Posts Tagged ‘vacation’

This is my way of reminding myself of the little things that recently made me happy as inspired by Helga.

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I almost did not push through with this week’s happy list because the past 5 days has been all sorts of tough. Work is outrageously busy and challenging, it’s sucking the life out of me. I’m also having post-holiday anxiety, and birthday blues, and the weather is so gloomy, and I’m getting my period soon so my emotions are going batshit crazy. I honestly struggled to complete this week’s list but got it done anyway.

  1. My 4-day visit to Bohol last week. It was raining most of our time there due to the major typhoon that passed through our country but we took it as an opportunity to relax and take multiple naps a day.
  2. My parents sent me a care package from Ilocos. The box was full with food that I love – Ilocos garlic longganisa, bagnet, morcon, and a bunch of avocadoes and dragon fruit from our very own backyard.
  3. Grabcar. I never need to worry about my ticking taxi meter in traffic because Grabcar sets a fixed rate for a desired destination immediately upon booking. This means avoiding drivers asking for additional charge on top of meter rate just because there’s traffic jams everywhere.
  4. Colleagues giving me food and coffee. For no apparent reason, people at work has been giving me food and treating me out for coffee runs. Maybe they know that I’m stressed hehe.
  5. Cris buying me food LOL. He always sees to it that he brings me home some food every time he eats out. What a sweetie.
  6. Supportive friends. As I mentioned above, work has really been very challenging and I have been doubting myself lately. But my good friends reminded me to not be too hard on myself. Awwww I love you guys!
  7. Cris buying groceries. I have been working extra late this week, hence I don’t really have time to get some essentials from the supermarket. I’m glad he’s dependable enough to pick up my momentary slack.
  8. Packed lunches for work. My mom sent me lots of ulam from the province so I always have some to bring at work.
  9. Becky Nights public chat on Viber. LOL I just like seeing how the beckies interact with one another.
  10. Soba noodles. Japanese food is life! Today, we had lunch at Nadai Fujisoba and I had my usual hot soba again. Hay naku #thisiswhyimfat.

 

When I visited Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, I made sure that I would have my fill of their infamous pho or Vietnamese noodle soup. I was hellbent on trying as much pho as I could that it was actually my first meal in Vietnam (our breakfast in Ben Thanh Market). But there was one restaurant that made its mark on me, mainly because their noodle soup was really good.

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The restaurant was just an accidental discovery but it was already way past lunch time and it was the only restaurant we spotted around the area. We didn’t know anything about the place but we bit the bullet and went in anyway. Upon entering, I was appeased when I saw one wall plastered with photos of locals enjoying their food. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if locals frequent the place, yeah?

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When we got seated, we were immediately served with some sort of pastry. We weren’t exactly sure if they were complimentary but Timmy was too hungry to bother so she went ahead and ate one. I was saving room for my main meal so I only took a small bite off of hers. It was actually delicious! The pastry was flaky, and the filling (which I suspect to be minced pork) was tasty and savory.

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Also on the table were the usual accompaniment for pho – mung sprouts, cilantro and chives. There were also some additional condiments like garlic oil, sliced peppers, marinated garlic and three types of sauces that I honestly didn’t use so I never got to identify them.

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After a short while, our orders were served. Timmy and I got the same thing which had everything on it. Wantons, shrimp, pork balls, and egg noodle soup. My favorite part was the “pork chops” which were actually boiled pork reminiscent of our very own nilaga. The pork pieces were so delightfully tender and the broth was really tasty. I think the dish cost around ~Php120, honestly a fair price for such good quality.

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If I ever have the chance to go back to Ho Chi Minh, I would definitely pay this restaurant another visit. If you’re going to HCMC, this is a must-try! It’s around 8 minutes by foot from Ben Thanh Market.

Check out my previous posts on my Indochina trip here:

Late last year, Cris and I visited Cebu. It was my second time in the city, and a first for Cris. I actually saw Fort San Pedro during my first Cebu trip but I wanted to show Cris the usual Cebu City Tour – which I think always includes this stop.

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Fort San Pedro used to be a military defence structure built by the Spaniards. The fort is triangular in shape, with two sides facing the sea and the third fronting land. It has been slowly restored throughout the years and the main building now functions as the Cebu Office of the Department of Tourism.

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The lieutenant’s quarters now houses a small museum which was not yet there during my visit in 2010. The museum holds a small collection of Spanish artefacts such as paintings, sculptures, documents and miniature models of different boats used in the olden days.

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The fort is built of stone mortar and during restoration, coral stones were hauled from under the sea along Cebu coastal towns to restore it as close to the original as possible. Fourteen cannons used to be mounted all over the fort and most of those are actually still in the area (albeit being nonfunctional).

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There really isn’t much to do inside Fort San Pedro but it is a good place to relax and people watch. It is also perfect for intimate conversations as the place is pretty quiet and solemn.

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After walking around the observatory roof garden, we circled back down to the inner courtyard. I learned that the yard also serves as an open air theater. Too bad there were no shows during both of my visits.

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When it started to get dark, we made our way out of the fort. I must say I love the look of the place better at night thanks to the yellow flourescent lights. It appears to be more mellow and somber with the night light but I could see how it could also be creepy to some.

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Fort San Pedro may not be as grand as other forts in the country but I think it is still worth the visit. There is a minimal fee of Php30 for adults, and Php20 for students.

The Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) Fine Arts Museum is only a few blocks away from the famous Ben Thanh Market. After our filling breakfast inside Ben Thanh Market, we lugged our bags and made our way to the museum. Towards the same direction is Le Cong Kieu Street, a whole strip of stores selling antiques. It was still too early for our visit as most of the stores were still closed. Those that are open had moody owners who shooed us away when we tried to take photos. LOL OK then. Moving on…

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The Fine Arts Museum of Ho Chi Minh City is one of the largest fine arts centers of Vietnam. The building that houses the museum is a yellow-white grand colonial-era mansion that is a combination of French and Chinese styles.

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The museum covers three floors and it focuses on collecting, keeping, preserving and displaying fine artworks typical of Vietnamese people, especially of Ho Chi Minh City.

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The first floor hosts rotating exhibits of domestic and international contemporary art. The second floor is where paintings and sculptures of Vietnamese and non-Vietnamese artists are displayed. The third floor holds a collection of historic art ranging from the 7th to early 20th century.

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I was quite impressed with the variety of mother-of-pearl inlaid woods on display. There were also lots of interesting woodcut paintings and wood sculptures.Below are some of my favorites.

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And for some reason, I am quite drawn to anything with faces of elder-looking men and women. Below are some carvings and sculptures with hauntingly beautiful faces.

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And then there are these heart-wrenching family themed sculptures. They’re not necessarily all sad-looking but I guess I just associate it with war and death and the separation it inevitably brings.

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And below are some of my favorite paintings and caricatures which focus on the Vietnamese resistance to various colonial rulers. I especially loved that of a woman supposedly in the middle of a battle. Girl power!

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As I mentioned above, the first floor is home to rotating galleries of various artists. During our visit, artworks of local children were on display. Isn’t the one on top just creepy? Haha. What could have inspired a little kid to draw bodies floating down a river?

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Finally, I feel like this certain image is what Vietnam is most popular of. I am now so pissed off that I did not buy a painting featuring a Vietnamese woman. Maybe when I go back *fingers crossed*

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Entrance fee to the HCMC Fine Arts Museum is only at 10,000 Vietnamese Dong (only around Php21) so it is a shame to pass up on a really cheap and entertaining side trip.

Have you been to the HCMC Fine Arts Museum? What were your favorites?

I didn’t plan on making a separate entry for this restaurant but I remember how happy we felt to have found a place to eat good Thai food at a very cheap price (relative to Phuket’s prices.) Suksabai Restaurant is just a few blocks away from our hotel, Rambuttri Village Inn.  We didn’t know anything about this place before choosing to eat here so our food were all happy accidents.

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Lorraine had this spicy seafood pasta dish. We were all quite surprised to see this type of pasta because we are used to using macaroni shells on our desserts here in the Philippines. The dish packed a lot of spice, a good way to perk us up before we go out to explore Bangkok. It could have used a tad more seafood slices if you ask me, but Lorraine seemed to be content with her dish.

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Allan opted for the seafood fried rice. It was also quite tasty and really spicy. Allan didn’t even bother ordering another dish because this was rice + viand in one, they were quite generous with the shrimp and fish pieces. 

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I on the other hand, being the soup addict that I am, had to get something with well… soup. LOL. It was very hot that day but I just couldn’t help myself. I don’t even understand this addiction haha. My food was also quite good! The soup was hearty, the chicken slices were tender and the veggies tasted fresh. I loved it!

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Suksabai Restaurant is a nice place to hang out and people watch since it is just right on the side of the road. The atmosphere was really nice and I heard they have live music in the evening. Sounds like fun!

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After the Phuket leg of our Thailand trip, we boarded an overnight bus that would take us to Bangkok. It was bittersweet; I would finally be able to explore Bangkok but will be leaving behind the serenity of Phuket. Nevertheless, I was more than excited to partake of what Bangkok has to offer. Let me start with our hotel: Rambuttri Village Inn.

Rambuttri Village Inn is near Khao San Road where most of the backpackers and budget travelers gravitate towards to, especially at night. It is strategically located at the more quiet and less crowded Soi Rambuttri. However, it is quite far from any train station but we honestly didn’t mind.

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We arrived early in the morning and as expected, our room wasn’t available yet. We killed some time at a nearby Burger King where we also had breakfast. When we got back to the hotel, we still had to wait a little while for our room. We didn’t mind because the lobby offered comfortable sitting areas where waiting guests could rest and lounge while they wait for their rooms to be ready.

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The room that we got was pretty basic – cable television, aircon, comfortable bed, a huge window, and a sizable bathroom. It was just right for us, though significantly smaller than our room in Phuket. Still, we didn’t mind because we expected to be out most of the time anyway. We didn’t have anything scheduled for our first day in Bangkok so we decided to check out the rooftop swimming pool.

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Their pool was the only thing that stood out from our whole hotel experience. Bangkok is quite hot and humid so having a swimming pool is a really big plus. Not to mention the fact that we had the pool all to ourselves. Guess all the other guests were all out exploring the city.

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Since the pool is at the rooftop, it gave us quite a good view of the surrounding buildings. Although we didn’t know exactly what we were looking at, it was still nice to be able to see our surroundings from a bird’s-eye view.

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I did not take any photo of our room because as I said, it was as basic as can be. But another nice thing with our hotel is their outdoor garden where guests could sit down to eat their meals or just relax. Below is the view from the café in front of the hotel. So relaxing, yes?

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If you want to see my previous entries about our Phuket trip, click the links below:

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The street across Patong Beach is lined with establishments – bars, stores, hotels and restaurants. There are different types of bars around, from the usual backpacker’s watering hole to the eccentric A Go-Go Bars. As expected, a good number of lady-boys are walking around offering massages or whatever. Hehe.

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On our second night in Phuket, we decided to walk the strip along Patong Beach. I was actually hoping to get a light buzz from one of the bars but my friends weren’t really up for it.

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During our long walk, we came across a pink mobile bar. It was our first time to see one so you can just imagine our excitement, haha. It’s painted a very bold pink, decked with blazing lights and blaring out some Thai hip-hop music. It just demands attention. Weirdly enough, no one was around. Not even a single costumer.

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Since it was decided that we will no longer drink, we resorted to taking part of Patong’s street food. From grilled meat and seafood, fresh fruits and utterly delicious (and cheap!) crepes – basically anything a night owl would crave for.

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I feel like the huge amount of restaurants overwhelmed our hungry tummies because we actually ended up having our dinner at Subway. LOL. It’s quite comical, actually.

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After filling our tummies with sandwich and street food, we walked back to our hotel to retire for the night. I hope to get back to Phuket someday and take part of the infamous Patong nightlife. For real, this time.

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