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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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PIG OUT: Vietnamese Street food

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Aside from the different sights to see in Hanoi, I am excited to share my first hand experience on Vietnamese street food. From food carts to food bikes to vendors rolling out in droves, the choices of yummy food seem to be endless. My friend and I tried everything we saw on the streets. We had breads, noodles and different kinds of desserts. In between our stay, we also looked out for different cafés to enjoy their classic cà phê.

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FIRST STOP. 

Bánh mì  has become one of my go-to food while strolling around Vietnam. It is a full tasty bread meal consists toasted baguette, your choice of meat or tofu, fresh cilantro, sweet pickled carrots, daikon radish, sliced cucumbers and mayonnaise spread. Customers can also request for jalapenos. Every serving of bánh mì looks like a classic order of Subway.

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SECOND STOP.

One day, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and my vertigo was killing me. Since I was feeling under the weather, my friend and I agreed to have noodles for brunch. In Vietnam. Phở is the most famous rice noodle soup you could ever find. Each bowl is made out of homemade rice noodles, beef stock, beef cuts, spring onions, onions and cilantro. The server will also give you limes, chili, mint and bean sprouts to add on the soup. I may not know a lot about Vietnamese noodles but this one was amazing. We savored every ounces of broth inside the bowl. The serving was very inexpensive and totally worth it.

THIRD STOP.

Vietnamese Desserts. I call the first two photos above as a foreign version of Pinoy Halo-Halo. Chè thập cẩm is a sweet dessert that contains coconut milk, beans and jello. Some may have once scoop of ice cream on top depending on the customer’s liking. Also, they put shaved ice on top to be refreshing. The preparation of this dessert can be pretty tedious but it’s delicious. On the other hand, the third photo is known as the caramen (Caramel). Similar to chè, this dessert has beans, jello and coconut milk. But instead of having shaved ice, you have some form of sticky rice below and a custard flan on top.

My overall food escapade in Vietnam was promising. It was definitely proven that Hanoi is a street food haven for tourists and it’s own people. The food are affordable and they have generous amount of servings. Each food we tried consists of intensive labor and great flavor. Everything is a must-try and you’ll definitely come back for more.

 

Until next time,

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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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Tattoo Pegs for 2017

I am excited to get my first tattoo next year. I have been eyeing on getting one since I turned 18. My tattoo fascination led me to putting this idea into my bucket list. However, unlike the usual colorful loud tattoos, my plan is to have something minimal but personal.

Here are some of the ideas that I have.  (Photo courtesy of Pinterest)
  • COORDINATES

I would love to have the coordinates of our old house tattooed on my forearm. (Brings me closer to home)

13° 56′ 39.81″ N
121° 36′ 36.02″ E

  • BRAILLE / MORSE CODE

 

I want something meaningful and mysterious at the same time. Translating my favorite words or phrases into braille or Morse code seems exciting.

Ephesians 2:8 — “by grace through faith”

  • CONSTELLATION/s

Who wouldn’t want a constellation within reach? Mine will be my sign.

Capricorn

  • FLOWERS

My feminine side needs a room for ink. I chose a wildflower.

Gypsophila

Life Talk: Love beyond Social Media

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In this world that is rapidly transforming into a digital realm, I want to remind people why we should take a break from it all and just simply enjoy each others company and embrace love. No social media. Just back to basics. Two people – in each other’s presence.

Remember the 1st stages? Being attracted by their vibe, exchanging numbers, the anticipation of the first real conversation which leads to the first date. Followed by endless late night talks and losing sleep. Road trips, Shopping, romantic walks in the city, driving to high points, sharing stories whilst under the moon light and the lights of the city flickers until sun rise.

Acknowledging the chemistry and formulating a new bond. Phones go on silent so there are no interruptions. Letting your guard down and being goofy. Understanding each other’s sense of humor. Wanting some alone time, but with them of course. Playing nurse when they’re sick. Falling in love with their scent, and how after you hug them, you can smell it on your clothes for days.

The first kiss/the first time you’re intimate. Sharing secrets. Vulnerability. Love letters. Surprises. Sentimental gifts. Flowers. Holidays. Talking about them to your friends. Making it official. Introducing your parents. Reading together at night. Random surprise visits. Hugs/Kisses 24/7. Planning for a future. Driving down roads with beautiful houses.

That wonderful feeling of knowing that they’re just a phone call away. Comforting each other during hard times & when you’re apart, missing them, which allows you to value & appreciate those special moments you actually get to share.

We have become so preoccupied with social media and this digital life, that sometimes we forget the importance of appreciating our real life connections. Put the phone down & spend some quality time with each other & vibe. Nothing compares & nothing can measure. Don’t jeopardize real life connections for this digital realm – If you have something worthwhile, value it. keep it. You will never find a new one.