[Da Nang, Vietnam] Day 2: It’s Raining Men

Nov. 13, 2017

No, I wasn’t rained with men. But I was roaming aimlessly, and kept bumping into an array of male mannequins on the streets of Da Nang.

I blogged about this day at craftynanay.com, which you can check when you’re bored af (I just want to write “af.” And, no one gets bored now.).)

Mark was doing “pangkabuhayan showcase” so I went roaming aimlessly alone on this day with a chance of finding yarns. πŸ™‚

Hotel food. As much as I wanted to make our own, but buffet breakfast would never fail to make me feel giddy!

Han Market. It’s the souvenir haven of Da Nang. I went out once I got in. 😂

<<<<< imless roaming... Da Nang has this one side of "modern-ness" and then a "throwback" on the other side. <<<< hing I love most about Da Nang (and Hanoi) is that they don't have that (much) malls. They have these public markets, which have a bazaar. Con Market. I felt this is bigger than Han Market, and probably offer lower prices. More about it at craftynanay.com.<<<< hing I love being left alone, without Mark, is that I could randomly eat any where because Mark is sooo picky. @.@ Legit streetfood.I just read that cafe culture in Vietnam is “tambay all you can.” It’s just that time I understand why people take so long to stay in a coffee place; and why we were once advised to drink the coffee little by little. So I tried it, and bum my butt in the place for 2 hours, andno guilty feelings because is doing it.

I used to think that people are drinking coffee and beer. But the beer looking liquid is actually tea, they seeves for free as water.Every tim I bumped into a Banh Mi seller, i just cannot say no!

Dinner was disaster because language barrier. We wanted to be so local, and ended up with a soup that has “sago” in it instead of noodles. It was good anyhow. It’s just my mind was set on a noodle soup.

But got lucky with our desert! πŸ™‚

[Da Nang, Vietnam] Day 1: No Power Shortage

Nov. 12, 2017

It was a longgggg way to Da Nang. From a warm weather in Cebu to cold weather layover in Hong Kong for 8hours+ then finally back to a warm weather Da Nang.

It was such a long trip just to arrive in a place that is somewhat similar to Cebu.

Automatically, my stomach screamed hunger when we arrived at the hotel, though I just had airplane food.

Banh mi. So first thing first, eat! Vietnam food can be confusing for a non-Vietnam speaking like me; the easiest food to understand is Banh mi. Thus I could probably say that eating banh mi is becoming a tradition as the first food I would grub/grab when landing in Vietnam. Think of it as subway sandwich, though I would say way much better.

One striking difference I notice between Da Nang & Hanoi food is coriander. Da Nang restaurants use less coriander; it might be because it’s a coastal place than a farm land area.

Tradition: twinning shirt & banh mi

I think we stayed in a tourist area of Da Nang. On one side of the hotel is Han Market; it’s like “tabo sa banay,” souvenir place, etc. On the other side are restaurants, which are flocked by tourists.

My first impression of Da Nang was it reminded me of Ilo-ilo where there’s a river that cuts / passes the city thus there are bridges to get to the other side.

And when night time came, it’s like they have no power shortage. There’s just too much light displays.

Our first dinner was at Viet Bamboo Restaurant, which manager is a Filipina.

Last “intake” before ending the Day 1, mango coconut drink. Cebu and Da Nang has a lot of similarities in food, at least when it comes to ingredients. Honestly, I did not finish this drink. I think we do mango-coconut concoction better.

LAYOVER: expectation vs reality

I always have this #feedgoals envy of travel bloggers posting their layover photos. But when I finally experienced it for the first time, around 10hours of waiting from midnight: definitely NOT looking forward to it again! Probably, unless I have access to some super premium lounge but nahhhh. Anyhow, beggars can’t be picku. πŸ™‚

It’s my 2nd time to be in HK airport. This time, I noticed more how huge it is because we had to go to gate 500+ where we need to ride a bus to get there.

It’s like how will ever Philippines get to have an airport to even at least 300 gates?! Or at least a real legit decent one? Or at least a Philippine airport not having to pay terminal fee?!? πŸ™‚

On the other hand, I love better the lounge area of Mactan airport because it has no crowd; while HK airport’s lounge was too crowded that “lounge” is the last thing you want to do.

Mactan airport lounge

How it feels to be dead?

“Asa na diay ka? Gimingaw nako nimo. Malingaw baya jud ko sa imong posts…” and the likes are comments I got from few people when I deactivated my real personal facebook account.

I thought this is probably how it feels when you’re no longer on earth. It’s nice to know that I might be missed.

Anyhow, I deactivated my facebook account because I never likes it. I had to have one (before) for marketing-related works before.

It was actually nice to have one. Best way to connect with everyone. And, most of all, I love the likes; i’m human; i crave attention.

But I had enough of it when my mother passed away last year, and relatives kept asking me to announce it on facebook so as to let my mothers’ relatives and friends know about it. I kept delaying it because I really did not want to announce it. I don’t want to announce a very sad moment of my life. I just want it to be mine; let me be selfish of it. It’s one of those moments that I just want to curl in a corner, and shut myself off from the world, and just be enveloped with the sadness until it numbs or I get used to it; or just be it.

But people around insisted to announce it, worse(t) on facebook. So there…

[Sapa, Vietnam] Day 5: Packing

At lunch in hotel resto: 

Staff: So what did you today?
Me: Packing.

Staff smiled, and walked away.

Mark commented why did I answer “packing.” It might be misinterpreted with a bad word.

The thing is I really wanted to share with the staff how I had wonderful walk towards the upper part of the hill early in the morning, the fresh air, the beautiful flowers and view. But it would be useless, and would just create an awkward situation because she would have a hard time understanding it, and I would have a hard time trying to make her understand me.  To save the 2 of us from that awkward situation, I tried to think of the simplest answer I could give: packing.

(Lunch! We’re terribly missing Pinoy #foodie.)It’s our last day in Sapa; that’s why we’re packing. 

Basically, that sums up our daily interaction with the hotel staff of Sapa Garden Resort. They’re all nice and extra. But we always just turned awkward when they and us are trying to converse with each other.

They’re trained to make guests comfortable and welcome by  routinely checking on us (or generally as their customer relationship protocol) with a list of template questions. After staying here for a few days, we memorized the list of questions they would throw at us. It’s usually from: “How are you?” “How’s the food?” “What are your plans for today?” “The weather will be great today?” “Do you need any thing?” “Do you have a good sleep?” 

We do not really mind it. The problem is that it could get awkward because of language barrier. Sometimes, they ask questions that were out context like every time they see you in a day, they would mandatorily ask “how are you?” Sometimes, we’d meet them 5 times so we’d be asked “how are you?” 5x in a day. I wanted to share my day to let them know that I enjoy their place but then, as I said, it would put the two of us in a difficult situation instead. So we would just end up saying, “we’re fine” 5x/day. 

So basically that sums up our daily interaction with the lovely people of Sapa: “How are you?” – “We’re fine.”

And, yes, cheesy, I would miss them! πŸ™‚

Zwing and Nui. They’re assigned a Western name, but I tried to use their Vietnamese name. 

[Sapa, Vietnam] Day 4: From the Customer Support CapitalΒ 

Today was the fun run. We joined the 10K of VMM (story will be at runroo.com). 

It was also on the route used by guided trekking tours. So it was common to meet foreigners trekking on the way. And, I noticed that I was probably the only runner who was busy greeting “good morning” the other passerbys. It might be the language barrier; or it might be because I’m from the customer support capital of the world that it’s natural for us to be a greeting trumpet. 

And on this day, I confirmed that I could never be KPop when foreigners would ask me if I’m Malaysian or Thailand.  😑 Anyhow, I would reply to them, “From Philippines. Mabuhay!” 😂

A few friends who had been to Vietnam would always warn me about Vietnamese being rude. Thankfully, I never really met one until this day’s dinner when a resto staff shouted at me twice when I was about to bite into my BBQ. And, I think I felt worse about it when no one around me can interpret / explain / subtitled why he shouted at me. 

On the other hand, I don’t think they’re rude, or they meant to be rude. It’s just how they are. You can feel it especially with drivers / motorists. Pedestrians are regarded as less priority by motorists (They elevated the manners of the annoying habal2x back in my beloved Consolacion, Cebu when compared to them.). But then, I think if you look at them thru the lens of a Vietnamese, they are not really being intentionally rude; it’s probably just who they really are.

But still generally, Vietnamese are nice people. I always believe that human’s default setting is nice. 😍 

[Sapa, Vietnam] Day 3

We did nothing today. 😂 But I need to have a Day 3 entry. πŸ™‚

There are super lots of shops selling outdoor apparels & gears in Sapa, counterfeit of popular brands. Part of me want to buy, but I just cannot.

I think this is Banh xeo, one of my favorite in Phat Pho. It’s just that it seemed they have a different pronunciation of it here. Or, it’s us who pronounced it wrong.

[Sapa, Vietnam] Day 2: Do it for #feedgoals!

After claiming our race kit for 10K Vietnam Mountain Marathon, we went straight to hoping to find a quick “nature” trek.

(I think our main reason of coming here was for the fun run. We’re originally hoping to be in 21K but it seems like they’re popular now, and sold out quickly. Thus, we’re in 10K but I’m just happy to be as we’re really lazy with long runs for awhile.)

So on to trekking… Everyone points us to do the Cat Cat Village when we would ask for suggestion of a quick trek.  Sapa and Cordillera (or even Bukidnon) has similarities. One is that they have different tribes, and I think each tribe has its own valley/village like in Cordillera. Sapa has 7(?). One of the tribes is in Cat Cat Village (i dunno the name of the tribe). I think Cat Cat village has the (un)luck of being the closest to the Sapa town center that they became the default main attraction. 

When I saw the road going to the Cat Cat village with tourist vans zooming in and out, and souvenir shops lining up along the way, I was totally disappointed! I just wanna go back to the place we’re staying, and might as well just enjoy the view from there. But of course, I just gonna suck it up! @.@ It’s just one of those moments that you’ll think if tourism is good or bad. Anyhow, I’m not gonna bore myself writing about that.

There’s then there’s default entrance fee to the Cat Cat Village. It was really more of a curated theme park with “villagers” in full costume who looked like they were actors who were made to roam around the “village” to look like we’re in an authentic tribe village. I mean c’mon, I did not travel this far for this; we have so many of this back in my beloved Philippines (not really though?!?).

We’re about to get done with the Cat Cat Village when I saw a little detour that says “Gold Stream.” 

I was thinking this probably refers to the “Secret Jungle” part of the village.

We’re hesitant to trek it because no one is going there. But so happy we took the chance.

I was just elated to get away from the “civilization.” Tarush! See the buildings on the other side… Glad to get a bit away from it despite a quick one.

But truth is I just wanna take better #feedgoals photos. 😂😂😂

This was the “dead end” of the village map.

Though, you can actually cross the river, and continue trekking. But we’re not that daredevil; there might be some rules against it, and we don’t want to cross it. And, I guess this is the disadvantage of trekking in another country so thus the importance of a local guide. πŸ™‚

So let me just #bloggerpose. Do it for #feedgoals!

Tabing Ilog…
Legit locals passed us, who also took a breather when they reached the spot we’re in.

Going back to our place, we want to avoid the main road, and thought of taking a shortcut but it led us to a foot path that went up straight the “mountain/hill.” It did took us away from the traffic of touring vans and souvenir shops, and the scenery was beautiful but I was not that prepared with the steepness of the ascent! 

It seemed like Sapa had enough of my whining, and tried to get the last laugh by giving a kick on my butt by showing a more real Sapa trail.

I was already unhappy doing this going-home trek because it got hot, it was always going up, we’re not sure if we’re taking the right way, and most of all I was hungry already (we had not lunch yet as I thought it’s just gonna be a short trek).

If things get hard, #selfie!

Just when all our water bottles were emptied out, we finally reached the main road!

So #foodie!!!

(Sapa food may have now this touch of being Western like this bahn mi may be more of a burger than the typical bahn mi.) 

Sapa, thank you for that kick on my butt! We are now good! πŸ™‚

[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! πŸ™‚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… πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™ 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. πŸ™‚

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… πŸ™‚

[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! πŸ™‚

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! πŸ™‚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! πŸ™‚

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

(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…