Saturday, December 28, 2013

Best of a Travelife 2013: A girls' long weekend in Ho Chi Minh at the New World Hotel



As 2014 approaches, we look back on the amazing year that was and remember the best of 12 months of truly wonderful travels and fabulous adventures. 

Thank you for following us on our never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.

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A WEEKEND IN HO CHI MINH

In 2013, I did so many trips that I've lost count of them.

However, one of the most fun long weekends I had was a girls' trip to Ho Chi Minh, a destination only two hours away in terms of travel time, but completely different in culturevibe and atmosphere.




We decided to do a girls' weekend in HCM after I chanced upon a e-flyer sent out by the New World Saigon, detailing an Arts and Culinary Package for two nights over a weekend.

It included a nice mealvisits to art galleries, and a weekend stay at their hotel.



ANOTHER GOOD EXCUSE
FOR A TRAVELIFE

The price was right -- or maybe reasonable is the more appropriate term -- and I hadn't been to Vietnam in over 15 years. So this was exactly the good excuse I needed to get on a plane and re-explore HCM.

Fortunately, Sandee was game.


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SEE YOU AT 
THE TRAVELIFE ROCKWELL TRAVEL FAIR
January 17 - 19, 2014
for some fantastic travel bargains



And that's how we ended up in Vietnam sometime in March on a (long) girls' weekend of foodshopping and culture. And a couple of massages.

HCM'S GRAND OLD DAME

I really liked the New World Hotel.

It's old, as it's HCM's first five-star hotel.

The lobby of the New World Saigon


In fact, when I was here last, the New World Hotel was still under construction. Either that's how long I haven't been to Vietnam, or that's how old the hotel is. Can you imagine that?

But even for finicky me, it was a very well maintained hotel that has aged gracefully. I honestly couldn't find anything to complain about.

That's an installation artwork at one of HCM's most cutting-edge galleries...



It's also still the hotel of choice for foreign dignitaries and government guests, even if there are lots of other new hotels in the city.

TOP-NOTCH SERVICE

The hotel's director of marketing and director of F&B dropped by to say hello.
The F&B director was already off work, as well...
Talk about great service here.


The staff were really warm and friendly, too.

When some of the senior management personnel found out that we were two girls on our own for a weekend, they went out of their way to ensure that we were comfortable and having a good time.

The New World Saigon Culinary Arts Package has a choice of regular rooms or club floor rooms - obviously with different prices.

This is the club lounge...

We paid up for the club rooms and I think it was worth it.

Breakfast wasn't a very busy affair, as it undoubtedly would have been in the main restaurant.

We also had some place to retire to for a drink after a long day out (shopping), or before dinner.

GREAT FOOD INCLUDING STREET FOOD
AND FRESH SHRIMPS

The food at the New World Saigon's restaurants were pretty good as well.

This was our exact meal. Delicious.

The package came with a Vietnamese street food dinner served in a beautiful lacquer tray laden with all kinds of dishes.

It was almost too pretty eat, so of course we took lots of photos before digging in.

And when we finally started eating, we were happy to discover that it was incredibly good.

SAIGON STREET FOOD:
THE LUXE WAY



When we were there, our food tray included a really hearty vegetable soup, the ubiquitous fresh spring rolls and fried spring rolls, and  a choice either of a delicious grilled pork dish or a delicious grilled fish dish.

The entire dinner was very satisfactory.


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SEE YOU AT 
THE TRAVELIFE ROCKWELL TRAVEL FAIR
January 17 - 19, 2014
for some fantastic travel bargains


AN EQUALLY DELICIOUS BUFFET LUNCH

The next day, not feeling very adventurous after spending an entire morning shopping, we headed to the hotel coffee shop for a late lunch.

The buffet was on, so we decided to have this instead.

Yes, those were all for me...


What a nice buffet this was.

They had juicy oysters and very fresh river shrimps. I don't even like shrimps, and yet this was all I was eating from the buffet.

Those were all for me too...
It was that good.

Apparently the shrimps are picked fresh daily, and then they're set up by the meat and seafood station so that diners can have these cooked any way they wish.

We happened to chance upon the executive chef in the restaurant, and he suggested grilling these shrimps and simply serving these with a little salt, butter and a squeeze of lime.



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This was exactly what we did. And we never looked back again after that.

Sandee and I did a lot of interesting things in HCM.

We dined at HCM's fanciest French restaurant (where I bumped into some friends from Manila!) and went to all the cutting-edge art galleries. We even met Vietnam's most famous fashion designer.

It was one of my favorite weekend trips, in a year full of wonderful weekends, in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.



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