried edamame beans, vegetarian sushi, and veggie dragon rolls. They were tasty and inexpensive (the best kind of food)!

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Notre Dame

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the Post Office

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Reunification Palace

ay 9:We woke up at 4:45 AM for a 8 AM 3 hour flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia. When we arrived, we checked into our fancy hotel, Le Méridien, and went to lunch at Palmboo. We tried local food such as mango/papaya/pepper salad, curried vegetables, and tom yum soup. We also bartered for some Cambodian clothing. Then we went ZIPLINING. It was SUPER FUN. We also saw a wild tarantula! We went back to the hotel, which had a pool and a workout facility so I finally got to work out! We ate dinner inside the hotel, and it wasn’t very good. Thankfully, it’s one of the only bad meals I’ve had on the trip so far!

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Day 10: We woke up at 4:45 AM again, this time to see the sunrise at Angkor Watt temple. The sunrise was not as good as I thought it was going to be. The sky just went from a dark blue to a light blue. We ate breakfast at a nearby café, then spent the rest of the morning wandering around Angkor Watt. It’s amazing. It’s huge and so ornate. We also took a tuk-tuk (a motorcycle with a cart for sitting attached behind it) to Bayon Watt. Bayon Watt is a compound of three other impressive old temples. We stopped to eat lunch and rest our tired feet. Then we saw one last temple, which was actually in the movie Tomb Raider! There were trees growing out of the temple ruins! It was so so cool. We lounged by the pool after our 8+ hours of sightseeing, then went to Mahob restaurant for dinner. I tried spring rolls for the first time!

angkor watt and air balloon

Angkor Watt

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a wild monkey came right up to us at Angkor Watt!!!

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Bayon Watt

Day 11: We ate breakfast at FCC Club. Then we went back to the hotel and packed our bags for Boracay. We rented bikes from the hotel and biked around Siem Reap! We wandered through a market and bargained for some fun clothing. We ate lunch at The Soup Dragon, and I tried amok, a traditional curry dish, with veggies. I ordered fruit sorbet for dessert because why not. We biked around some more and met a monk who wanted to bless us. We went back to the hotel and swam and hung out. We went to another Cambodian food restaurant for dinner, and I tried vegetable tempura for the first time. It was really yummy. We went to the airport after dinner and hung out there until our flight left at 11:20 pm after being delayed. Next stop: Boracay, Philippines!

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Boracay was super nice too, and I am excited to post about our 4 days there (including Christmas!). I am in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam as I write this. I have had a lot of fun so far, and can’t wait to have more fun!

I hope you had a fun Christmas too! Happy New Year already!

xx Ellie

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