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WanderWoman: Getting around Hanoi

Hello everyone! This is my third WanderWoman post about my Hanoi trip. I am very much excited to show you fragments of Hanoi through local transport. Vietnamese people have several ways to roam around and they’re not just about cabs and buses. Let me show you different ways to explore the country (some in three wheels or less).

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CYCLOS

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Above is a photo of cyclos famous among tourists in Hanoi. It is a three-wheeled vehicle that can carry up to two people. This kind of transportation is endemic in Asian countries like Vietnam. In China, they call this rickshaw. Unlike the typical bicycle with sidecar, the cyclos have a seat at the front for passengers and the driver at the back.

XE OM

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Xe om (say ohm) is known as motorbike taxi in Vietnam. But what I like about it more is the real translation of the word which means “motorbike hug”. Since Vietnam is filled with two-wheeled vehicles, it is expected that local transport like xe om are used by tourists for sightseeing. Even though xe om is faster and more affordable majority still prefer cabs not just for the safe option for transportation but because English speaking driver can be a great guide as well.

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CITY BUSES

Buses are currently the only means of public transportation around Hanoi. Each buses have different numbers that corresponds to different towns and bus stops. Although few travelers deal with buses to the evident language barrier, I find this convenient, safe and cheaper than xe om.

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WanderWoman: Hanoi, Vietnam

 

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Okay, I have to admit. I spent most of my days in Hanoi wandering around cities to cities. Exploring sites, food-hopping from hawkers to hawkers, connecting with people and enjoying the place as it is. During my early days in Hanoi, I stayed in a place called Phúc Yên. It is a small a town in Vĩnh Phúc province that is very close to the Nội Bài airport.

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My departure from NAIA 3 was at 8:00 pm, but due to flight delay, I arrived at Nội Bài airport at half past 2:00 am. I know that Vietnam has a free-Visa pass for Filipinos for 21 days, but since I planned to stay longer, I was required to get a Visa before entering the country.

After getting a well-deserved rest the later that same day, I immediately packed my bags to meet – up with my friend Joy in Hoàn Kiếm. We planned to enjoy the rest of our stay there because it’s the heart of Hanoi and most of the places we want to visit are around the area. The trip from Phúc Yên to Hoàn Kiếm took me about 2 hours via Expressway. As soon as I reached Hanoi Rose Hotel, I settled in and rest for a bit before taking a tour outside.

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We started the day strolling at Hoàn Kiếm Lake. Since the place is in the historical part of Hanoi, why not begin in one of the most scenic spots in the city. The entrance fee cost me about 20K VN Dong or 46php. It was once said that the lake was inhabited by a big turtle bringing safety to the city and prosperity to the people. Although we planned to see different places that day, Joy and I decided to go back to the hotel because I was too tired and not fully recovered from the trips I made for the past 2 days. Here’s a glimpse of our room at Hanoi Rose Hotel.

The room has two beds, one plasma screen TV with cable, fully air-conditioned, has a clean bathroom and WiFi accessible. Also there are drawers and cabinets perfect for our clothes. The room was clean and it smelled really nice. The following morning, there was a complimentary breakfast given to us. Even though I wish there was rice, the free meal was such a delight.

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My first few days in Vietnam went well and I am excited to share more of my experiences on my next WanderWoman blog. Let us talk about streetfood, shopping and public transportation.

 

Until next time,

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WanderWoman: Taal Volcano Day Hike Experience

Known as the lake within a lake, Taal Volcano is one of the most favorite tourist spots in Luzon. Approximately 60km. south of Metro Manila, this wonderfully structured volcano is famous as the smallest active volcano in the world. I’ve seen the volcano’s unique charm from afar. But to be on the island is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m excited.

HOW TO GET THERE:

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▪️ via BUS

(from Manila to Tagaytay)

  • Take a bus from Buendia/ Pasay to Nasugbu.
  • From Nasugbu, ride a jeep going to People’s Park
  • Take another jeepney ride from People’s Park to Ligaya Drive.
  • Ride a tricycle from Ligaya Dr. going to Talisay Batangas. (Talisay is where you can rent boats going to the island).

 (from Manila to Batangas)

  • Take a bus from Buendia/ Pasay to Lemery, Lipa or Batangas City. (Tell the driver or conductor to drop you at Tanauan).
  • From Tanauan, take a jeep to Talisay. (30minutes for 20php)

▪️ via CAR

(from Manila to SLEX)

Route #1

  • From SLEX. take the Carmona Exit.
  • Drive down to Governor’s Drive passing through Silang up to Tagaytay Rotonda

Route #2

  • From SLEX, take the Sta. Rosa Exit going straight to Tagaytay

(from Manila to Coastal Road)

  • Drive south towards Aguinaldo Highway
  • Pass through Bacoor, Imus, Dasmarinas then Silang.
Our crazy boat ride to the island.

 

TIPS AND REMINDERS:

  • Bring water (drinks are expensive when you buy it from the stalls)
  • Best time to visit is during early in the morning or before noon.
  • Wear loose comfy clothes or appropriate hiking clothes.
  • Bring extra shirts and towels
  • Put sunblock.
  • Wear a hat, arm sleeves and sunglasses for heat protection.
  • Wear a face mask.
Check out the view from the top.

 

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EXPENSES:

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  • Boat Ride ➖₱2,000.00 (40 USD)
  • Entrance Fee (Resort) ➖₱100.00 each (2 USD)
  • Tourist Guide (for the Entire Group) ➖₱ 500.00 (10 USD)
  • Horse with Jockey ➖₱ 500.00 each (10 USD)
  • Environmental Fee ➖₱ 50.00 (1USD Adults) ₱30.00 (0.60USD Kids)

IMPORTANT NOTES:

  • Going up to the crater – 30 minutes via Horse compared to 1 1/2 hrs of trekking
  • Don’t miss the red lava area.
Here’s a snippet of our trail going back to the shore.

 

FOR OTHER INQUIRIES:

Contact Ton Jovi Resort at 0929 659 0324 or visit them on Facebook

 

xo,

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WanderWoman: Lily Pond

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Formerly known as Moon Garden, Lily Pond is a Bali-like escape hidden in the heart of Tagaytay City. Seated between Calamba road and Silang exit, this amazing place is not a hotel nor a bed and breakfast. It is a place where you can freely rent vacation cottages to spend the night or to flee from the busy city.

Everywhere you look is a complete delight. The villas are surrounded by lilies. The casa is wide and the place is filled with different kinds of greenery. Also, different sculptures serve as ornaments to enhance the beauty of this paradise.

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Every room is a uniquely made concrete stand-alone that is very warm and spacious. From the floor to the walls, it is a perfect break from the usual hotel room layout. The furniture is well curated. There is no air-con available since Tagaytay is a cold place to start with. But you can request for an electric fan if you want. The bathroom is oddly impressive as well. There’s no door, only curtains. It has his and hers sink and a hot and cold shower.

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The breakfast is included on the room package. However, you can still order additional food from their limited menu at a very reasonable price. Their menu consists of traditional Filipino food but with a classy twist. They have tocino, longganisa, scrambled eggs and bread to name a few. Their food also includes marmalade and fresh fruits depending on the season.

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Since Lily Pond is not your typical place to stay, please expect that there will be no staff to welcome you upon your arrival. They do not have a front desk as well. Your point of contact will be the man named Tony and he will be the assisting you to your room. The booking process will be done online and you must deposit the full-payment first for confirmation. Also expect that the employees will not be of contact to maintain the privacy of the vacationers. They will not greet you unless you greet them. That is part of their training.

I highly recommend this place for couples, solo travelers and for those who just want to escape the busy metropolis. Although, I am not certain that this place will be suited for kids and elders since there are a lot of stairs going around the whole area.

Location: SVD Road, Tagaytay, Cavite (just off Calamba Road opposite Country Suites and Starbucks)

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For reservations, you can call Bhong at 0939-913-9097. You can also check them through their Facebook.

Email: moongardentag@gmail.com
Approximate Room Rate: PHP 2,990 for 2 pax, inclusive of breakfast
Check-in: Starts at 1PM

 

WanderWoman: BenCab Museum

 

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It is no secret to all that the BenCab Museum is one of the most sought after museums in the country.

Founded by our National Artist Benedicto Reyes Cabrera, the four-storey building houses not only his art collections but his actual workshop as well. Perfectly married to nature, BenCab’s house (now a museum) also showcases different art pieces from other contemporary artists around the country.

The structure was designed in a very unique way. The entrance of the building is also the top floor of the museum. And the best way to go around his collections is to go down until you reached the garden and his café. There are no elevators available in this area so you really need to take the stairs.

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On the entry level of the museum, you will find the lobby, reception area, museum shop and the loo. They sell out different kinds of souvenirs perfect for pasalubong.

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Below the entry level is the centerpiece of the whole entire building. This floor features BenCab’s gallery, the Cordillera gallery, the Print gallery, his Bulol collections, Indigo gallery and the Erotica gallery.

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The main Indigo gallery is a place meant for various renowned artists featuring their greatest artworks. The BenCab gallery on the other side is giving out a wide variety of the owner’s personal collections.

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Outside the gallery is a wall dedicated for his numerous pieces of Bulol or Ifugao Rice God. Each bulol looks like a carved human figurine and is said to be worshiped.

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One of the most intriguing galleries in the museum is that Erotica gallery. Outside, ther is an advisory that reads

This gallery contains works with imagery that may be offensive to minors and to certain individuals.

 

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Level three was designed for the national Artist’s own collections of Philippine Contemporary Art. There’s Gallery 1 near the loo and Gallery 2 beside Maestro gallery.

 

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Lastly, the lowest level is where you can find Café Sabel and the entrance to his garden.

 

Café Sabel serves Bencab’s family recipes and most of the ingredients used for their dishes were homegrown. The Baguio breeze and the relaxing environment made it easier for the guests to go around the garden and embrace it’s beauty.

The garden has a beautiful and huge Koi pond, greenhouses with ornamental flowers. herb bed, strawberry plantation and a small rice field.

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My overall experience in BenCab was amazing. Even though it’s a bit tiring wandering around every crannies, appreciating the works of several Filipino artists’ has never been this rewarding. I highly recommend this museum to be a part of your Baguio itinerary.

More of BenCab.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Tuesdays to Sundays 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
(last entry at 5:30 pm). Closed on Mondays, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Admission to the Museum:

General admission – Php120
Students with valid school ID – Php100
Seniors/ PWD with valid IDs – Php80
Special rates for student & organized groups with minimum of 30 guests
EcoTrail tour – same as above

TRANSPORTATION ACCESS

Car: 15-minute drive from Baguio City center.
Public transport: Jeep to Asin from jeepney terminal near Baguio market.

Café hours:

Same as museum – Open daily except Mondays, Christmas Day & New Year’s Day from 9:00am to 6:00pm (last order at 5:30pm)

• Outside food and drinks are not permitted to be brought into the cafe.
• Smoking is permitted only in the al fresco area of the cafe.

WanderWoman: Mt. Cloud Bookshop

We want people to read more local books. – Mt. Cloud Bookshop

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Mt. Cloud Bookshop is one of Luzon’s  coziest and hippest bookstores within a city center. The exterior graffiti will entice tourists and bookworms to take a detour in this place. Located in Baguio, it is the ultimate candy store for book lovers. Every nooks and cranny imaginable is filled with a wide selections of good books. Mt. Cloud has a fantastic selection of Western and Filipino titles, and a trend towards historical and ethnographic non-fiction and novels too. Also, Mt. Cloud caters to a lot of children book publications. From colored picture books to fairy tales, you will enjoy running through them all.

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On the shop’s loft you’ll find books with hard-to-find titles if you’re trying to look for it in the midland. They also sell some artsy stuff, shirts, stationery papers and hilarious notepads. The quaint interiors gave the curious visitors a relaxing feel. The origami swans visible around the shop were creatively made into window blinds and backdrop.

 

 

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Mt. Cloud Bookshop is located Casa Vallejo Bldg, DPS Compound Access Road, Baguio, 2600 Benguet, Philippines. They are open everyday from 10:30am to 8:00pm.

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WanderWoman: Must- See Street Art across Metro Manila

Street Art is a visual art created in an unconventional environment. Too far from the traditional setting, the birth of the graffiti pave it’s way to a new and more diverse representation of passion.

Since Manila is a free and liberated city, I have witnessed how the concrete jungle made a room for some eye-popping masterpieces. Here are some of the artworks I’ve seen throughout my journey in Manila.

Sculpture in Fully Booked BGC

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Composed by over 3,000 worth of books about romance novels, this image of a woman holding a pink male cat was an artwork exhibited in Times Square, Hong Kong. When Fully Booked acquired the masterpiece, they invited Mike Stilkey to Manila to install this sculpture standing for about 24 feet.

Makati Central Business District Walkway and Underpass.

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Adapting to the fast-paced lives of the people from the corporate world, several independent artist from the country were commissioned to beautify the walkway and underpasses of Makati Central Business District. Among the invited artists were Geloy Concepcion, Kookoo Ramos, Nemo Aguila and Rai Cruz. Their works stretches along the elevated walkway from Dela Rosa to Greenbelt and also the ceilings of the Makati Avenue underpass in Ayala.

ART BGC

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Bonifacio Art Foundation Inc. and other international artists gathered together to change the face of the city. Every year, BAFI sphere-heads a week-long mural festival around Bonifacio Global City. The artists work on gigantic walls riding lifts and spray paint for hours at a time. To know more about the festival and their art check out, ART BGC.