Friday, July 23, 2010

Korea - The Final Part

Seoul-Ho Chi Mink City-Kuala Lumpur

This was the final night we are spending in Seoul, Korea. The hotel Stay 7 where we are putting up is located on an island which bears many similarities with Manhattan Island in USA. One similarity is it being the business district of Seoul and thus it is also known as Manhattan and there is even Manhattan hotel beside our Stay 7 Hotel.
Since we checked in at almost 9 PM at the hotel and we will be checking out very early the next day, I didn't really have much time to explore the area around the hotel and thus couldn't write much about the area.
The next day we checked out at 7 AM without any breakfast at the hotel as we usually do. Breakfast was arranged at another restaurant en route to the airport. This quite convenient it seems.

Early morning pose infront of the hotel.

Then we rode the bus to the place breakfast. Since we have collected some money among us to tip the helper Mr. Jeung, Tuan haji Shafie was elected to present the gift. I doubt anyone knows how much was collected as we just passed the plastic bag around.

It was a Korean breakfast for us mainly comprising of kimchi and seaweed which I managed to down them all. A half boiled egg and some bread brought by Lucy the tourist guide helped those who can't take the Korean original dish.

On the shelves inside the restaurants are some souvenir samples that can be bought at the shop below. Now I know why we were made to stop at this restaurant. It was the last stop where we could finish our Korean Won or US dollars that we had on us. For those who still need a few more souvenirs to take home, this is the last chance though the price marked were definitely highly marked up. This is a good tactic and Malaysia should emulate it to extract the last bit of money from travellers before they depart for their next destination.
I found this beautiful kitchen knife which was priced at a hefty USD 35.00 an amount I could easily pay for a Victorinox. Well since we have quite a bit of unspent budget, we bought it. The knife is beautiful to look at as well as very sharp.

We bought a 24 carat plated plate with the Korean symbol.

It has found a place among our collection of plates.

We landed at Ho Chi Minh City airport.

A local tourist guide took us in a bus to our hotel.

A beautiful Pagoda along the way.

Poster of what is showing at the movies. This shows the film industry in Vietnam is still thriving.

Instead of taking us direct to the hotel, we were taken to a shop selling all sort of food. The main item was coffee. I recalled reading somewhere that not all Vietnam coffee is halal because some people roasted the bean in lard. I told my other half about it but she seemed to pooh pooh what I said. I abstained from drinking the coffee and had tea instead. She loves coffee and tasted her Vietnam coffee and fortunately she did not buy any to take home seeing that I wasn't drinking it despite my love for coffee.
Later somebody told her that Vietnam coffee are like the 'kopi musang' in Indonesia where the best coffee comes through the backside of the musang. That I concurred and made her angry that i did not tell her earlier. Hey didn't I try to caution her?

There were all sort of things they tried to sell to our group but not many of us were interested as many of us had already decided on what things to buy at Ben Than market.
We checked in into our hotel.
Tan hai Long Hotel is quite close to Ben Than Market and all we need is to walk to it.
The hotel room is cosy and the internet connection is good and free.
Some of the ladies wanted to buy 'telekong' (prayer robefor ladies). For that we were taken on a very short unnecessary bus ride. I guess the tour guide wanted to mislead into thinking that the place was far from the hotel and thus we would not be able to go on our own. Going on our own will mean cutting off his commission, a real necessity for him in this business.
While waiting for the wife to buy the 'telekung', there was a sudden electrical outage in the area. Then suddenly we saw some outlets bringing out standby generators. Such power failures seems to be a normal thing in Vietnam or at leat in Ho Chi Minh City.
A 14 year old girl was accosting me to buy some beautiful fans. She was selling them at USD10 for 10. Though I didn't want to buy them, she was persistent and hang around me like a lost cat. I tried to get her to go by taking a picture of her which she avoided by opening the fan across her face.

Sensing that she could make me buy her items by letting me take her picture, she brought the fan down. Ain't she pretty?

We walked back to the hotel. on the way we stopped at Ben Than market. There are lots of things you can buy in the market. make sure you stop there when you are in Saigon. This is how the market look from afar.

Dinner that night was again at the 4 Season restaurant, a restaurant operated by the Champa Malays. Told you the food there was so so.

That night it was another round of shopping at the street market around the Ben Than market close to the hotel. Some of the stalls were at the doorsteps of the hotel at the back entrance.

Here the other half is buying some T shirts for the male family members. price are cheap and the quality acceptable though the brands are obviously fake.

Initially we bought the yellow wooden container. Later when it was almost closing time, your truly was made to rush down to buy the more colorful one to make a pair.

This is how the city look at night near the hotel.

Pretty paintings on hotel walls. How I wish I could explore the city for such art work. Saigon is city with many talented artists, only one must know where to go.

We were up quite early the next day. We were checking out after having breakfast at the hotel. While waiting for our bus to coma, we spent sometime at the free internet station available at the hotel lobby. Below Aizat and his mum were using the internet too. They almost missed the flight home as his father Mohamad Yusoff had ofted to use the safety deposit box provided in our room to keep their passport. The box refused to open up and the hotel could not assist them despite calling for an expert. They had to wait for the supplier in Bangkok to come into office to give further instruction. Later a master password was received from Bangkok and they managed to open the box. They had to take a taxi to the airport as the bus could not wait for them. Luckily they were still in time to catch the flight home.

As usual the roads in saigon is teeming with motorbikes.

The wearing of safety helmets is now mandatory in Vietnam. hence you can see them being sold by the roadside.
Coffee corners are available around the city for breakfast. locals have their breakfast there before going to work.
The parks are used for recreation and exercise by the locals.
Finally our Tour Leader Norma representing POTO Travel and Tours Sdn Bhd, thanked the group for travelling wiith the company.

Pak Zawi slouching on a bench while waiting for the flight home. Though tiring, we did enjoy this trip to Korea which included stop overs in Saigon.


Temuk said...

Salam Pak Zawi
Lovely pictures & thanks for sharing. Seronok ya (walau letih sekejap) melihat negara orang. Jauh berjalan banyak pandangan, lama hidup banyak dirasa. Jaga-jaga Pak Zawi, satu hari nanti lepas keluar-keluar negara lagi, balik-balik tak cukup ruang utk pinggan hiasan! Have a nice day!

Pak Zawi said...

Memang seronok melancung terutama bagi pak Zawi yang tak pernah berpeluang menjejak kaki ke luar negara semasa muda. Alhamdulillah pintu rezeki terbuka dihujung perjalanan hidup.
Kalau tak cukup ruang untuk barangan koleksi, pak Zawi akan bina satu bilik khas untuknya.
Have a nice day yourself.

Tommy Yewfigure said...

Hey Pak Zawi, that coffee is similar to the famous Indonesia Kopi Luwak (Civet coffee). I must give it to their marketing to make it to be the most expensive designer high end coffee (fancy paying AUD50/cup). And the packaging is so impressive too.

Like u, the fact that we know where it came from, doesn’t really seems so appealing to our palate…kakaka. According to wikipedia, the version in Vietnam is called ‘ca phe chon’ (weasel coffee - chemically simulated versions are also produced.) .

Sorry, Mrs Zawi I didn't mean for this info upset u. (Hubby knows best lah :))


Pak Zawi said...

is it that expensive aaa? I don't think it was civet's coffee as it was served to us for free.
I believe the civet's coffee is better because of the better selection of the beans. The civet will only pick on ripe beans compared to a mixture of ripe and under ripe beans when handpicked. So the coffee will definitely taste better.
Don't worry The Mrs don't read this blog :).

SuKEJunpyo said...

Jeles lah ngan pak bleh p melancong kat korea..

P/s: Luv ur entry, syiok di bace.

Pak Zawi said...

Jangan jeles, start saving from now for your trip to Korea. One day you will you have enough to pay for the trip.

JHaZKiTaRo said...

salam.. blog hopping.. singgah2 la blog hamba kalau nak baca pengalaman hamba mengembara di 45 BUAH NEGARA.. :)

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

What a vibrant blogpost on your Korea-Vietnam jaunt, Abang Zawi! Glad you could post in your original blog again. Love your collection of plates. Kimchi gives me a headache, as does Vietnamese coffee. Vietnamese coffee is too strong for me... adoi, macam minum ubat.

chiabh said...

hi zawi...

your comment on the koreans taking your last korean won at your final breakfast stop reminds me of the las vegas airport... the lv airport has slot machines that will swallow even the smallest us coin denominations so that they literally wipe you clean before you leave the sin city...

when i last visited hcm city many years ago, the banks were closed during lunch hour, just like our bank islam now, which is closed on friday lunch hours for prayers... don't know whether it is the same now in hcm city... will hope to go to hcm city in the near future to find out...


AWANG said...

Salam Pak Zawi,
I miss viewing this part (Korea-Final).Thanks for sharing this lovely trip.I like most of the pictures.