Tuesday, March 14, 2006


“Where are you going this holiday period?” my colleagues asked.
“Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.”

The responses to my reply were varied yet unified on one point: who in their right minds would want to go to there, they seemed to imply.

“Wah, so brave…” – er, these people do know the Vietnam War is over right?

“You’re not scared of bird flu ah?” – er, no ler, these days the choice is between catching bird flu and being bombed, and given the options, I’ll take the avian threat any day. At least you can tell a chicken when you see one. How do you know who’s a suicide bomber?

“What’s there to do?” – now that’s a good question. I didn’t know either. I’m usually the sort of anal traveller who does a whole lot of reading and research before venturing to a new holiday destination but this had been a relatively last minute spur-of-the-moment kind of decision. I had just enough time to get us on a flight and book us the perfect hotel room (more on this later) but not enough time to figure out an itinerary.

So why were we headed to HCM? Let’s just say there weren’t that many options. Time was running out. According to the SQ online booking facility, tickets to Sydney (our first choice destination) were sold out. Tickets for the Southeast Asian region though were relatively cheap. Bangkok, Bali – been there, done that. HM said, “Let’s try Vietnam”. This coming from someone averse to heat, noise and pollution, I was about to say “You must be joking”. Then again, why look a gift horse in the mouth? I kept quiet. The airfare to Hanoi was twice that of Singapore-Ho Chi Minh City, so Ho Chi Minh City it was.

Footnote: Vietnam veteran Aunt Iris had lots to say about our choice of destination. “You’ll love HCM – lots to eat and lots to buy. Must eat at Pho 24 ah...”


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