ngày một (Day 1)

Before sleeping last night, Mom insisted that the alarm clock should ring at 0445 this morning. She’s afraid that we will be late and miss our flight. I obliged and since Mom is not familiar with my flip-phone alarm function, I make a note mentally to wake up at that time to switch the alarm off and so not to disturb Dad)

Things do not go as plan. Mom woke up at around 3 plus in the morning and I follow suit. Stupid reflex action! Dad follow suit. Talking about going to the Singapore Zoo in 2012 to see Pandas from China? We are the 3 ready-made ones. Mom and I had a slice of bread (with butter) each and 2 slices for Dad (butter with peanut butter). Both of them had Kopi-O and I opted for water.

Doing some last-minute checks to see if we have left anything important out. Left the house at 0600 to catch a cab and to avoid incurring the midnight surcharge. Guess what, the start time was 0601! Hehe.

Departing Singapore
Sat 09 Oct 2010
0725 hr / 7:25 am
Changi Airport Terminal 1
Flight number 3K555
JetSaver Light *

The numbers: 1 luggage weighing 9.1 kg for a family of 3 on a 4 day trip. This is far from the 30 kg allowed (10 kg of carry on luggage per passenger traveling on JetSaver Light). The queue at the  Jetstar check-in counter is always long for any flight. I’m relieved that they opened another counter to lessen the load of the sole counter operating for our flight so that all passengers can check-in before the stipulated cut-off time, if not, there is no refund.

Rush hour! “Boarding pass MUST be presented at gate C18 no later than 0655” Heck cares, can be slightly late as there are many passengers and the security checks do take up some time. But we entered on the dot.

It’s the second time that I’m taking a Jetstar flight. Any chance of me becoming an ambassador? Haha, I’m only joking. Terence and his friend, Uncle Tiong are taking Tiger Airways,  flight TR 2326, departing at 0735, from the budget terminal. Although theoretically, we should reach Tan Son Nhat International Airport – International Terminal 10 minutes before the 2, they were the one who arrived first. The difference in distance of runway that has to be traveled before take off was the main reason. It was longer for JetStar. Traveling time was 1 hour 40 minutes.

The skies of Singapore

For a less developed country, I have always imagine Vietnam to be dirty, poor, *described negatively using adjectives*. The airport is clean, so does the toilets. Spacious due to the lack of shops, there are only less than 10 offering services such as hotel, cabs and the changing of currency.

SGD → USD → VND can be quite a hassle with the first 2 steps done in Singapore and the last in Vietnam. SGD → VND is much more convenient. I didn’t see any coins, just notes, of values VND 500,000; 200,000; 100,000; 50,000; 20,000; 10,000. The exchange rate at the airport is better as compared to the pawn/gold shops, stark contrast from the past. Dad got 1 SGD : 15350 VND whereas Terence only managed 1 SGD : 15220 VND.

The 5 of us took a 7-seater cab and headed directly to Dai Hoang Gia Hotel in District 7, which we will be in during our stay in Vietnam, other than Uncle Tiong, who will be staying at his Vietnamese wife’s house. During the half-an-hour long journey, the effects of not having enough sleep began to show. I raised my hands when Terence talks about “Pedicure”. Also forgetting the 1 hour difference in time.

VIP!

Deprived of the necessary food and beverage that we need, we decided to have our brunch after leaving our luggage in our rooms, 305 and 405. And did you know that my family and Terence are assigned the VIP room of the respective floors? *grins* There’s one VIP room on every floor. VIP should mean “Very Important Person” in this case right? It’s gonna be embarrassing for me if it turns out to be of another meaning.

The rainy season of Vietnam is about to end (lasts till October) but it didn’t leave us alone. It started to pour and thus we couldn’t travel far and can only settle for food from roadside stalls. Perhaps I’m really starving, I gobbled down the simple home-cooked fare (or maybe worse than that). The water-boiled Kampong chicken was similar to rubber, too hard and chewy. To make things worse, a small part of my gum is swollen and I could only rely on my right mouth to make it into smaller pieces. There are also fried eggs, fried bean curd, stir-fried bean sprout, fish soup and some tom yum soup variant. If you want chili, you have to eat the entire chili instead of cut ones. It’s gotta be spicy! Not a delectable meal yet it was sufficient to quieten our grumbling tummies.

Typical if you are sleeping in a hotel room with the air conditioner operating at 17°C.

Since Uncle Tiong’s wife needs time to assign her work and to work out the itinerary for us, we had time to rest. Having a soothing bath before hitting the bed.

Heartwarming to see and taste Kentucky in a foreign land!

Terence went to have his cheapo all-in-one service (around 2 SGD comprising of haircut, facial wash and ear waxing) at the Lotteria shopping mall. It’s really sweet of him to get for us 2 Zinger burgers, 2 packets of french fries, 2 cups of Pepsi and 2 chicken parts from KFC! He bought 2 Zingers for himself. Duh~ Big-sized eater.

Sky starts to darken at about 5 pm (local time, 6 pm Singapore time). Uncle Tiong and wife, together with their son, Kang Kang, came to pick us up for dinner in a cab.

Dinner time!

Repeat telecast of Real Madrid thrashing Deportivo La Coruna, 6-1. It's obvious as to which guy is chasing after the ball.

Pepsi in glass bottle! Nostalgia~

Delicacy - Roast Suckling Pig with crunchy bread

Vietnamese men loves beer - no doubt

With majority of the patrons being males, the voluptuous female attendees were scantily clad, showing off their hourglass figure and cleavage. No pictures to prove what I say because I was more interested in food and the television screen then.

Big durians for sale!

Vietnamese wife, son Kang Kang and Uncle Tiong

After all our stomachs were occupied with food, it’s time to head back to the hotel by cab. Meanwhile, we detoured to buy the big buns with fillings.

The box

Bun with many kinds of fillings uncommon of normal buns

tốt đêm! (= Good night! in Vietnamese)

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