Friday, November 1, 2019

One Day In Ho Chi Minh City: What To Do?

After my wonderful trip in Danang, I flew back to Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon) for two nights because Dexter, my partner, has never seen Saigon before. It was his first time in Vietnam and I thought might as well see a little of the city before heading back home. If you are wondering, picture above is an expensive Vietnamese coffee that we've tried from Legend Coffee. The shop is easily found around Ho Chi Minh city. It was pretty good.

Now although I said I spent two nights there, but really, due to our flight timing, we really only had one day to really tour the city. Thankfully for the team from Rubicon Tours and, they managed to customise our tour according to our flight timing. Even though we only had a day, they ensured that there's a good mix of educational, cultural, historical, and modern visitation. We love the flexibility of our travel agents.
We got to stay at a beautiful hotel located at a super strategic area where Ben Thanh Market is only a few minutes walk away. Gracy R&J Hotel is a recently rebranded hotel, previously known as Lotus Central Hotel. We got one of the best rooms that has a massage chair in it! Trust me, the massage chair helped especially when you are constantly on foot during your trip. My only issue with it is the hot water in the bathroom, unfortunately, I can't seem to get them stay hot for long. After every 5 minutes, it goes chilly. I've tried asking the hotel people twice but they weren't much help as every time they come, the warm water seemed fine to them. I just gave up and have quick showers only. Other than that, I really do like the place. It was pretty, luxurious feeling, clean, and comfortable. The staffs were overall friendly and the breakfast spread had quite a variety. Check out the detailed review here.

We left for our tour pretty early in the morning as our guide want to make sure we'll get to experience Cuchi Tunnels before all the other tourist flock the place. Plus, with the early ride, we got to experience the extreme traffic of Saigon when everyone was trying to get to work.
I've been to Cuchi Tunnels once, when I was really young, this was a good refresher to what it's all about. Being able to explore the vast network of underground tunnels from the 1940s, made for the guerrilla Viet Cong Forces during the American War, it was interesting to learn about the hiding and living places as well as seeing all the gruesome battle items used to trap its enemies.
Speaking of war, enhance your experience by taking a trip to the War Remnants Museum. This place was established in 1975 and it's definitely not for the fainthearted as the images and displays from the American War are extremely graphic. However, a place I would definitely recommend spending more time to read and walk through the whole place if you are interested in such history.
If you are up for it, you can continue learning about the American War journey by visiting the Re-Unification Palace as the place was designed by Ngo Viet Thu for South Vietnam's former President Ngo Dinh Diem during the American War. We got to see the unique underground bunker where it holds the war room, telecommunication centre, and equipments used back then.
We drove by the Notre Dame Cathedral, it was under renovation, and Saigon Central Post Office. Stopped somewhere nearby for a walking tour to Nguyen Hue Street in the middle of District one, where all the fancy people lives with their luxury hotels and malls. Here, we stopped by outside Cafe Apartment for a picture. This landmark offers over 30 businesses that fills all you tea and coffee addicts' palate.
Finally, no tour doesn't end with a little shopping. At least this time, we actually have items we'd like to buy. Saigon Square Market and Ben Thanh Market are some of the best shopping spots in Saigon. They sell everything from ceramics, clothes, coffee, nuts, and more! Our guide were extremely kind to assist us when we told him our list and brought us to a stall that had a friendly seller with reasonable pricing.

Overall, we had a great time understanding a little bit about the American-Vietnam War. It was very real and it makes you feel something as well as provides some rationalisation in your that war is really not the answer to everything. Plus, our guide had a way of explaining to us about Vietnam, past and present, in the most funny yet relatable way.

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Thursday, October 31, 2019

3 Days 2 Nights In Danang: What To Do?

It's been quite a few years since I've last visited Vietnam. This time, having the opportunity to go back, I didn't just want to see Saigon, I really wanted to see the Golden Bridge in Danang. So naturally, Danang is a huge part of my recent trip to Vietnam. I spent two nights there, following a Danang tour from since I personally have no knowledge on the language and it's my first time there, it's best to just get a guide to make things easier.
The good part about my travel agent is that they were able to tweak my schedules to follow my flight arrival time as I was taking Vietjet for the entire trip, thus the timing is a little different. Plus, I had a full last day off so I could rest, sleep in, and enjoy my hotel facilities. Exactly just how I like my trips, a break from all the touring.
For both nights, I stayed at the Grand Cititel Danang Hotel. It was definitely a great place to stay as it was not only a newer hotel which has a pretty decent international and local food, and clean rooms, it's also located at an ultra convenient location for people who wants to but supermarket stuffs back to their home. Lotte Mart is only 5 minutes walk away from the hotel, you could easily spend a morning or an afternoon shopping and chilling around there with a cup of Vietnamese coffee from Phuc Long of Highlands Coffee. For a more in-depth review of the hotel, check out my review here.
For my sight-seeing tour, here a rundown of it.
First Day
Bana Hills! Yes! The first place that I will be seeing is the freaking Golden Bridge. To get there, we have to take a cable car up. According to my guide, there are three gondolas at the moment with the 4th one coming soon. Two out of three cable cars take about 20 minutes to get up to the first stop to see the Golden Bridge. Going up, I had a taste of the newest gondola. It was clean and comfortable.

I completely did not expect it to be so cooling in the morning up there, the weather was so nice. If you are going with children or anyone who can't stand cold, better to pack a cardigan or a jacket just in case.

If you don't know, Golden Bridge is the bridge that went viral last year when it opened in June 2018. It's truly, well, a gorgeous golden bridge that's being held by enormous stone looking hands. It was so surreal seeing the place in person but I have to warn you that the place is filled with tourist. There were so many people, that you can't even have a proper picture with having anyone around you. Should you still visit the place? Yes for sure!
After checking out the Golden Bridge, you should take the cable car up to enjoy yet another beautiful place called the French Village. It's definitely another location you shouldn't miss when visiting Danang. Located at the top of Bana Hills, French Village is obviously a heavily French inspired place with castle looking buildings, a ton of food choices, an awesome beer corner, and hotels too if you'd like to stay there a night or two. Other than just taking pictures, enjoying the weather and the view, you could also check out the play area called the Fantasy Park. It's known as the 3rd biggest indoor game zone in Vietnam.
I highly suggest taking a whole day off just to hang out around there. For us, we had to leave in the afternoon. We had a short stop at the tourist shopping place nearby Marble Mountain, where they sell huge marble sculptures, jewellery, silks, and food items. The food part about this place is that they are not pushy at all, only when you are interested, they'll assist you.
Marble Mountain was the next tour destination, a location that's a little underrated if you are a cultural buff and loves to walk around learning about local religion stories and believes. This area has plenty of pagodas, statues to admire, and greeneries. There are five marble mountains, each named after a basic element, water, earth, air, fire, and metal. It's an outdoor walking area, thus be sure to check the weather before visiting.
Most people only visit the biggest and most famous mountain Thuy Son, the Water Mountain. There's an entrance fee and it's extra charge if you take the elevator instead of the stairs. Mind you, the trails are not super challenging but if you are with elderly or very young children, be sure to watch their steps as they can be a little unpredictable and slippery, especially in the cave area. As you exit through the entrance, there were ton of people selling marble looking items such as face rollers, necklaces, bracelets, decors and more.
At night, we travelled to Monkey Mountain, also known as Son Tra Peninsula to visit Linh Ung Pagoda, specifically the 67 metre tall Lady Buddha or as we know it as Guan Yin. We were told that Lady Buddha stands tall facing the waters to protect Danang city from winds and storms. Visiting at night was great as Lady Buddha statue was well lit by flood lights, so a picture with any camera will still look great. Also, we had a great view during the night, city lights were gorgeous and the weather was perfect.
Day Two
For our second full tour day, we spent them at Hoi An. The first destination was My Son Sanctuary and it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This place offers an introduction to the ancient Champa civilisation where you'll see impressive Hindu-themed ruins and stone sculptures within a refreshing tropical jungle surroundings. This sanctuary now solely serves as a tourist spot, thus you won't see any religious activities happening there. Also, this is an open visiting spot, thus check the weather beforehand.
Silk Village was the next stop where you'll get to see the production of local silk and even amazing sewing skills. I would considered it as another tourist shopping spot as they do sell slightly over priced items but similarly, they were not pushy and you can assure the quality should you buy from them.
The final part of my Danang tour is a guided walking tour around Hoi An's ancient town which includes two main attractions of the Japanese Covered Bridge and the Ancient House. The Japanese Covered Bridge is a still functioning beautiful historical piece of Japanese architecture where it was previously used by the Japanese to reach the Chinese quarter across the waters.
The Ancient House we've visited is the House of Phung Hung, one of the most visited ancient houses as its super close by to the Japanese Covered Bridge. Phung Hung means prosper and this ancient house demonstrates the perfect fusion of Vietnamese, Chinese, and Japanese architectures. This house holds the title of 'National Historical and Cultural Site' since 1993 as it houses many documents about the architecture, culture, art, and lifestyle of the Hoi An's business circle from the old days.
Then, we were free to roam around the Ancient Town ourselves as well as checking out the night market after dinner. Shopping in Ancient Town is quite hectic, they have wet and dry market area, clothes, tailored clothes, and souvenirs stores. So, if shopping is your thing, you'll love this place. Otherwise, you could be like us, taking cover (as it was raining heavily) at one of the cafes trying out their unique egg coffee.

Overall, I think Danang is an amazing place to visit. So much culture, so much history, and so much nice places to see. I always recommend people to go with a travel agent especially if it's your first time in a location that you don't know the language, especially in area such as Danang, that's still developing, the locals might not be as familiar when it comes to international languages, thus having a local guide will definitely help a lot. Additionally, people from Rubicon Tours and were really friendly, helpful, and easy to custom plan your trips with. Making the trip an enjoyable for us.


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Thursday, August 15, 2019

My Thoughts On Natural Trilogy's Vitamin C Skincare Products \\ JQLeeJQ

A review on more vitamin c products. It's certainly a Summer trend that I believe will phase out as soon as Fall comes around. You can check out the products here: Hope you enjoy!


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Saturday, August 3, 2019

BRTC Powder Cleansing Tea Bag? \\ JQLeeJQ

Now you can clean your face using a... teabag? The world of beauty gets more interesting by the day. If you are interested, they are available online here: Hope you enjoy!


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