[Sapa, Vietnam] Day 1: Bus Ride to France

Best part of this day was the bus ride! 😂 Actually, half of the day was spent on the bus.

I thought we’re gonna be trippin’ like a backpacker but it was luxury. I was imagining that it was going to be crazy bus ride like in Sagada. But it was far from it. Vietnam’s road infrastructure looks like Chinese money is poured into it; roads are very wide unlike in Sagada where it feels like just 1 missed turn, and we might already go down the ravine. So I think if you want the thrill part of backpacking, Sagada is the way to go! Sorry, I can’t help to be extra on my country! 🙂The views along the way is pretty too; they remind me of Philippines! 😂😂😂 Five hours on the road, the best way is to love the view, and…

…crochet! I just have to insert this just because!!!

Bus stop food though… 🙂 I love surprises in bus stop.

My chopstick skills on focus!

I took a photo of the menu board of the bus stop because it has subtitles, which can be handy!

Food Fever 😂 Yes, I feel you, guys! The struggle is real…

At exactly 12noon, Sapa / Sa pa finally!!!

View from our room:

Sapa is picturesque. Reading that this was a French vacation place like Baguio was for Americans, it probably influences me to look at it that it does kinda looks like of those French scene.

It makes me feel like walking in the cobble-stoned alley of France.

Al fresco lounging… Lounging on street is a major big thing in Hanoi. While Sapa’s restaurants are also built to have al fresco lounging area.Louvre…This lake view is such a beauty though! Nasa Europa na ba ako? 😂

But then you get to witness the Behind the scene of pho, and brings you back to Asia.

Owkei, I gotta admit that I’m not that head-over-heels in love with Sapa as my first impression. 

There’s too many tourists including us. It’s like being in the Station 1-3 of Boracay. I know there’s a lot back in Philippines too but there’s just weird feel that like either they’re from the very “backpacker” group or they’re from the van-touring senior group, and all other in between. It’s like all types of tourists are here in Sapa. 

I think in Philippines, a certain place / city will be flocked by a certain type of travelers like Bohol is more of itinerary van-touring group; Sagada is really flocked with more of backpackers (Of course, there are other types but a certain type will be the majority.). 

Coming from eating Hanoi food, Sapa’s food is more expensive but the taste just does not match the prices. It’s not surprising that prices may be higher here but I hope it gets justified with the quality but 1st day experience did not give that impression. 🙁 Plus having a lot of Western foreigners, they kinda need to make their food into something Westernized. It’s like of a fancy restaurant manned by an experienced carenderia cook. I am so sad to write that because really, I’m nice; I hate whiny. 🙂

And the language struggle, it is kinda a notch higher up here in Sapa than in Hanoi.   I so wanted to connect with locals to get tips from them because google results are kinda too SEO-ed by travel agencies. If you look up about Sapa trekking, mostly, it will highly suggest for tour guide, which of course is important. But it’s just…

Anyhow, hoping to be surprised by Sapa in coming days… 🙂

[Hanoi, Vietnam] Day 4: MONOTONY

Fourth day, and finally, I’m able to get a bit of the “rhythm” of how to go around our little corner in Hanoi. I think I’m really getting old, I just have no patience of doing the Top Things / Places / Food when traveling. I’m more looking for the “monotony” of life in this / that city. 

(We live in stock exchange area, but the compound we’re in feels like we’re in Urgello; and no, i has no hate with Urgello.)But first #selfie. Morning jog aka the hunt for breakfast!

Breakfast gets more colorful now! 🙂

Bahn mi is courtesy from the lady on a nearby corner just outside the compound where we are airbnb-ing. She’s been my go-to for breakfast or lunch. I wanted to try the other Bahn mi, but I’m kinda attached to her already especially when I would just smile at her, and then she gets what I want: 1 spicy & 1 regular bahn mi. (Bahn mi starts at 15000VND. The bahn mi price has been like my gauge when judging other prices of food if it’s fair or not. And, bahn mi generally just)

The lady at the entrance of our compound has now also memorized what fruits I’d buy. And, though I want to change the fruits I would like to buy on other days but too lazy to find a way that we would understand each other. Thus, I always end up w/ dragonfruit & pineapple; and I’m not complaining! 🙂And some random finds while doing a morning stroll.

After breakfast, adventure begins… 

…in the couch with needles / hooks and yarn! Gaaahhh!!! 😑 Mark needs to work though because “digital nomad.” And, yes, fast internet is not a myth here in Vietnam! 🙂

Just when I get into the rhythm of Hanoi, we need to move to Sapa. 🙁

(Out next door neighbor in the complex is a dress shop. They’re a contrast to the people busy lounging in street cafes.)

Our neighborhood.

Other random photos:

It’s usual to see couples in wedding costume having photo shoot. I dunno if it’s just cosplay or if they’re really having a pre/post-nuptial shoot.

Afternoon stroll…

[Hanoi, Vietnam] Day 3

Yesterday was our 3rd day in Hanoi, and I was still struggling on how to go about their food here. 

I guess I read too much about travel bloggers’ streetfood adventure but EXPECTATION-VS-REALITY is so strong for me.

If understanding restaurant menu is already a struggle for me, how much more when we’re in the streets. 

(I understand bun cha, and I’d been eating too many bun cha already. What are those other stuff?!?)Subtitles please!!!

Aside from the language, their way of making / consuming food is just all too new for me. It’s like they’re feeding a goat here, which I love! 

What am I gonna do with this forest?!?

Anyhow, I started to get a bit of a grasp on how food works here but still the struggle is real. From what I understand is that rice noodles is like their rice then it just then becomes a combination of what you add to it; then just dunk everything into the soup together with the noodles and whatever condiments you want.

Those siakoy also belong to the soup, judging on how others do it. 

So my rule of thumb in food here: it’s either dunk all the stuff on the soup or rice noodles, or wrap them with a bahn or rice wrapper (like that lumpia). 

And, Don’t get me started with CHOP STICKS! It always makes me question my being Asian. Seriously?!? It made me feel that I have no right to call myself Asian.

Funny, how being in another city in Asia always makes me feel less of an Asian especially when it comes to food. It’s just weird that I can easily understand pasta over noodles, ketchup over curry(?), and that it’s hard to get used to the Asian “spiciness”. 🙂 And that my English is good, but I have to dumb it down because it’s useless (char); if only I could trade it for some chopstick skills.

But hey, I’m getting better at chopsticks! I don’t think I “finger” it correctly but it works for me. @.@
Flowers for the #bebeboy for being extra this day! @.@

[Hanoi, Vietnam] Day 2: #RelationshipstrugGOALS

I like aimless walk in Colon Street; Mark likes Colon Street but Haji Lane (SG) or Mong Kok kind of Colon Street. I love public transpo jeepney kind of rides: Mark likes public transpo like bus/trains or more preferrably Uber. I like streetfoods; he likes streetfood but Hawker kind of setup. I ask directions from random peole; he can go through messy roads just by looking at GPS.

Mark and I can be this extreme opposite (extreme for drama effect.). So when we landed in Hanoi, it was like “Oh, this is so I!!!” I was giddy! But Mark thinks he feels like he is always walking in Inayawan, Cebu every where. 

Probably what makes Philippines kinda “cool” is you can have the messy part and manicured part in 1 place; like you can have downtown / Colon, but then you can also escape to uptown / IT Park-ish. Or maybe, you can have Divisoria / Chinatown kinda feels, but then you can also find the 1st-world comfort feels by going Makati or BGC.

So I guess back in Philippines (or other cities we’d been to), Mark and I can just balance it out by going downtown then uptown.  But in Hanoi, it’s like pre-BPO Cebu; most area always has this downtown mode (or maybe we just did not look enough.).  It kind of throws Mark off; I mean he’s like an autistic kid who got too much sensory stimulation he can no longer control.

What a partypooper!

So how to work around it? 

No more of those search of the ultimate streetfood experience… We’re just gonna be like us in Cebu who eats Thai streetfood at a restaurant. 😂

Most blogs about Hanoi are from 1st-world people, and so they can really claim that food here is cheap. For me, it is cheap but it’s really not overly cheap when you have PhP money. A bahn mi on street usually starts at 15000VND; Pho at 20K+ VND. When you get inside a decent looking eatery, Pho can then start 50K VND; when you get inside a “fancier” resto, it can then be in the 80K+ VND (around Php180). So basically, you won’t really get broke when you just fine-dine (starve in between) your whole stay here.Cognitive dissonance. I think streetfood is popular here because there’s really not much difference in taste between a streetfood & fancy resto except that fancy resto’s have aircons, comfy chairs, and their menu has subtitles, and a staff who can speak English. So somehow there’s that struggle in myself that we should just “be trying hard local” but then we cannot because Mark’s cray-cray at the experience of eating at yet another carenderia in Inayawan (Cebu).

Bun Cha at May Taste

Uptown-ing! I searched for “business area” of Hanoi, and google pointed me to Tay Ho area, which has a lake on the center and mention of fancy restos around it. I’m imagining like we’re in IT Park with a lake in the center, cool!

So the lake at Tay Ho is beautiful. It was romantic gazing at the tall buildings on the other side of Hanoi.

I honestly do not know where’s the “business” part of it. But it seems like it’s a popular place for foreighners, where there are a lot of them lounging in few corners.

But Mark only saw the dog sh!t and trash (it’s like duh as if we’re not from Nangka, Consolacion, Cebu), and that it was so humid! ARGH!!! I screamed and snapped at him, but first #bloggerpose!!!

And another #bloggerpose, the only “sunset aura” I could get because we both hated each other already.

(Sunset on my face…?!?)

Gaaahhh!!! I miss a beautiful sunset #bloggerpose just because it was not uptown enough for him! 😡😡😡

[Hanoi, Vietnam] Day 1: Top Things You’d Do in Another City But Not in Your Own City

You know you landed in Vietnam when the airport smells like coriander — all the pho I could think of! Kidding, that was an exaggeration. We landed around 1am, which I think is 12am here (PH is advanced 1hour.) so we basically started here as the new day started. 🙂

First impression was that Hanoi is definitely I, and it’s NOT for Mark. Being in Hanoi makes me think that this is how probably a 1st-world foreigner feels like when he landed in a 3rd world country, like Philippines. There are locals peddling rides when you arrived in the airport. Though, you can read Vietnamese words but majority has no “subtitles.” I become this foreigner whose English sounds “superior” but may still be useless. And, it’s my first time that our Philippines money has bigger value so it’s like you feel “rich.”

We’re getting “gors” / old for this #travelblogger thingy that we get too lazy about creating itinerary. So we just kind of wing it on our first day, and probably for the rest of our stay.

So things we do in Hanoi which we or more Mark will NOT DO back in Cebu, Philippines.

1. Ho Hoan Kiem Lake aka Plaza Independencia or malls or Philippines.

It’s in every top things to do blogpost about Vietnam. And, Hanoi has no big malls so it seems like locals go to their parks to chill so the place was jampacked. I tried asking a Vietnamese (but not Hanoi-an) what’s the event but he cannot give an answer so it’s probably just a Hanoi thing like Filipinos cannot explain why malls are packed.

But definitely, it was fun to people-watch. Hanoi People love to just lounge on the streetsides.

Outdoor boardgames, anyone?!?
2. Cafe Dinh or line for the most popular lechon / BBQ spot

Of course, we still do but probably when we only have guests from other cities or on rare special occassions. 

Coffee or more of coffee concoction is quite popular in Hanoi. I picked the top most rated in the Ho Hoan Kiem Lake area according to foursquare (my lazy secret to itinerary making 😂), Cafe Dinh. 

It was up in a “ghettoish” building (sorry for the description but I can’t find a better term, and just so you would know it’s very legit local place), it was small, and filled with people that I felt like backing out at first.

But totally no regrets. Definitely the epitome definition of “hole-in-the-wall.”

One striking thing we noticed in Hanoi is that majority of locals are iPhone users. Mark felt out-of-place with his selfie expert phone, Oppo.

But I definitely do this in Cebu… I’d like to think though.

3. Carnival aka Sinulog

There was a carnival show in the lake area, which probably attracted more people to the area. It was like we were in Sinulog. Definitely, I’m not doing this in Cebu. The last time I remember I took part in Sinulog was like 4th year high school, 1998?!? 

The weird thing about their carnival show is that the performers are Caucasian, probably Russians (it’s the closest to the Vietnam.)?!? 

4. Roaming the Old Quarter area of Hanoi aka Colon Street

Though, I love just aimlessly walking around Colon Street but definitely not Mark. After the lake area, we just went around, and I think we were going around what they call the “Old Quarter” area. You’ll pass by hardware stores, clothing stores, souvenir shops, restaurants, street food, and etc. In between, you’ll find many backpacker’s alley where “affordable” hostels are lining. 

And I felt like 70% of the people walking around were foreigners. It’s like walking along the Boracay beach from Station 1 to 3.  I honestly want to get far away from it. @.@ chos!

The best part though was I found a yarn shop!

5. Cathedral aka Cathedral

Our feet brought us to a famous tourist spot, St. Joseph Cathedral. I’m not sure if it was being used because it was close and it was Sunday.

I’m sorry but we have too many Cathedrals back in Cebu. Seriously, what we’re doing there?!? Well, we’re tourist. 🙂

6. Posing with a street lamp / sign.

As much as I love #bloggerpose but definitely not with a street sign, right?

There goes my list of things we will not do back in Cebu, Philippines. 😂

More Day 1 ramblings:

They say that motorists here are notorious. Yes, if you’re from an orderly first world country. But if you’re from Consolacion, Cebu where habal-habal is the king, what notorious motorists?!?

This auntie though… Other motorists shouted at her, and they had a mini catfight! 😂

Wedding them Photo shoots. At first I thought someone had a pre-nuptial photo shoot but then I saw more of them in different corner. So it’s wedding cosplay photo shoot is a thing here.

Mark’s so “picky” with food so the most “streetfood” eating we had done was at the back of the place we stayed.

This was somewhere near our place we’re staying. Finding for the best pho, etc food is too tiring especially with too many people crowding a popular place and the no subtitles menu so we just drag ourselves to a place with no people. 😂

So there…

Day 1: San Miguel Street, Pasig

Nakarating na po ako ng Pasig! 🙂

I’d been only able to stay overnight in Makati or Taguig when in Manila. So it’s something new to be in Ortigas / Pasig. It’s not as manicured as Makati or BGC but the place we stayed has this quaint charm, (or maybe I’m just not in the right place). We’re near Pearl Street which is some sort of food strip, I think.

Below are Some photos for documentation processes. As Mark would say, “there you go again with your Day 1, Day 2, Day xx blog posts. Why can’t you make deeper thoughts?!?” 😂😂😂

Always 1st must do when in new place: coffee!

At Where’s Marcial(sp?). It’s blahhh. Sorry 🙁
At Gantsilyo Guru yarn studio. It was near where we stay.

Estancia Mall(?!) We had lunch at Wholesome Table. It’s hard to appreciate this kind of resto when you have ABACA resto chain in Cebu (it’s not like the holy grail but a good benchmark).  I mean when you wanted to get that new experience in new place, but then you feel like there’s just something like this (maybe better) back in Cebu minus all the frivolous labels like organic, pro-farmer, farm to table churva.  Sorry, I’m whining.

I went alone to SM Megamall. That mall is huge. Hopefully, there’s no important reason for me to go back there.

So proud to see my friend’s face, Karla, on display at SM Megamall.

Near the place we’re staying is a building complex, Pearl Drive, with some restos, which kinda give a hole-in-the-wall vibes (though most of the restos are actually from a chain, but they’re like all new to me). I think this was what made the place we’re staying interesting(?).

At Mister Kabab.


The only photo I managed to get from Migi’s birthday today is with his signature awkward facial expression.

Birthday cake from @keihlasmom

And now I am officially a mother to a teenager.

I don’t know if he still did the candle blowing. But Meg had demanded to get over the candle-blowing as she wanted to eat the cake already. 

It’s like they’re officially over the phase in which candle-blowing is like the main event of a birthday.

Anyhow, thankful for these babies and family and friends. 🙂 

So what’s your purpose?

My dressmaking class in TESDA is nearing end. I think we’re only up to August. The classmates I get to be closer are these 3 young girls who are also from Consolacion. I mostly go home with them. 

One time they were discussing about getting a endorsement from TESDA, after graduating for, for work in MEPZA. So I asked them how does it work blah blah? 

After back and forth discussion, one of the girls asked me, “ikaw, ate, unsa diay imo purpose sa pagskuyla?”

I was dumbfounded, and was not able to reply. I enrolled back in February, but the class only started in June as it was slow to get filled up. In between, I forgot what was really the reason why I enrolled in the first place. 

They then gave me a confused look. And, I gave them back a more confused look.

“Rich kid diay ka.” One of them blurted out to answer the other girl’s answer.

“O. Rich kid bitaw ko.” I second the motion for lack of a better answer, and to end the discussion.

There are times that I underestimated them as they are 10 years younger than me. I felt like I know life better. But here they are making me feel intimidated for not knowing “purpose.”

On the other hand, I felt vindicated when I told one of the girls that the real reason why she enrolled to dressmaking is because she was just looking for a way to move on from her missing-in-action boyfriend. And, she said how did I know? Then the discussion was then switched to her struggle with her lovelife. Anyhow, I applauded her for making something productive instead of making “mokmok.”

Yaknow, I may not know about “life’s purpose” but I always have this hidden talent of seeing something from someone’s face especialy when it comes to boys and love and chismis. Kidding! I actually just bluff, and somehow it was spot on. 😂

Our classmate’s car broke down in Mandaue. This was one of the enforcer who helped usz I was trying to play cupid between these two. (I gave her a cropped version of this photo but no high hopes because enforcer’s in a relationship.)

SG 2017 Day 4

Yes, I’m not yet done. 😂

I wanted to see the crochet installation in Marina Bay, but we got lazy. I kinda loathe myself why I did not put a bit of effort to see it. 

Anyhow, this is probably the first time that I did not got to do a lot of eating at hawker station. When in SG, it’s always hawker over restaurant. Well, because cheap. 

But first, let me #bloggerpose.

I love the place we’re staying that we always airbnb here. But I hate that it has no nearby train station, and most of all no nearby hawker station. And the nearest one to it is a blahhh. Though, it has stalls with “awards” but it does not have the usual hawker favorites of mine: biryani, laksa, parata, chicken rice (or maybe i did not see it). The popular ones here in this hawker station is Nasi Lemak, which is an SG favorite dish that I could never get why they like it. You have all sorts of “salty” in one plate from peanut to the dried fish. 

Another bestseller here is this soup. Sorry, I forgot the name but it’s an Indian dish. 

But lychee drink & Kopi C were always there to save the day! 
The hawker station is Adam Road Hawker Station (and I’m sure I did not get the name right). Most of the nearby residents here are probably of Indian descent that most of the stalls here are of Indian food but disappointed that no one serves Biryani. (Gahhh, I sound so whine-y!)

Now let me take another #travelbloggerpose.

Our flight was still as midnight. We went to the airport, and drop our stuff at a luggage station for a fee. We got out, and went to Anana’s in Kembangan (long story but it’s in my must-do when in SG). It’s like a fastfood for chicken rice with many outlets. But sad and surprised that Anana’s no longer exist in the Kembangan station. But it’s renamed or rebranded. I was so sad to even take note of its new name. 

There’s nothing extraordinary with Anana’s except that it’s so ordinary that it feels like I’d eat there I’m like doing a legit be-local. This is what I always look forward to when landing in SG.

We went to Changi Expo after. It’s my first time in this place. And, the gem I found was this “dollar” store of chocolates which are staple of balikbayan boxes. I so wanna buy lots of them but Mark kept yapping I’d be bringing diabetes. Duh! @.@

Then we ate at Jollibee because I just want to taste our own Nasi Lemak version minus the dried fish and peanuts.

Yes. Beautiful women go for Jollibee.

I had my ezlink card refunded when we got back at the airport, and felt like a boss when I got SG$0.03 more than what’s in my tap card. But then lose them all on Bee Cheng Hiang.

Do you notice how their bills don’t get crinkled? 

SG 2017 Day 3

What having NO MONEY did to me in Singapore? Surprisingly, it’s not bad!

As I mentioned in my Day 2 post, a yarn warehouse gobbled up all my chicken rice money. With that, I deleted my long itinerary list. I decided to just stay at our airbnb-ed place, and crochet the dress which needed to be done by Friday. Anyhow, there’s no bad day with crochet.

In the middle of crochet, I thought of visiting a public library to finish my crocheting there, and also check if they have crochet or knitting books. But a friend messaged to meet for the best chicken curry. Who can say NO?!? 😍

This was at Queensway Shopping Centre.

I then tagged along with her to her office. She works for Seinnheiser. She definitely has an interesting workplace!

After that, there was a park and a bridge nearby which connects to the Henderson wave. I was thinking of trekking the bridge all through the Henderson wave which would end up in Mt Faber but thought of doing it another day with Mark.

I then proceeded to going to a public library as I originally planned in the morning!

I was so happy that I did go to their library! They have quite a lot of books about crochet and knitting, and so many other kind of books. Books that look good, updated, and not delapitated.  It was kind of surreal that this kind of thing exists for free (of course, not really free because SG taxes paying for it but not to overthink about it; it’s free!) For the 1st time, I got envious of this 1st world living.