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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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Leaving Home.

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How do u cope when you have to leave behind everything you’ve known? How will you find the courage to call a new city or country home?

It’s often said that you can probably find a Filipino in every country in the world.
It’s no longer unusual to hear that one of your friends is going to a different country, that your neighbor will leave to settle in another town or you family will move abroad and that you can stay with them when you pay the country a visit someday.

As more and more Filipinos leave their homeland, the reasons for doing so progressively varied as well. Some migrate in search of a greener pasture, some go solo for a high – paying job, others leave to take further studies and still other go in pursuit of a global adventure.

IT IS ALL ABOUT BALANCE. Yes, it’s possible to love where you are without loving where you’re from any less.

1. DISCOVER YOUR OWN HAPPY PLACE.

As soon as you leave you’ll likely be missing a lot of things from home. These are the good old favorites that give you comfort: people, places, food and experience. It is not wrong to miss all these associations but be careful not to devote all of you time and energy into everything you’ve left behind. Try to discover new people, places, things, experiences and food every week.

2.  KEEP IN TOUCH AND DON’T BURN BRIDGES.

Just because you’re physically far from close friends and family doesn’t mean you have to be emotionally distant as well. Yes, they will change, and you will eventually change too. Instead of assuming that you won’t understand each other because of your different experiences and commitments, assume that at the end of the day, you can if you want to.

3. INTEGRATE.

Find groups that pique your interest or volunteer for community events. There are great ways to get to know your new home better, not to mention an excellent way to make new friends. Time flies when you’re having fun, and you’ll feel at home in no time.

Hope this helps.

 

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: 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

 

PIG OUT: Kanto Freestyle

 

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If you’re always into 24/7 breakfast finds here in Metro Manila then Kanto Freestyle will surely be a hit for you. This fancy kind of carinderia was first introduced to me back in 2014 and since then I’ve been back and forth to this place.

Aside from college students and your typical squad, KF as we call it, is famous to call center agents and those working on the night shift. Serving your all-time favorite Pinoy breakfast, gourmet style, Kanto is a certified go – to for the masses.

Because of their growing fan base, the management decided to spread out their branches all over Manila. So far, I’ve been into 2 of their branches; one in Mandaluyong and the staple tambayan inside Kapitolyo Pasig.

The design of the restaurant is very cozy but rustic. It is a mixture of wooden furniture wit industrial lighting. The vibe is so warm since most of the KF were old houses transformed into a restaurant.

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KFB Kapitolyo. Photo courtesy of https://macoypagong.wordpress.com

Every KF branches is jam-packed so it is expected by the regulars that you have to wait for a while just to be seated.

Once we had our table ready, our server handed us the menu with a complimentary plate of chips. Normally, the appetizers will be in a separate order but since we were put on a long wait, it was considered free. Usually, it will take about 15-20 minutes before the food is served.

Every Kanto meals is served with one cup of garlic rice, tomato pesto slices and 2 eggs (either sunny side up or scrambled). The viands will depend on the customer’s choice. They provide a wide variety of pork, beef, fish and chicken meals all the time.

So far, I’ve tried beef tapa, fried chicken, Vigan longganisa and pork belly. Also, I chose scramble as my thirst quencher. 

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We also tried their pancakes, champorado and French toasts.

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And for dessert, we had grilled buttered suman and deep fried Oreos.

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In conclusion, I must say that aside from the long waiting queue, my appetite was fully satisfied. The food is great and affordable. The gourmet presentation is always a hit. The service is fast and the people are amazing. Good job.

MORE ABOUT KFB. 

Branches

 

 

 

PIG OUT: Happy Tummy

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In the heart of Baguio City, Happy Tummy is a Thai inspired restaurant that boasts a very traditional but cozy ambiance of the metropolis. Originally, we were planning to take our lunch at the Ketchup Food Community. However, the place was packed so opted to visit the branch near Hill Station.

Once inside, you will notice that the restaurant is al fresco. The place is very simple and unassuming but in a good way. The interior is made out of wood as well as the tables and counter tops. It gave us a chill homey vibe perfect for a lazy day.

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Contrary to their branch at Ketchup Food Community, this Happy Tummy is still open for more customers and you no longer have to wait in line.

Before leaving our place, we’ve already planned out what we’ll be having for lunch. So it didn’t took us a while before placing an order. The server was polite and very engaging Also, the service was fast.

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We started our meal with Chicken Tom Yum. At first, I was a bit hesitant to try it because it looks pale. But once I got a hold of the soup, I must say that it was great. The consistency of the broth was perfect. The vegetables were not soggy and the chicken was tender. So far, this was closest I’ve ever been to an authentic Tom Yum.

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Our main course includes a large order of garlic rice, Thai Fried chicken and Fried Tilapia both with tamarind sauce. The food was served hot. The chicken was crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. I love how it was perfectly cooked and the side dish were crunchy and looks fresh. One of the viands that we had was suggested by the server. Happy tummy made a huge overhaul of the humble local favorite. Just like the chicken, it was served to perfection.

Happy Tummy is the perfect place to have your family lunch or dinner with friends. The menu is a faultless combination of Filipino and Thai cuisines which you will surely like. I am planning to try their Pad Thai, satay and curry on my next visit.

To have a quick glimpse on the menu, here’s what I can share to you.

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More about Happy Tummy

Open Hours: Everyday from 9am to 9pm
Location: Ketchup Food Community – Romulo Drive, Baguio, Luzon 2600
                    Near Hill Station – Casa Vallejo, Upper Session Road
Contact Information: +63 9238784968

Taking your friends to an EPIC Vacation.

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  • Create a PERSONAL plan.

Make this trip about celebrating a life history. Spend some time to talk to each of your friends. Encourage them to join the trip you are planning to celebrate:

a. a promotion            b. a birthday        c. an achievement     d. friendship anniversary.

  • Always plan for a group getaway.

Nobody wants to feel left out, so make it about a set crew, like your childhood friends, classmates, work buddies, teammates. Pitch an outgoing outdoor idea instead of a laid back get together.

  • Set a challenge.

Always allure your friends of reaching a big goal while on your trip. Tie the adventure to learning a new skill, like learning how to surf, climbing a mountain, cliff diving etc.