Thursday, April 9, 2015

Farewell Saigon (off we go to Saigon Railway Station)

Date: 30th December 2014

Not knowing a specific reason, I had a sentimental value of the Saigon city and it's people. It must be due to series of war happening in Vietnam that has so much sadness in it. I must say that Vietnamese people, having a truly Asian values has touch my heart in so many ways. Though I did not plan to return back to this city, this place has no doubt created a memory in my travelogue. For instance, a photo of a family hanging out at Saigon Railway station that I used as a background, below with the rail head as an object has sensible "belonging" atmosphere, i.e. "this is my country, the place I belong, a place I called home, being a citizen of this city made me so proud off etc". Remark: 2 photos below is snapped at Saigon Railway station in District 3.

By the way, it was our last few hours in Saigon before we need to vacate the room by 6pm. When we got back to the hotel from Cho Benh Thanh at about 2pm, we get our luggage all packed, ready to go to the next city, Hanoi. I was overly excited with the thought of being inside the famous Reunification Express that being on my search list since January 2012, in about a few more hours to go. It would be the longest ride ever since we off on the train rides mission with our bag, i.e. earthbound travel adventure. The best part is having to compromise with my travelling buddy, Anne, who has willingly sacrifice her time instead of flying (faster way). Train ride is obviously a slower travel pace.
Serve a Muslim food but close for business when we knocked on

We had both prayers done (noon and before dawn obligatory prayers) before heading out to get the halal food (we actually were aiming for Indian traditional meal at Tandoori restaurant). Slightly before 4pm, we headed out by foot, relying only on the city map to look for Tandoori Restaurant. After searching in a pleasant walk and by stopping strangers in between to ask for direction, we finally found the Tandoori restaurant. Before that, we made a stop at the bread shop, "Tous les Jours". We bought various selection of breads and buns to eat in the train. The meals in Tandoori fine dining restaurant is slightly expensive than what we usually experienced.

We cleared the room right at 6pm, hanging out at Cherry Hotel lobby till about 8.00pm. We asked the reception to call for a cab. Should you in the city, please use Vinasun Taxi service as they charge at market fare rates using meter. Rest assured that you will not get cheated by their taxi driver. Saigon Railway Station is a railway station in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. This station is the largest and most important railway hub in the country due to Ho Chi Minh City being the largest city and the economic centre of Vietnam. We arrived in less than 20 minutes from District 1.

As information shared in earlier entry, the original station was located across from Benh Thanh Market in District 1 and the current station, was originally a baggage holding and shipping centre, being constructed in the early 1930s by the French colonists, as part of the Hanoi-Saigon Railway. The station is situated around 1 km from the downtown city centre. Due to the requirements of urban planning, the city government is considering the relocation of this station to the city outskirt in Binh Trieu (Binh Trieu Railway Station). 

Every year, 1 or 2 months before Tet (Vietnamese Lunar new year), there are always thousands of people queuing here all day to buy tickets home as this is the main booking office of Vietnam Railway Station Corporation, though electronic booking machines have been adopted, these queues continue due to the monopoly. Another more convenient booking office is located at 275c Pham Ngo Lao. Despite the city being named Ho Chi Minh City after the war, the name of the station has remained the same as ever.

As the train will not departed till 10.00am, basically having to kill about more than 1 hour, we chose to order coffee in the Nguyen Coffee shop located inside the station. We make use of their free wifi, feeling exhausted with too much internet. The entrance door was locked and only open about 30 minutes before departure time. Once it was open, I was enjoying my time at the station whilst other passengers were busy loading their belonging. I left Anne inside the coach and hunting for more photos inside and the surrounding including the end tail of the train. It was funny.

When it was time to depart, we both changed into our pyjama, toilet routine before bed time, make sure everything is lock (you can actually lock the cabin) and ready to sleep. The cabin is very comfortable for our needs. Will continue next with more details of the train rides in this Saigon Express. 

Remarks: Apology for not-so-sharp images of the photo.
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