Thursday, November 29, 2012

itinerary: hanoi and halong, vietnam

i headed to northern vietnam early this month and the weather that time had started to get cooler which i love! i was supposed to go during a long weekend in august but i had a lot of apprehensions that time, considering my dough was at its utmost scarcity. i was also a bit scared when the posted weather in those months would mean chances of typhoons and needless to say but i say it anyway, northern vietnam likely equates to halong bay. although news can sometimes be downright horrible, as human as i am, reading news about boats that sunk in the bay slightly deterred my yearning to visit the UNESCO world heritage site.

but i am just glad that i took the leap of faith!

A typical ricefield in Vietnam on our way to Halong Bay
A typical rice field in Vietnam on our way to Halong Bay

i purposely chose an unusual photo for an introduction to northern vietnam because there are already tons of photos of halong bay all over the online world. and i don't want to be predictable.

oh let me cut this vague chase.

Day 1: 10-Nov, Saturday
10:00 Head to Changi Airport Terminal 3 by train
11:30 Check-in Vietnam Airlines VN 662 bound for Nội Bài International Airport in Hanoi
13:25 ETD SIN to HAN
15:35 ETA HAN (UTC +07:00)
~         Head to hotel
17:00 Check-in at Rising Dragon Palace Hotel
~         Arrange Halong Bay Day Tour
18:00 Quick City Tour
        Hoan Kiem Lake
        Book tickets for Water Puppet Show
        Dinner around the lake
20:00 Water Puppet Show at Thăng Long Water Puppet Theatre
21:00 Roam around while heading back to hotel
22:00 Back to hotel

Day 2: 11-Nov, Sunday
06:00 Wake up
07:00 Breakfast at the hotel
08:00 Halong Bay Day Tour pickup
~         Transit to Halong Bay
12:30 Arrival at Halong Bay Tourist port
~         Halong Bay Tour
17:00 End of Tour
~         Head to hotel in Halong
17:15 Check-in at The Ky Moi Hotel
18:00 Roam around the area
        Night Market
        Hang out by the beach
22:00 Head back to hotel

Day 3: 12-Nov, Monday
05:30 Wake up
        Head to the beach for a no-show sunrise
        Roam around the beach
08:00 Head back to hotel
~         Hotel Check-out
08:30 Take a taxi to Bãi Cháy Bus Terminal to Hanoi
08:40 Depart from Halong to Hanoi
~         Commute
        Take a rip off taxi to Rising Dragon Palace Hotel
13:00 Hotel Check-in
        Arrange transport service to the airport
        Lunch at the hotel
14:30 Roam around Hanoi a bit more
        Random places
        St. Joseph Cathedral
        Hoan Kiem Lake by day
        Chase daylight by riding a motorbike
        Circle around an already closed Temple of Literature 
        Hopeless saga to a market for souvenirs
18:30 Not so fast-food dinner at BBQ Chicken
        Buy delicacies
20:00 Back to hotel
        Make use of the strong Wi-fi signal in the lobby
22:00 Sleep

Day 4: 13-Nov, Tuesday
06:30 Wake up
07:30 Breakfast at the hotel
08:30 Head to airport with the arranged car
09:30 Arrival at Nội Bài International Airport
        Last minute souvenir shopping
        Check-in for Vietnam Airlines VN 661 bound for Singapore
        Extended lounging due to a delayed flight
16:00 Back to reality  (UTC +08:00)


Sunday, November 25, 2012

my hometown series: a typical barrio fiesta

having been ruled for about 300 years by the spaniards, some of us may still refer the small unit of government in the philippines as barrio but most of the time today, it's now being referred as a barangay. the traces of the once spanish dominion on our country, have slowly been fading away - save maybe, christianity. with the catholic religion deeply rooted in our culture, each place has its own yearly celebration that either honors Jesus or venerates patron saints.

part of my agenda of taking a brief vacation back home was to celebrate with my family the yearly fiesta celebration in our far-flung little barrio. as my mother has put it, it's a form of thanksgiving for the blessings throughout the year by sharing a feast to everyone, family, friends and even strangers.

Our barrio's little chapel for San Roque (Saint Roch)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

DIY Legoland Malaysia

a long weekend with friday as a holiday is a rare occurrence in this island state. given that its handful of non-working holidays are already plotted in the previous year, i still came down to an obscure goal of what i would have liked to do. my inability to fill these three days with a more carefully planned out jaunt, only showed how i could never be a great planner. i set this ultra pressure upon myself more than anybody in order to keep me going.

spending the three days in the island was something that i couldn't let my fate carve such proposition. it was beyond unacceptable.

over a month prior, i shuffled a few options for a better agenda and i chanced upon this legoland malaysia deal with a 5-star accommodation inclusive. the itinerary was one day in legoland, overnight at the hotel and on the following day, sanrio hello kitty town. i almost gave in to the deal but its strict time-frame shooed me away to sahara desert. to think, i'm always apprehensive about travel deals but it's just me.

Legoland Malaysia
Legoland Malaysia
(Look at those adorable kids making their faces to the camera!)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

in the city of majestic waterfalls - iligan city

after traipsing around cagayan de oro and bukidnon, my friends and i proceeded west bound to visit fame's home city. we did not take advantage on anyone because we're too good to indulge yet again of another free transport; that we took a bus and let the countryside air caress our faces in an hour and a half journey to iligan.

Timuga Falls