Saturday, August 30, 2008

The other HCM temple tour...

Okay, can you spell Gabbana?

Day-off shot #2

Hmm, do I want Lily, the Knight, or that sinful hb?

Hello, Gucci. Meet my PLDT paraguas.

Day-off shot#3

Baka ma-Oprah in Hermes ako... hahaha

Love LV

Hahaha! Don't laugh but sometimes, one of the measures I use for determining progressive a country is the kind of luxury stores present. Hehe! Sounds really superficial, huh? But really, in the spirit of simplifying things, my theory is that the available designer stores in a country tell one of two things: either a signification population of consumers in that country can afford to buy a $2,000 handbag or that country has a good number of visiting tourists.

For the former, I can't think of a better example than Japan. Check out "Locate a store" section of Chanel, LV or Dior, and the like, and almost always, it is Japan that has the most of stores for a particular brand. Hehehe!

For the latter, when I went to Bangkok a couple of years ago, I Googled where the luxury stores are just to pay homage. Hehe! It was the first time I got to go in a Dior and a chanel shop, and even if I wasn't able to bring anything home, it was a good experience. And crazy as this may sound, I had to have a photo by the window display. Hehe! Some tourists get high from visiting the grave of Elvis Presley. Some people get high from visiting Coco Chanel's legacy. Hehehe! When Richie and Suki got back from a Paris trip some years back, the two knew that I would really go gaga over their photos in front of every designer store. Hehehe!

Anyway, so part of my personal itinerary during the Vietnam trip was to locate Vuitton. Hehehe! I was almost about to give up on it but during a walking trip with Tey, we stumbled upon not just LV, but others as well. It was such a nice surprise.

Tey and I just came from Bookazine and Dogma and when we crossed one street, Dolce and Gabbana greeted us. Hahaha! My pulse rate went up. Hehe! I knew that that was just the start, and I was correct. There was Cavalli, then there was Gucci. We don't have freestanding Dolce and Gabbana and Roberto Cavalli shops here (well, there used to be D&G) but at least, we have Fendi, Marc Jacobs and the most recent addition, Balenciaga. Haha! The most pleasant was finding the Vuitton store the last. Hehehe! I didn't find Prada, but it was okay.

So even if it was pouring and we were just in our pambahay chic attire (Hehehe!), I just had to ask Tey for some souvenir photos. Haha! Thank you, Tey, for putting up with me. Hehe!

Alster, if I ever get to visit Japan, you already have an idea which area I'd be asking you to tell me how to get to. Hehehe! Omotesando.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Photo fun yah?

Uhm, since this is going to be another quickie, I thought I'd post some photos thanks to an amusing site I learned about through Allen's page. Hahaha! Go for it. Photo fun yah?

Swamped with stuff...

Haven't had the time to blog or do the other usual things I do online, because there's just too much work. I'd like to write about it, too, but maybe when things get a little better. Haven't even finished the Saigon trip stories. Hay.

Friday, August 22, 2008

HCM Chronicles... Part 3...

Welcome to the showroom

Some of the artists

And some more

Camwhoring starts at the gates... haha

super mini Cu Chi Tunnel

I wasn't meant to be a VC

Wish ko lang

At the meeting room

Another tunnel

That's a real live person

No to war

No to war talaga

Tey listening to the troubles of the VC

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Here we go

Wooohooo...I fit

Don't ask why I have a backpack

And there was light again

Cu Chi Tunnel conquerors

While I did enjoy the Mekong River tour, I was much more excited about the Cu Chi Tunnel tour. I've been reading up on it several weeks before the trip and it was definitely on my must-do/must-see list while in HCM. (There's another item, but it's much more trivial compared to this. That's reserved for another post. Haha!)

Just like the first day, everyone in the gang woke up at the agreed time. And by 820, we were already on board the bus headed for Cu Chi province. Each time I saw a sign that had Cu Chi and how many more kilometers to go, the excitement furthered. Hehe!

We had a stopover at a handicraft factory, and I was just impressed with how patient the "artists" were in doing their craft. Their attention to details was really admirable. Unfortunately, I couldn't afford to buy any of their stuff because it was just too expensive for a Third World citizen like me. Hehe!

Anyway, my biggest concern was whether to go down the tunnel or not. I'm a bit of a claustrophobe, but I already psyched myself for Cu Chi for the simple reason that I don't want to have a "What if" moment when I get back to Manila. Haha!

So when we reached the point where it was time to go down, I even found myself going ahead of the pack. Maybe because I wanted to go out as fast as I could. Hehehe! But I did enjoy it because we were all just laughing and of course taking photos while we were down there. Hahaha! We only took the short tunnel because it was really hot inside and I don't think I would survive the deeper tunnel. Hehe!

Aside from the tunnel, I enjoyed the rest of the tour - learning about how the Viet Cong survived and fought the Americans, and all.

In the afternoon, we had a city tour. A very wet city tour because the rain poured heavily. It was okay though because we had our "day off" shoot at the Reunification Palace. Hehehe!

So yes, there's going to be a part four and a part five of the trip to HCM. More Cu Chi photos to be posted in the Photos section.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

HCM Chronicles... Part 2...

If in the late night, the area where the hotel was felt like a ghost town, it was the exact opposite as soon as the sun rose. The streets were full of people. Houses beside the hotel were eateries similar to our very own carinderia. The main street was full of people. And I guess we were all surprised by the sea of motorcycles we saw when we crossed an intersection. It felt like a motorcycle attack. Hahaha!

One good thing about this trip is that everyone followed the itinerary we prepared. Hehe! There was no difficulty in getting people to wake up at 630AM even if we only had a couple of hours sleep. And when one says it's time to go, all the others follow. Hehe!

Our itinerary for the first day was a Mekong river tour. We got the tour from Sinh Travel. It's one of the most popular tour operators I think because when we reached their office, there were already a lot of fellow tourists waiting. The tour we got was a whole-day trip that entailed a two hour trip to the town of My Tho where we boarded the boats.

Our cruise included a trip to a rice paper factory, coconut handicraft manufacturers, bee farm, orchards, and a coconut candy factory. Then there was also lunch at the Phoenix island followed by a trip to a local village where we were entertained with traditional Viet music.

I guess my favorite part was the banca ride along the creeks. It felt like being transported back to several decades ago. Hehehe!

The tour ended around 4 or so and we were back in HCM by 6. After resting a bit at the hotel, we headed out for a taste of Vietnam night life. Our first stop was Quan An Ngon (138 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia St., Dist. 1) for dinner. It was obviously one of the most popular restaurants because of the number of people who were there when we arrived. Quan An Ngon looks like an old French-style village. There are wooden tables and chairs, some banana trees, and a bar. Service was really quick, too. We didn't wait that long to get a table. Our orders arrived rather quickly. And the food was really enjoyable.

After dinner, we decided to take a walk to a nearby Trung Nguyen Coffee shop. But after walking for several minutes, we couldn't find the shop. When we did find it, we all had a good laugh because it turns out that the reason we missed the shop was that it was already closed. Haha!

So instead we went to Lush (Ly Tu Trong Street- District 1) for drinks and dancing. I really loved the place. The crowd was relatively young. There was a good mix of locals and tourists. And it kind of reminded me of Government, Jill's and Embassy. Hahaha! I met a Thai guy named Golf but I was stupid enough to be stupid at the wrong time. But I was amused by the whole dynamics of whatever it was. Hehe! It was okay. The 100,000 dong door fee gets you two Tiger beers. The drinks are a bit pricey though, but it still is a must visit.

We left by 1AM. Tey and I were still in the mood for some more partying so we headed to Apocalypse Now (2C Thi Sach), The place was bigger and much more crowded compared to Lush, but I felt more at home at Lush, if you know what I mean. Tey and I went back to the hotel by 2AM. Next, a trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels and a very wet afternoon city tour.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

HCM Chronicles... Part 1....

All set to fly

Branding kung branding... hahaha!

HCM Gang sans Reena

Yep, we're already in Vietnam

Let the camwhoring begin

Camwhoring pa din

So the long weekend was spent at HCM. It turned out to be a really good trip. I was a walking zombie when I went to work last Tuesday (straight from the airport) but it was okay. The three days at HCM was full of good experiences and memories. Not even the rainy afternoons could dampen the "high" we got from the trip. The last time I went out of the country was a couple of years ago, and I'm just glad that I got to go visit another country again. Haha!

Since this would be quite a long story, I decided to chop the storytelling into pieces. Hehe! Our flight to HCM was at 11:00 via Cebu Pacific. We touched down at HCM by 12:30AM (HCM time). It was a good time to arrive because it wasn't that stressful. I don't think there were other flights that arrived at the same time, so we got out of immigration very quickly. (I must also say that HCM's airport is way better than the newly opened NAIA-3. It's much modern, in terms of the facilities. And it appears to be more organized.) Hay, it's really frustrating.) Upon exit of the arrival area, we were fetched by hotel staff. I couldn't be more thankful. Haha! Getting lost in a foreign country at an ungodly hour is not my idea of a vacation. Hehehe!

After a thirty-minute drive, we reached our hotel - Saigon Mini Hotel. It was located in District 1. Exact address is 102/1A Cong Quynh St., District 1. It was also very affordable. $30 a night (twin sharing) and you already get comfy beds, clean bathrooms, fresh towels everyday, AC, free WIFI, mini-bar and daily breakfast. It's a budget hotel but I love it because the staff were very polite and helpful. There's also a PC terminal guests can use for Net surfing, so that's a pogi point. And the location is really good because it's near Ben Thanh Market and De Tham street where tour operators are.

Upon checking in, Tey and I went out to go to the nearby convenience store to get some bottled water and instant noodles. We wanted to go to a bar, but it was really late and the streets were deserted, so we ended up just going back to the hotel and getting a good sleep.

In a couple of hours, it was all going to be very different.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

HCM Pic 1 of 749....

Just a quick blog entry. Now back in Manila. Arrived at 430AM via Cebu Pacific. Now here at the office. It's going to be one really long day. Hahaha! I'm now starting to feel the fatigue from the three-day Ho Chi Minh adventure. Haha! Will probably upload photos tonight. Still need to go through all 749 photos. And that still doesn't include the cameras of Thea, Reena and Steph. Hehehe! Really good long weekend, I must say. Tiring, but really good. Hahaha!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hello from Saigon...

It's only now that I got an access to a PC terminal. The past two days have been so packed with tours and all. Went to the Cu Chi Tunnel this morning. Afternoon wasn't too good, because of the heavy downpour of rain. Hehehe! Still, it was okay. Tons of pictures to share when I get back to Manila. Kicking myself for not being able to attend the CS party yesterday. Just writing some random things. Will try to blog again before leaving for Manila. Wooohooo!

How was your weekend?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I'm also asking...

Hahaha! There's an ongoing bazaar at the building's la cantina and Books for Less is one of the concessionaires. Look what I found while going through the stacks of books for sale. Hahaha!

And no, I didn't buy it.

The book was just too amusing, it would be stupid not to have a stupid photo. Haha!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Beijing wows the world

Olympics 2008 Opening Ceremony - video powered by Metacafe

I got to watch some portions of the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics last Friday from the hotel.

I don't remember how the opening ceremonies of the previous Olympics were, but what Beijing prepared for the world was just awesome. Really awesome. I can just imagine how exciting it must be if you were actually there watching the four-hour event.

Everything was just really impressive. I loved everything.

I didn't get to finish the entire thing though because I had to play Dr. Love to a friend. Hehehe!

Found the clip above from another blog. Reposting it here so that those who didn't catch the fantastic ceremony can see bits of it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Eleka nahmen nahmen...

Let his flesh not be torn
Let his blood leave no stain
Though they beat him
Let him feel no pain
Let his bones never break
And however they try
To destroy him
Let him never die

- Wicked

This is all I could post at this very moment.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Weekend affair with Dumaguete

Hey, hey Dumaguete

From a grand airport to a small one

Walking to the arrival area

Motorbikes still are the fave of the people

Century old trees line the boulevard

Marker for the St. Paul Sisters of Charity

Sinful treats at Cafe Manila (Apple turnover for only P65)

Why Not Disco? Wonder who the speakers are here. Hehe!

Boulevard stroll in the afternoon

Street food galore

La Residencia de Señor Angelo para el fin de semana

Silliman University

Pizza!!! Wait, is there meat on this?

Who's the man looking stupid at the Silliman gates?

A building at Silliman University

Why am I holding the street sign?

Going back to Manila... huhu

Thanks to work, I got to go visit Dumaguete again. The first and only time I visited the city was in 1996 or 1997, I think. I was still a freshman in college, and I got to visit the island because of an org activity.

Anyway, I was really glad to be able to go back there again. Except for the row of restaurants along the boulevard, not much seems to have changed. Dumaguete is still a laid back and cool city.

We stayed at the La Residencia hotel, which gave a nice view of the ocean (except that the room I got had a different view). Hehe.

After work during the day, colleague NN and I spent time walking around and just enjoying the city. Saturday night, we took a walk along the boulevard. It was nice to see how relaxed everyone seemed to be. There were people jogging. Some were having a picnic. Others were also having a leisurely walk. Of course, the panorama wouldn't be complete without the usual lovers sitting on a bench facing the sea and probably talking about how they'll conquer the world with their love. Ack! (Yuck, bitter! Haha!)

On the second night, we had dinner at Hayahay. It's a bar/restaurant by the beach. Food was good and affordable. Good servings. But they didn't have bucket of 6 beers. Huhu! After dinner, we decided to do a walking tour of the district where the hotel was. The nice thing about being a "tourist" is that you can do all sorts of crazy stuff, without having to worry about someone recognizing you. Hehe! So NN and I just took stupid photos of ourselves, and that was actually fun.

Flight back to Manila was Sunday afternoon. It was pretty hot that day, even hotter when I arrived in Manila. Augh! Got home by 5PM, and rested only for an hour before heading out again to have dinner with Bernice at Friuli. But that's another blog entry. Haha!

Good Dumaguete trip, I must say.