Son Tinh & Vietnam Beers

Beers are important part of a human’s life! (Please forgive that very biased statement! Haha) 

And as I explore Vietnam from South to North, please forgive me, but I didn’t find any difference between Saigon Beer and Hanoi Beer (and Saigon Beer Green and Red!). But I do find their difference among other beers that I’ve tried, they’re lighter and easy to drink. 🙂

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They’re the kind of beer that I would enjoy having in every meal, something to look forward to in every visit to Vietnam.

When we were in Hanoi, one of our friends invited us for a dinner in Highway 4. It was not just the weird food that I like about that Christmas Eve dinner but it was also the good company and the Son Tinh Premium Rice Spirits. It’s like a mixture of traditional and novel taste that complimented to the very fine Vietnamese food. I hope that this liquor will be one of Hanoi’s future tradition and that you’ll remember to try as you explore Hanoi.

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Tagaytay “Peaceful” Weekend Itinerary

It’s always nice to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city every once in a while and find some time to have some time alone for reflection and meditation. 

For me, Tagaytay is still the best place for keeping in touch with your self and be aware of whatever is happening in your surroundings and relationships. Because it’s just an hour (or two if it’s traffic!) away from Manila, it’s very convenient to just take a bus from the bus station under MRT Taft to go there. 

My idea of a “peaceful vacation” are having the following: coffee, books, pen and notebook to write random things and more and more quiet time. Here’s my Tagaytay Peaceful Weekend Itinerary:

DAY 1

Saturday AM:

As soon as you get there, breathe in and out. Feel the cool and fresh air. Starbucks got the nice spot where you could see Taal Lake and Volcano but quite noisy sometimes because many people prefer to stay there.

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Saturday Dinner: CAFE VERBANA 

This is one of the best restaurants in the Philippines. 🙂 The service is superb, food is really good and the place is just so serene. It would be nice to have another peaceful getaway by staying in Country Suites so I could just eat at Cafe Verbana over and over! 

MUST TRY: Bulalo 

QUALITY TIME: Taal Vista Hotel

With the Live Band playing familiar songs, a bottle of Champagne is surely the best complement to a wonderful conversation. Cheers!

DAY 2

SUNDAY BREAKFAST: Bag of Beans

I’ll never get tired of the “bottomless” house-blended coffee together with the apple pie and the beautiful view of Taal Lake.

My idea of peace is reading while having coffee in Bag of Beans. Haha.

Please be reminded that there are two Bag of Beans in Tagaytay. The photos were taken in the new branch near Olivarez. Don’t forget to bring home some cookies too!

Sunday Lunch: Sonya’s Garden


Aside from the famous spa that Sonya’s Garden offers, the food which the ingredients are all from their garden is my favorite. 

This is the menu for our Eat All You Can Lunch/Dinner for Php 683 per person:

  • Garden Salad Greens (create your own salad)
  • Bread (one of the best I’ve ever tried!)
  • Pasta
  • Dessert
  • Beverages (I want to bring home!)

It’s also open for breakfast from 8am to 10am for Php 427 per person where they serve Filipino and Continental dishes.

I always like the bricks in Sonya’s Garden, full of history. 

Finally, on the way back to Manila, maybe you want to drop by Ilog Maria for some souvenirs and for “personal toiletries” but don’t forget that you need to hike just a little bit:

Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm is very dedicated in proper beekeeping and advocates living “naturally.” Their neatly handmade soaps smell really good but aside from the soaps, my favorite is their lip balm. The bee pollen will definitely guard your health and increase your immunity.

Don’t forget to spend some time alone and reflect. Remember, this is peaceful weekend itinerary. Haha.

Siem Reap: some pieces for home


“The air is different here,” that was my first description of Siem Reap, the home of the largest Hindu temple of the world, (and the place that I was dreaming about exploring by boat for the past months) and a place for the second largest airport in Cambodia and most “touristy”.

As I wander around the town by foot and by the usual Tuk Tuk that they offer you in $1, I battled with my feeling of doubt. Am I in the right place? 

I looked at the architecture, tried to converse in Khmer,  asked curious things to prove my doubts wrong, then yes, I was lost. 

The image of Cambodia that we traditionally grasp from the media that’s available to us feels different and surreal. I’m sure Angkor Wat is amazingly beautiful but talking about the “Cambodia now” doesn’t become a topic for most of us. 

Cambodia is beyond temples.


TONLE SAP RIVER SETTLERS

I was surprised that there’s a tour to see the poverty in Cambodia in floating villages. I was asking myself if Cambodia is doing this to gather more NGOs and minimally solve the problem of these settlers for now by inviting the tourists to donate something to them to support their basic needs

We didn’t go to the traditional tour and decided to see how the family living in floating houses in Tonle Sap River near the street. 


It was amazing how they move their houses from one place to another whenever they needed to especially if someone will park their boat or use it. Men of the families are usually in the water checking everything that they could do to support the family.



I find the Kitchen very efficient and neat.


And since I could never tell a story just by looking at them, I tried going around the river with some Filipino bloggers as we shout from time to time as the boat sways.


I have seen kids going to school in barefoot that shows how the current situation promises a wonderful future for Cambodia.



SAME BUT DIFFERENT

Like how we Filipinos adapt to the changing demands of our current society as the BPO Industry promises growth and slowly replaces our own language with English, I am seeing the similarity with Cambodia as it uses USD more than their Riel because of its growing demand in the tourism industry.



I feel sad at times that we, Filipinos, often speak English than our language but I feel the same whenever foreigners ask Cambodians why they don’t use their money most of the time.



I HOPE TO BRING HOME

Traveling is always a learning experience. When you travel, there always a time when you will realize that the world is big that keeps your humility.

As I travel to see the world and show the how it is to be a Filipino to the world, I’d like to bring some pieces of my Siem Reap visit to the Philippines by wishing that we have the following:

CLEANER PUBLIC TOILET.



and MORE TRASH CANS.


I still need to see the temples and the picturesque sunrise in Angkor Wat tomorrow but yes, I’m loving it here in Siem Reap- good conversations, beautiful people, wonderful merge of cultures and laughter. I’m truly grateful to have this opportunity to spend time with my neighbors, BlogFest Asia 2012 made it happen.

Twitter: @blogfestasia12





Some people think that eating “balut” is a challenge in X Factor, some people likes it too much that they even make it to several different dishes. As a Filipino, I prefer eating it the traditional way: boiled with vinegar or salt.  You might or may not agree with me, but the taste of balut brings me memories of home that only belong to the Philippines. (In the photo is Abu, a fun Indonesian Couchsurfer I met in 2011.)

This is my favorite suspense thriller travel video so far. Haha. I think it’s totally not making any sense but I just really love the fun. It was actually our anniversary trip last February and while in an island in Palawan, we just got so hooked in video editing that we even had a competition between the two of us. 🙂

Well, I like how Taku composed his video but mine was reblogged by Club Paradise (the island resort we’ve been) so I think I won. LOL.