That Place Called Sagada: Trekking Experiences and Food Trip

“I’m just a SOLIVAGANT in a much different world than mine. And seeing this kind of view makes me wish that at all times, we as wanderers, should always be kind to Mother Nature. To hope and pray for the protection and preservation of God’s gift to us mankind.” -Jassy

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For our second day in Sagada, our first activity was the trekking to Bomod-Ok Falls.

According to our assigned local guide named Kuya Salvador, this trekking experience will take about 7,500 steps in order to reach this famous waterfalls in the area. Upon arrival, it was already a bit crowded. And except for me and Ate Arge’s mom, the rest of the group went out for a short swim near the waterfalls.

So while I was there, I’ve utilized my time by just enjoying the view of the place, do some bookstagramming, and also to take some videos and pictures of the area.

 

Anyway, the views of the mountains while we were trekking there were really beautiful and breathtaking. But on our journey back to the main site, it was very physically exhausting since we had to climb quite a number of stairs, and because of that, we had to stop and take a short break every now and then. Plus, the jeepney ride back to the main site was for one moment, a bit similar to the road trip to Shimla, India; I have never been there, but I’ve seen a travel documentary about it. So the similarity was there, and I was quite overwhelmed by that experience alone.

 

 

Back to the main site, we were welcomed by a very sumptuous feast for our lunch, and had a great time eating it all.

Just a little something for anyone who’s planning to visit Sagada, when trekking there, one should always make sure to really eat well because such energy is really needed to walk such long distances.

 

After our lunch, we went for a short side trip at the Sagada Weaving. Then head off straight to the Echo Valley, the area where the famous Hanging Coffins were also located. And since we were already fresh from our trekking in Bomod-Ok Falls, walking and climbing the stairs there was already a bit easier for us, and we stayed there for about 2 hours.

For our next stop, it was the Sagada Pottery House. A vintage place in where they make a pottery and sell it to its visitors for a very hefty price. Which is entirely understandable since the process to make it is not an easy one.

 

 

Since we still had time, Kuya Ron had decided to take us at Lake Danum for a short visit. And we really had a wonderful time enjoying the view of the lake despite the coldness of the weather. Then at 4pm, we were back in town for our free time to do our own thing like souvenir shopping, and food trip.

Well in my case, I’ve decided to join my fellow joiners for an early dinner at the Salt and Pepper Diner. Ordering their very own Grandma’s Delight paired with a local mountain tea; and went out on my own to buy some souvenirs to bring back at home, and take a short side trip to the Yoghurt House.

 

The Yoghurt House is definitely the kind of café that I would love to visit, and while I was there, I had no idea what to order. So I’ve asked their staff for an advice as to what is their best seller, and I was given their specialty – Plain Yoghurt with Sagada Honey. It tastes like a vanilla ice cream, but soft and sweet due to the local honey that both of which had really blended well. Moreover, I also had the time to be acquainted with its staff and found out that in Sagada, most of its students after school would actually do a part-time at the different establishments in the area. Which is something that is quite normal and necessary for them because they are a self-supporting type of community.

 

It was a drizzling and cold early evening by the time we were back to our guesthouse for we really need to rest and prepare for the bonfire session which would officially start at 8pm. And I must say, that bonfire session was definitely one of the highlights of our trip, and I’m so sorry that I just couldn’t elaborate more on that because it was a very private moment that I had to leave it that way.

So for our last day in Sagada, our call time was at 4:30am. A very early start in preparation for our sunrise viewing at the Kiltepan Peak, and that is why we really have to wake up way too early for the jeepney that will take us there will be arriving at the guesthouse at 5am; and at the same time, to put all our bags inside the van because Kuya Ron will be waiting for us at the Sagada Homestay along with our things after our trip from Kiltepan.

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That’s how our second day in Sagada had turned out to be and will share with you later the story of our side trip to Baguio and journey back home.

Thank you so much for reading.

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DAY 1: That Place Called Sagada: The Long Journey and First Day in Town

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That Place Called Sagada: The Long Journey and First Day in Town

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What is it about traveling solo that makes me wanna cry? Seriously, my recent trip to Sagada was already my second solo adventure. But from the moment that I arrived back home, I was crying so hard and I just knew that I will never ever be the same. Because it had already taken a special place in my heart and will truly long for it wherever I go. A desire that I hopefully pray that I will have the chance to visit it again, not once or twice, but for quite a number of times.

Anyway, Sagada, known as one of the most sought-after tourist destination in the Philippines, has always been at the top of the list of those places that I really wanted to explore in my our very own country. And I’ am so grateful beyond words for finally having the opportunity, the time to visit, and also get to know in person this queer small town in the Ifugao Province.

(Stopover in Banaue for Breakfast)

Well as usual from my previous blogs, I will share with you my travel diary about my trip there. However, there will be certain things that I would have to omit or filter for such reasons that those moments were so private or special that I just couldn’t share it; and that whatever that is, is something that I wanted to keep it to myself.

First of all, this trip was actually decided when I had the chance to book earlier this year a promo fare going to Manila and also had already planned to book my tour in Sagada under Ms. Aileen of FG Travelers, the same one that had handled our tour in Ilocos Sur and Norte.

Unfortunately, a day before the trip, I was informed by her that majority of its joiners in our scheduled tour had to reschedule it for another week. Considering that I’ am only a solo joiner, Ms. Aileen of had no choice but to transfer me to another travel agency. So by the time that I was informed about it. I was quite nervous and anxious because of the unexpected changes. But who would have thought, that such alterations in my Sagada tour would turn out to be a very unique and memorable experience. Truly a blessing in disguise.

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Moving forward into my story, I’ve arrived in Manila in the early morning of Thursday, and I was informed upon arrival that the new tour guide would pick me up in front of MOA SMX Convention at around 8pm. Therefore I had the time to visit my relatives in Makati before heading off to my assigned meeting place in the early evening.

Then at 8:30pm, Mr. Ron of Travel Ventours had arrived along with two fellow joiners named Miss Arge and her mom. And as for the rest of the group, they were picked up in a different mall. So by the time that our group was complete. We were officially on our way to Sagada with a short side trip to Banaue for our early breakfast, and a site seeing in its world famous Rice Terraces. According to Kuya Ron, the journey will take for about 14 hours including those many stopovers that we really had to do.

(Greeting the new day in Banaue)

Well, I must say, the journey was quite exhausting due to the number of hours that we were sitting in the van and also to our lack of sleep. But it’s a good thing that we were only 10 in a 14 seater van because it had really made us entirely comfortable in our sitting position all throughout our journey. Which was truly important since it’s a very long road trip. Thus, it was a big factor that made it less stressful.

I think it was around 5am that we’ve finally arrived in Banaue for our breakfast. So we were taken at the Banaue Sunrise Restaurant and Guesthouse. This Bed and Breakfast type of restaurant is known as the place where many travelers around Ifugao and Benguet Province would stop over. As to their food, it’s a bit pricey, but their servings are quite big. Plus, they provide such a very delicious brewed coffee. In which I’ve really enjoyed drinking while I was watching the beauty of the sunrise in Banaue.

(Banaue Rice Terraces)

After that, we went straight to Banaue Rice Terraces for a short stopover to take some pictures, and see in person as to one of the most stunning views in the world. But honestly, the views around Benguet were definitely more breathtaking than the one I saw in Banaue.

Anyway, the journey to Sagada from Banaue will take for about 2-3 hours depending on the weather. In our case, it was a bit foggy and then suddenly a sunny trip all the way to the mountains. Moreover, it was a bit scary because of the zigzag roads that we had to pass through, and I was a bit nervous. By the time that we were about to approach Sagada, everyone in our group was truly grateful for the sunny atmosphere. And from the moment that we had finally arrived in our guesthouse. We were all entirely greeted by such a cold weather.

Upon arrival in the guesthouse, we were given for about 3 hours to rest and get settled into our assigned rooms. Then go out again to eat our lunch at the Sagada Homestay Inn and Restaurant. Plus, if there’s one thing that I’ve observed in our first day in Sagada is that the cost of its meals there is somewhat expensive.

After our lunch, we went back to the guesthouse to drop-off two of our fellow joiners who wouldn’t be joining us in the trekking inside the Sumaging Cave. As for the other two in our group, Ate Arge’s mom and solo traveler Miss Rizelle, they would be going to a different site seeing.

(Sagada Homestay Inn and Restaurant)

The reason that there were four joiners who have decided not to join us was that it’s a challenging physical activity and that they don’t want to really exhaust themselves. But as for me, I wanted to know what the fuss was all about. So I’ve decided to really go for it.

Considering that the five of us who were willing to trek inside the cave are amateur trekkers. We were just requested by Kuya Ron (Tour Guide) for the safer option because the cave connection (Lumiang to Sumaging Cave) is for those who have such an experienced in cave trekking.

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Some tips for anyone who are planning to go there:

  1. Bring with you a waterproof jacket.
  2. Wear Leggings, or Shorts
  3. For your footwear, make sure that it’s a rubber slipper.
  4. Don’t bring anything. Both of your hands need to be free from any handy thing.
  5. If you’ll bring your phone or camera, make sure that its waterproof.
  6. It’s a must that at all times, you should definitely follow and obey your assigned local guide inside the cave. For its really risky if you don’t.
  7. Be physically fit, and be willing to hold those big rocks despite all of its muddiness and sliminess.
  8. And lastly, always pray for your strength and safety inside.

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(The Entrance Going to Sumaging Cave)

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(Group Picture)

By the way, even if the Sumaguing Cave was a much safer choice. It still doesn’t mean that it’s entirely secure. It is because, as a trekker, one should be very responsible and careful inside the cave. One mistake, and it could be fatal, and it’s entirely up to that person to be alert and attentive at all times.

Honestly, it was a very exhausting and scary experience, but the kind of experience that makes all the hardships inside totally worth it, and like I said, just be careful. The trekking took for about 2 hours and had really made us all physically tired and wet by the time that we were out of the cave. At 4pm we were back to our guesthouse to change and take a short rest before heading back to town for our dinner.

(Sumaging Cave)

For our first dinner night out in Sagada, Kuya Ron’s first choice was supposed to be in Salt and Pepper Diner, but the restaurant was already fully booked that we had to transfer to another one. Somewhere a bit farther from his first choice, the Sagada Hub. And upon arrival, I was surprised to know that for a meal, it actually cost about P150-200. I must say, for a local destination. It sure is expensive.

And since it was quite obvious that we were all so tired. We went back to the guesthouse so that we could sleep early and prepare for our 6am assembly time for breakfast because we really need to have an earlier start in our trekking to Bomod-Ok Falls.

So that’s the story of our journey and first day in Sagada, and I’m so looking forward to sharing with you my travel diary of our second day of trekking there.

Thank you so much for reading.

DAY 2: That Place Called Sagada: Trekking Experiences and Food Trip

The Vietnam Project: Day Tour to Hoa Lu and Tam Coc

“Go to a place where you’ll feel at ease and most likely yourself.”

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On our fourth day in Vietnam, we’ve had the chance to visit and experience one of this country’s greatest treasures. Which was a road trip to the Ninh Binh Province to visit its Hoa Lu Temples and a river cruise in Tam Coc. And if there’s a day tour that I would most certainly recommend for you to do when you’ll visit Vietnam. This is definitely one of those.

Just the same as I did in our Halong Bay tour, I’ve also booked this Tam Coc tour online, and by pure coincidence, both of these tours were booked separately, and it was only after booking, when I was about to check my e-vouchers, that I’ve noticed that it was all under the same travel agency named Halong Hanoi Transfer.

It was around 8:30 am in the morning that we were picked up by our tour guide at the Hanoi HM Boutique Hotel. Actually, the shuttle bus was kind of late for about 30 minutes; and for one moment, my sister and I thought that we wouldn’t be able to get some comfortable seats, but it’s a good thing that we were still able to for assigned bus was almost full by so many travelers from different countries like in Thailand, India, USA, China, and South Korea. However, despite the number in our group, we didn’t had that kind of friendly vibe to one another. Not like in our Halong Bay tour; it is because each one of us were really accommodating and friendly towards each other especially to those group of Filipinos that we’ve met on board.

This full day tour was headed by a very funny guy named Doc. At first glance, he may seemed to be so serious on the outside, but when he started talking to us during our journey. We were all quite surprised that he speaks in a very humorous and hilarious kind of way.

Well moving forward, the journey to Ninh Binh Province took only for about two hours including the stop over at a souvenir shop in which most of the items that are being sold there were handcrafted by the locals who are disabled.

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Then an hour before noon, we’ve arrived at the Hoa Lu Temples. A famous historical site in Vietnam that were built during the Dinh and Le Dynasties.

Actually, the place looks kind of similar to “The Temple of Literature” in Hanoi. So when Mr.Doc was giving us in our group some historical insights about the place, my sister and I were at an advantage. For we’ve remembered some of the main points that Mr. Bui Duy Khanh (tour guide on day 3) had shared with us, and because of that, we were able to answer some of the questions that were given to us by our tour guide.

From there, we were all given an hour to explore on our own the temples. And since the place was less crowded, we’ve had a wonderful time wandering around while taking tons of photos. Then head off straight to Tam Coc for our buffet lunch.

It was a very hot and humid fourth day, but I would have preferred that kind of weather instead of the rain. Cause then we wouldn’t been able to enjoy our tour. After our lunch, our guide was already waiting for us at the Tam Coc wharf in order to assist us in our ride to the sampan boat. In which this kind of boat can only accommodate three passengers, including the guide who will row the boat using either their two arms or legs. The river cruise took for about two hours, and despite the blazing heat of the sun, we most certainly had one of the best time of our lives, and it was such an adventure especially the journey inside the caves.

Some tips for you guys, always make sure to bring a bottle of water and your own snacks with you. It is for the reason that such items there are being sold at a touristy price. Plus, if you’re someone who’s also very conscious about being under the heat of the sun, make sure that you’re wearing a long sleeve, or a cardigan maybe, and to wear cap; and if you also have an umbrella with you. That would totally be awesome.

To continue our story, I would also like to share some thoughts with you my fellow readers, and that is, during that boat ride, I’ve realized that one must definitely try to utilize and absorb all the stunning views of Tam Coc. Well, of course, taking tons of pictures and videos there are definitely a must in order to have something to remember. But the thing is, as much as we want to capture everything. We just can’t. So the best thing that one should do is to just sit back, enjoy the ride, drink something (maybe a cold beer?), eat some snacks, listen to some favorite music on your phone, and just take it all in. Because the only thing that you will truly gain from it all are the unforgettable memories from that experience. Including the amazing views that you’ve captured right before your very eyes.

Furthermore, I would also like to say a huge “Cam On” or “Thank You” to the woman who was assigned to row the boat for us. That despite our language barrier, we were still able to communicate through our smiles and hand gestures. And by the way, giving some free snacks and tips to the rower is somewhat optional. But in our case, we were so grateful to her that we didn’t mind giving something extra because it was all worth it.

 

Back at the dock, Mr.Doc was already waiting for all of us in our group to assist us individually in choosing the bicycles that we will be using for our Do-it-yourself exploring in the small town village of Tam Coc. But the bicycle experience are for those who really knows how to ride the bike. So if you don’t know how to ride it, then the tour guide will give you the one hour free time to explore the small town village by walking.

At first I was somewhat hesitant to do it because it’s been years since I’ve ridden a bicycle. So I was totally nervous. But upon hopping on and moving forward. I was profoundly enchanted of everything around me. Almost to the point that I can’t believe that I was actually doing it. The first stop was at the center of the village, and then we went along the highway road going to the rice field of Bich Dong with an overview of the mountains of Tam Coc.

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It was most certainly one of the best highlights of our trip in Vietnam. Even I was kind of imagining that I was Elizabeth Gilbert of “Eat, Pray, Love”; cycling around the countryside, and greeting “Xin Chao!” to the locals every time we pass them on the road. Well I wish we could have explore more of the rural village. But we were on a schedule, and we have to get back to our meeting area as to where our shuttle bus was waiting to take us back to Hanoi. And during our journey, while I was looking outside the window of the bus, I’ve had this overwhelming feeling deep inside of me because that experience alone was definitely one of the coolest things that I’ve ever done as a traveler, and it was entirely unforgettable.

Exploring the Small Town Village of Tam Coc

Then at 6:30pm, we’ve arrived back to the city and were dropped off at our respective hotels.

So for our free time in the evening, Fatimah and I went out again to eat some dinner at a local restaurant that was just a walking distance from the hotel. I’ve ordered a “Dried Beef Salad”, and for my sister, she ordered the “Bird Salad”. But mine was more delicious than hers.

It was still an early night, and the streets had gotten a bit quiet and less crowded since the night market is only available during the weekends. And because we still want to utilize our time, we went out again to explore every nook and corner of the old quarter, and to continue buying some souvenirs. Cause by tomorrow morning, we would have to start packing our things for it’s our last day in Vietnam before we head back home to the Philippines.

The Rice Field of Bich Dong

The thing is that during those times that we were wandering in that area, both my sister and I felt somewhat emotional again. For the reason that we still can’t believe that we’ve mostly accomplished all of the things that we’ve planned for months. Furthermore, we know that deep down, we will surely going to miss everything about Vietnam; including those people that we’ve met, the food that we ate, the places that we’ve explored, the night market, and also some insights that we’ve learned.

Moreover, it feels so surreal that we were only there for about a number of days; because it felt like we were there for a long period of time. I guess it really shows that we’ve had such a wonderful time.

And that my friend is how our favorite and memorable fourth day had turned out to be.

By the way, are you looking for a place to stay on your next trip that provides such huge discounts and tons of reviews?

Because I would definitely recommend for you to book it under Agoda.com

One of the best sites for hotel bookings. And not only that, it’s convenient and reliable for every travelers out there.

 

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Hoan Kiem Lake

The Vietnamese Version of Chicken and Beef Salad

And below are the links that would direct you to the Vietnam Project Series.

DAY 1: The Vietnam Project: First Day in Hanoi

DAY 2: The Vietnam Project: Halong Bay Tour

DAY 3: The Vietnam Project: Hanoi Free Tour Guides

Thank you so much for reading.

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The Vietnam Project: Hanoi Free Tour Guides

One big tip of knowing a particular place?

Converse with the locals, and from them, you’ll learn something quite different.

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Old Quarter

Anyway, are you familiar of this kind of program in which there are some organizations in Hanoi that gives free tours to its foreign visitors?

But the tour is not technically free. For you will be the one who will pay for its transportation, snacks/lunch/dinner, entrance fees, and other gratuities. All you have to do is book online, inform them of the list of places/sites that you wanted to see, and wait for some confirmation from them if there’s a vacant schedule for you.

My first choice was the Hanoi Kids Organization, but upon booking, I wasn’t able to have a slot for our requested schedule which was on the 3rd day.

So I’ve decided to change our bookings to the Hanoi Free Tour Guides. A similar organization from my first choice, but this time, these are being handled by some college students who wants to do this kind of thing in order for them to practice their English language.

The organization had assigned us to someone who majors in economics named Bui Duy Khanh. He’s very friendly, and his English is really good. And as our private tour, he’s also very informative of its background and history on every major site that we’ve visited.

But I only did have one major concern, and that is in all of our tours, we’ve mostly used a taxi as our mode of transportation. So it had taken a big part of our budget. Luckily, we’ve only consumed for about 80% of what I’ve already set aside for that day.

Well if you are the very thrifty type of traveler, I would definitely suggest the Hanoi Free Walking Tours.

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Maison Centrale/Hoa Lo Prison

So what is the advantage of doing this?

Well aside from the fact that we will able to help these younger generations to practice their English. The good thing about availing for this free tour is that each traveler will have the chance to learn from a local’s perspective about the history, the culture and the people of Vietnam. Which is something that you won’t get to experience if you’ll just decide to do the tour on your own now that the Google Map is very handy nowadays in terms of traveling or exploring an unfamiliar place.

 

 

For our first tour, it was the Maison Centrale, or mostly known as the Hoa Lo Prison. It’s the place where the Vietnamese that went against the government were imprisoned, and tortured during the French Occupation. While exploring, I almost vomited inside, and I ‘am so not joking when I tell you that I was feeling nauseated while going to every cell, and see in person the kind of place that for sure would really disturb its every visitors. It’s just that, the thought of how they were tortured in some ways beyond your imagination was so insanely hard to grasp, and to think of all the pain that these people had gone through during those tough times. It’s just so sad and at the same time insanely creepy.

We were there for almost two hours before we’ve headed off to our next destination which was the Temple of Literature.

 

 

The Temple of Literature is an ancient temple and the very first university that was built in Vietnam. A thousand years old building which was dedicated to Confucius, sages, and scholars.

It was a very hot and humid late morning, and as much as we were trying our best to really listen to our tour guides’ insights about the place. My sister and I were really beyond exhausted to keep up and felt so bad for him. But then at the same time, we felt so grateful towards him because he was entirely patient to wait for us to rest, before we continue exploring.

 

 

After that, we had a short break by taking our lunch somewhere near the temple, (a place that was recommended by Mr. Khanh). But before our very short journey to the restaurant, I would like to share an experience in which we were actually scammed by our taxi driver. What happened was that, the driver acted out like he was not familiar of the place (it’s kind of hard to believe since his vehicle has a GPS), so he was driving off from one block onto another, and then go back as to where we were picked up at the main entrance of the temple; and from there, that’s when he had finally went straight ahead to the restaurant. And instead of paying the usual fare of 30,000 dong (P68 or $1.32); we were charged for about 60,000 dong (P135 or $2.64).

I know it’s not much compared to what we’ve heard from some Filipino travelers that we met on Halong Bay. Sharing that experience to its fellow travelers on how they were scammed from 100,000 dong (P225 or $4.50) all the way to 500,000 dong (P1,126 or $23) in just a matter of seconds. So I would definitely advice for you to be very careful in terms of booking a taxi especially from the airport to the city proper.

And at that time, I was kind of disappointed in our tour guide for not saying anything since he should know the exact direction of the place. But as already mentioned, we were so tired and hungry that we just sort of let it slip away and forgave the driver for doing something like that.

So moving forward at the restaurant, each one of us in our very small group had ordered such heavy meals for our lunch and it was very delicious.

 

 

We were there for about an hour, and during that time, we’ve had a sort of an open forum. In which Mr. Khanh was very generous to share with us about his experiences as a personal tour guide, and also enlightening with us the modern day culture of Vietnam, and how the war had molded them to aim a life in peace and tranquility. Also, in our part, my sister and I had pointed out some important information about the Philippines. Our history, our culture, the food, the day to day living of the Filipinos, and so many other things.

Then after eating our sumptuous meal, we went to visit the monument as to where Ho Chi Minh’s body was laid out and preserved for all the people to see. However, the place is only open for public viewing in the late morning. And in our case, we went there in the afternoon so we weren’t able to have the chance to go inside but had decided to take a picture of the monument.

 

 

Furthermore, who was Ho Chi Minh? And why is it that up to this day, he’s considered to be a very important figure in Vietnam history?

According to our tour guide, this man came from a very poor family background who leads a simple life, but because he love his country so much, and wants to help its people gain their freedom against the French government. He has decided to travel the world, working from one odd job to another, to learn about each country, and get some insights about its style of leadership, and from there, did some writing; for he’s also a journalist. And when he came back, he has done everything that he could to help his fellow countrymen in attaining their independence, and later on, was voted as the new leader of Vietnam.

 

 

Our next tour was the Presidential Vestige, the residential area of Ho Chi Minh during his leadership. Not the glamorous and French palace as you’ve surely seen in one of our pictures. Although at present, it is being used as a guest house to all of its very important foreign visitors.

His first house was located at the main entrance, in which he stayed there for about four years before moving into a simple bamboo structured type of residence. At first glance, the massive area kind of looks like that you’re in the French or English countryside. It is because the president loves to be with nature that he has requested to put up a variety of plants and a certain number of animals in which today still remains. I remember our tour guide sharing with us a story that when an Australian journalist had asked the president about his favorite working spot. He said that it was being outside in the garden that he tends to have the concentration that he needed the most in order to work.

An overview from a very inspiring leader who has dedicated his life to save and serve the people of Vietnam.

 

 

Anyway, my sister and I had both agreed that in our third day of exploring, this is definitely our most favorite place that we’ve visited. I mean, the place looks so picturesque that how we wish that we could live in that kind of peaceful environment. Then, for the last site to visit with Mr. Khanh, we head off to the One Pillar Pagoda. Which was a short walking distance from the Presidential Vestige. Legend has it that when a married man had prayed for a son, it was in that very same spot that he’d prayed wholeheartedly, and where his wish was granted.

That ends our day tour with Mr. Khanh, and after that, he guided us back to our hotel in the Hoan Kiem District. For our token of appreciation (cause giving cash is not allowed), Fatimah and I were actually not prepared as to what would be our gift for him. So we’ve decided to give him my sister’s “Privacy Glass Protectors for iPhones” in which she just bought before our trip to Vietnam. The reason was that we’ve both noticed in one of our discussions with him that he seems to enjoy talking about gadgets specifically about some iPhone accessories. So upon arrival at the hotel, my sister went back to our room to get it and give it to him. Then before saying our goodbyes, we took some photos together as a group.

 

 

Mr. Khan, if there’s an opportunity that you will be able to read this blog of mine. I just want to say that, Fatimah and I are so grateful that you’ve been our assigned tour guide on that day. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you so much for all the things that you’ve shared to us. We wish you all the best, and hopefully, after attaining your college degree, you will be able to pursue your plans of traveling to Singapore and Australia, and also to so many other places. Hope to keep in touch with you via email or Facebook. Again, Maraming Salamat (Thank You) and God Bless.

The tour ended at around four in the afternoon, so we still had time. And since it’s the last day of the night market, we had to make sure that we will be able to finish buying the souvenirs that we wanted to give for our friends and family back home. So after staying at the hotel to rest and freshen up. We went out again to start exploring the night market for the second time around.

 

 

Just a little thought before we continue, I would like to point out that our trip to Vietnam was not just about visiting some of the best spots that the country could offer. But we also took the chance to explore one of the most authentic parts of its main capital.

So wanna see the real Hanoi?

Wander around to every nook and corner of its old alleyways like the old quarter, and you will see the culture and day to day living of the Vietnamese people. Well, it was truly a mind-boggling experience, but it was something that we will never ever forget.

An insight that made me so grateful because I have gained something new in my quest to learn more about each place that I would visit and explore.

 

 

So on our last chance to experience the night market in Hanoi, I would definitely say that it was truly an evening to remember because the crowd had gotten way bigger than the other night. Plus, we really had a great time walking from one corner to another, trying to blend in with everyone around us.

Another advice, try to make sure that your visit to Vietnam falls on the weekend. For you will have so much fun experiencing the night life there; almost to the point that you’ll lost track of the time, and the next thing you’ll know, it’s already way past midnight.

 

 

As for buying some souvenirs, I’ve already mentioned that shopping in there can be very cheap. That for about P 2,000 ($40 or 1M Dong), you can insanely buy tons of items not just for yourself, but also for also for your friends and family. Just don’t forget to bargain at a very big discount.

So that’s how our third day have turned out to be, and I’m so looking forward to share with you our fourth day in Vietnam. Which was a side trip to the Ninh Binh Province to visit its Hoa Lu Temples, and enjoy a river cruise in Tam Coc.

Thank you so much for reading.

 

 

 

 

DAY 1: The Vietnam Project: First Day in Hanoi

DAY 2: The Vietnam Project: Halong Bay Tour

DAY 4: The Vietnam Project: Day Tour to Hoa Lu and Tam Coc

The Vietnam Project: Halong Bay Tour

“Search the globe, and you will never find a place that looks remotely like this.”

-Anthony Bourdain

 

Our second day in Vietnam is a full day trip to the 2,000 islets of Halong Bay, a very popular destination, and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Well I remember on that early morning when I was kind of worried about the weather since it was raining on our first day in Hanoi, but luckily it had slowly turned into a sunny day.

It was expected that it’s going to be a long trip, so my sister and I had to wake up way too early in order to prepare for it, and also because we don’t want to keep our travel agent waiting for us. By 8:30 in the morning, we were picked up by our tour guide at the hotel lobby, and assisted us to the bus that was already waiting outside.

Along with some fellow Asian travelers on board, the shuttle bus was kind of full packed. So it’s a good thing that we were still able to get such comfortable seats since the trip will take for about four hours to travel, and while we were halfway through our journey, we’ve had a short stop over at a souvenir shop in order to take a break for about 15 minutes.

 

 

I think it was around lunch time when we had finally arrived at the port, and from there, head off straight as to where our assigned boat was located. Then upon boarding and at the start of our cruising around the bay, all of its travelers were given a sumptuous and delicious seafood with Vietnamese dishes for lunch. Of course, we all ate right away due to the fact that all of us were so hungry from that road trip; and while eating, we were utterly enjoying the wonderful view outside.

After that, we were given the free time to relax at the sun deck, to explore around the boat, to take it all in the amazing views around us, and as usual, to take some photos.

 

 

In our tour, we were also given the option to Kayak in the emerald-green waters of the bay, or go for a bamboo boat ride. But all of us in our group had decided to go for the latter option.

By the time it was our turn, my sister and I were paired with a young Indian woman and her mother.

So while our designated local guide was rowing the boat for all of us, we both take turns in taking some pictures to one another, and for that, I will always remember them for being so nice and so kind towards me and Fatimah.

 

 

 

Moving forward, the Bamboo boat ride was such a fun experience especially when we get to see some islets of the bay in a much closer look, including some local families who actually live in a boat. But I was kind of disturbed because I’ve noticed that there are some scattered pieces of a Styrofoam floating around near the small caves. I just hope that the locals would do something about it, because it’s such a pity to see a marvelous place slowly turning into a garbage area.

 

I almost forgot, by the way, in case that you will have the opportunity to encounter a local seller in Halong Bay that sells some souvenir items for a price of 15,000 dong (P34) or below. I truly suggest that you will buy it right away because it’s such a bargain, and those products back in Hanoi would cost for about 20,000 – 40,000 dong per item.

 

 

For our next stop, it was the Thien Cung Cave (Heavenly Palace Cave). I think this part in our tour was definitely the most exhausting thing that we all did. Probably it was due to the fact that we had to climb quite a number of stairs just to get there. Moreover, it was so crowded. Tons of foreign visitors. So it’s either you’ll enjoy it there, or you won’t. Well in our case, we’ve had a wonderful time wandering in that area.

Well anyway, the Cave was enchanting and colorful to look at; but instead of taking photos, I’ve used my time there to just walk around, observing the place, and just letting my sister Fatimah take most of the pictures. After that, we were back once again to our boat in preparation for our trip back to the mainland, and while on cruise, we’ve had the rare opportunity to witness the beautiful sunset around Halong Bay. Which is truly a magnificent sight to see.

 

The thing is, for years I’ve been wanting to see Halong Bay in person, and never mind that it was such a long road trip because from the moment that our boat had started cruising around the bay, I’ve tried to grasp everything right before my very eyes. Already getting an idea of what my idol Anthony Bourdain had felt back then when he went to visit there for two days. Furthermore, it looks so beautifully majestic that made the journey all worth it. And because we really had a great time conversing with our fellow travelers on board, my sister and I are also grateful to the them for making that day a very memorable one; like our tour guide, two travelers from Thailand, one Singaporean, and a group of Filipino travelers from Manila (who are also our fellow passengers on our flight going to Hanoi), and so many more.

 

Then at around eight in the evening, we were officially back to Hanoi, and all of us were dropped off back to our respective hotels.

It was still an early evening, so my sister and I had decided to go out again after taking a short break; and since it was also the weekend, we had the chance to experience the night market in Hanoi; an awesome evening with a big crowd and lots of stalls that sells so many affordable products (in which Hanoi is already getting known for). From food, clothes, shoes, souvenir items, bags, toys. There are just so many things to buy!

Even for a budget of 500,000 dong (P 1,000 or $20), there are tons of items that you can purchase in that kind of amount.

Some tips, bargain all the way and go for the reasonable price that you are aiming for. So how can you do it? Be a good negotiator, and don’t just buy right away, because not all stalls sell the same price for a certain product and it actually differs from one corner to another. So be very meticulous in terms of purchasing an item that you wanted to buy.

Plus, we also had the chance to try the Vietnamese edition of KFC. And I’m so sorry that I’m going to say this but, I think our Filipino version is so much better and tastier.

 

Overall, it was a very unforgettable night and we really had so much fun blending in with such a massive crowd, which also made us look forward to the next night market.

And that’s the story of our second day of exploring.

Thank you so much for reading, and will keep you posted to the next part of our story.

 

 

DAY 1: The Vietnam Project: First Day in Hanoi

DAY 3: The Vietnam Project: Hanoi Free Tour Guides

DAY 4: The Vietnam Project: Day Tour to Hoa Lu and Tam Coc

The Vietnam Project: First Day in Hanoi

Vietnam is the kind of an exotic country that will always leave a huge impression to all of its visitors.

However on your first day, it’s going to be a real adjustment; and sometimes, you might have this vague and disturbing thoughts into your mind like,

“What am I doing here?” or “What have I gotten myself into?”

Well that kind of impression is quite normal on day one, and don’t worry, as you go along on your stay there, you will realize that it may seem a bit chaotic at first, but, it is a beautiful and authentic country. Plus, you will insanely and hopelessly fall in love of the place.

But if someone is going to ask me as to why I have chosen this country as my next trip abroad. The answer is, I still don’t know. It’s just that, when I had the chance to book a promo fare online, it was a spur-of-the-moment decision. I just booked some round-trip tickets from Manila to Hanoi for me and my younger sister, and that’s it; even I was surprised after I did it. And since we still have months to prepare for it, we’ve both decided to slowly do some research about Vietnam, then plan and finalize everything.

It was a sisterhood team-up that took months and months of researching and planning in order to hopefully make sure that we will be able to make the most out of our trip. For my part, I did the booking of airline tickets, hotel accommodations, arranging of our day tours, planning our itineraries from day one to five, and budgeting our finances. Then for my younger sister, she mostly did the navigating (which is a huge weakness on my part), finding the best spots for our food trip, checking out some useful information from other Vietnam visitors, my partner in taking photos (cause she’s really good at it), and of course, the bargainer for our pasalubong (souvenirs) for our friends and family back home.

After all the planning and preparing, we were officially on our way to Vietnam, and we arrived at the Noi Bai International Airport Terminal 2 at around 12mn. By the way, in terms of its time difference, Hanoi is one hour behind in Manila.

Moreover, one advantage of the Philippines as part of the ASEAN is that Filipinos can go to Vietnam without having to apply for its Visa on Arrival. Just set off straight to the immigration and look for the ASEAN sign as to where you will go to present your passport.

Then at the arrival area, we were quite surprised to know that the driver who was supposed to pick us did not arrive. So I contacted the hotel staff with regards to it, and he gave us an option to just take a taxi from the airport going to Hanoi HM Boutique Hotel, and also informed us that he is going to pay for our fare. The journey took for about 30-40 minutes, and upon arrival, we were so beyond exhausted that we had slept right away at 3 am. Then we woke up at 6am to get ready for the day, and ate some breakfast at the hotel’s small dining area with an overlooking view of the Hoan Kiem Lake. After eating our buffet meals, we went to the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater to buy our tickets in advance for the 6:30pm schedule; in which I recommend to buy the tickets way too earlier since it’s mostly a full pack show, and also to get the best seats.

Hoan Kiem Lake

Since we’ve already planned our itineraries, my sister and I already know what to do on our first day; so the first site that we’ve chosen to explore was the Hoan Kiem Lake. The reason is that if you will decide to go there in the late morning and beyond. Tendency is that you will bump into a lot of foreign visitors. After that we went to the Café Giang 39 to try its famous egg coffee, a place that can only be found in the middle of an old alley. For our next stop, we went to Café Pho to try its other version.

Both were very delicious, so it’s kind of hard to say as to which one is our favorite. The only thing that I could say about it is that each coffee is so fluffy, so foamy, and so yummy. Definitely worth trying.

Old Quarter, Hanoi

For our lunch, we ate at the Green Tangerine – an old restaurant in which the place looks like a touch of Paris in Hanoi. I must say, the food and its dessert taste delicious; and while eating you’ll really enjoy the ambiance of the area.

But before I move forward into our story, I would like to share some insights on our first morning of exploring in the old quarter, and that is, one of the surprising things that we’ve observed is that Hanoi is a very old fashioned type of city, and the locals there are kind of laid back. Well it’s just that, they don’t seem to be like the kind of people who are in such a hurry. But the ironic thing is, in terms of crossing the street, you have to be very alert because they ride their scooters way too fast. So if you’re someone who lives in a place in where crossing the street is too convenient for you, then be prepared to be surprise, and master the art of doing it.

Another useful tip for future Vietnam visitors, when buying a drinking water, or other important items. I suggest that you purchase it at a grocery or convenience store that has an actual price tag. It is because there are some local sellers who tends to take advantage of its foreign visitors. One example from our many encounters was that when my sister was trying to purchase one liter of drinking water at a street vendor, she was informed that it cost for about 200,000 dong (P450 or $9), and then it was lowered to an amount of 50,000 dong (P110 or $2). But when we went inside a convenience store like Circle K, we were so glad to know that such an item was only 10,000 dong (P20). So we bought a gallon for refill purposes (cause I had a tumbler with me), and it only cost for about 25,000 dong (P56 or $1.36). Which is definitely the right price.

Plus, it’s a good thing that they we’ve made a note by doing a list on certain amounts of dong if it would be converted into Philippine peso; something that we did so that we would not be scam by some local sellers, and of course to know how much to bargain.

And that covers up our first morning of exploring.

Cafe Pho

In the afternoon, we went to explore every nook and corner of the French Quarter. A beautiful district in where you can see tons of houses and buildings in the French style. And for one moment we thought that we were actually in Paris. Which was totally awesome.

Although it did rain in the middle of the afternoon, but it still didn’t stop us to wander around. As long as we have our umbrella and offline Google map, then we’re good. So while we were walking from one block to another. Little did we know that we were already near the place in where it sells a Beef Pho. In which according to my younger sister is definitely one of the yummiest noodle soups in the country. So we went there to try it, and I tell you, it taste so good.

Green Tangerine

Also, one of the places that we’ve passed by was the small restaurant in where my idol Anthony Bourdain ate some Bun Cha, and drank some local beer while conversing with former US President Barack Obama. Wish we could go inside, but we were sort of in a hurry since it was already past 5pm, and we have to walked back again to the Hoan Kiem District, in order to catch up on the Water Puppet Show. And my goodness, upon arrival, we were soaking wet due to all the walking that we did in the rain. However, we still have 30 minutes to change, so we first dropped by at the hotel, went to our rooms to change in our dry clothes, and when we’ve arrived at the Theater, we were just in time for the next show to start.

French Quarter, Hanoi

The Water Puppet Show is about the day to day living of the locals in Vietnam during the old times, with some local background music that makes it so enjoyable to watch. Since the dialogues are in Vietnamese, my advice is to read some information about the program before heading off to the theater. And one of the things that I really enjoyed there was that I was so amazed of its audience; so many foreigners from different countries all over the world. Plus, to hear them talking in their own native language was definitely a cool experience especially when it’s all blending as one.

By the way, please avoid taking too much photos or videos while the show is ongoing. It is because you will miss the real essence of being there. Moreover, you’re supposed to be watching the actual live show, and not through your gadgets. Trust me; it’s worth putting aside your phone or camera for one moment.

French Quarter, Hanoi

After that, we still had some time to explore the district, so we walked around the area before we head back to the hotel to sleep, since we really need to have an early start in preparation for our long journey to Halong Bay. And that’s it, our very exhausting and exciting first day in Hanoi.

Thank you so much for reading! 🙂

Thang Long Water Puppet Theater

 

Hoan Kiem District

 

DAY 2: The Vietnam Project: Halong Bay Tour

DAY 3: The Vietnam Project: Hanoi Free Tour Guides

DAY 4: The Vietnam Project: Day Tour to Hoa Lu and Tam Coc

Jassy’s Fun in Taiwan: The Story of the Unexpected Solo Adventure

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To travel solo to an unknown country takes a lot of guts, and a very meticulous planning, especially for a female wanderer. And in my case, the unexpected thing happened that resulted for me to go to Taiwan a bit earlier than I’ve already planned. For this travel was supposed to happen next year with some friends. But a month before the trip, I was informed that I’ve made a huge mistake in my booking, that instead of December 2017 it was booked for the month of December 2016. So when I knew about it, I was totally shocked, and since it’s a promo fare, I was not allowed to rebook it. But it made me think to go for it (even if two of my friends who were supposed to travel with me on this trip couldn’t come); in order for me to try it just once on how it feels to travel alone.

So with only a month to go before the big trip, I’ve utilized every free time that I’ve had to plan everything for I’m a very meticulous traveler; and since I work at the government, that also includes processing my certificate of “Authority to Travel Abroad” and my clearance. Well, it’s kind of exhausting right? But for the love of traveling, I didn’t mind it at all.

The thing is – to travel to Taiwan; you need to apply for its visa. But I’m so grateful that I got exempted for applying because of my visa from South Korea. All you need to do is apply online, and by the time that it would be approved. You could just download/print the Travel Authorization Certificate and present it to the Immigration upon your arrival at the airport, along with your round-trip tickets. It’s as simple as that.

How to apply for the Visa-Free Entry to Taiwan

Then on the day for me to go to Taiwan, I was utterly mixed up with such nervousness and excitement, since it’s going to be a first for me to travel abroad alone. And when our plane had landed at Taoyuan International Airport on December 2, 2016 at 12m.n., I was totally jumping from such happiness because I had finally arrived there. But it was too early for me to go to the city of Taipei. So as I’ve already planned, I’ve stayed there at the airport till 5 am, and I took the 1819 bus going to Taipei Main Station, along with a fellow Pinoy passenger as to whom I’ve just met at the airport. Her name is Eudelle, and she was very kind to travel with me in going to Taipei City. Plus, I had a wonderful time chatting, and eating noodles with her while we were waiting for our bus schedule. It was almost a one hour journey. And when our bus had dropped us off at the bus station, we both went our separate ways (cause she’s heading off to Ximen District), then I took a taxi going to my hotel which is located at Ningxia District so that I could catch up on my travel agent who was also going there to pick me up at around 9am.

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It was a cold and cloudy first day in Taipei City, but lucky for me it didn’t rain at all throughout the day.

Since I’m only for a very short stay in Taiwan, I’ve decided to book a travel agency. Cause I really wanted to utilize my stay there. Honestly, it was a bit expensive on my part. But, it was definitely worth it. For I was able to see and experience what I really wanted to achieve on this trip. I was a tourist and at the same time a traveler. And all of it was thanks to My Taiwan Tour, especially to my newly found friends Miss Iris and Miss Ting, for both of them were our assigned tour guides in the city.

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This famous “My Taiwan Tour” travel agency was actually recommended to me by a high school friend who also went to Taiwan on her own. This travel agency allows you to both book and choose your own day tours via online thru TripAdvisor or Viator. And for my 3 days stay, I’ve chosen to book its Ultimate Taipei Sightseeing Tour, Taroko Gorge Full Day Tour, and Tea of Taipei Tour for days 1, 2, and 3 respectively.

As for my first day tour which was the “Ultimate Taipei Sightseeing Tour”, it is a one day tour that focuses on visiting and seeing the must-see attractions within the city of Taipei. The assigned tour guide will pick you up from your hotel at around 9am. Moreover, I was totally lucky because my fellow companions in our group were all Filipinos except for one (for the other one was an Indian girl). So it was easier for me to get along with them including our tour guide Miss Iris, because she is so friendly, charming and approachable. Plus, she really shares a lot of insights in every place that we would visit. Moreover, my fellow companions were having these shocked reactions towards me for being so brave to travel alone, and that they were also amazed by my fierceness to do such a thing. But being part of their group, I didn’t feel that way. Cause I really had a great time with them.

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So here is the sequence of our Ultimate Taipei Sightseeing Tour:

The Presidential Office Building

The first part of our tour was a short side trip to this political building in order to see the place and to take some pictures. Moreover, I was so surprised while we were on the road because I’ve noticed that most of the buildings there in Taipei are kind of old. Something like an old school thing that makes you feel like you’re in the 60’s or 70’s.

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Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall

We were there for about an hour. Just in time for us to see the changing of guards. And Ms. Iris was very informative by giving us a summarized and detailed history of Taiwan.

Longshan Temple

It is the biggest temple in the city; in front of it is a Buddhist temple and at the back of it is a Taoist temple. Oh you’ll be surprise when you’ll get to enter inside, for it is so lively and festive to look at.

Taipei 101

This is definitely my most favorite part of my day tour. So even though that it has taken a big part of my budget in order to get to the observatory, it was definitely worth paying for. And the 37 seconds elevator ride to the 89th floor was totally awesome! Plus the view at the top? My goodness! Utterly spectacular!

I would also like to point out that Anthony Bourdain was actually the very reason why I really wanted to visit and go at the top of the Taipei 101. I guess it’s because, even for one moment. I just want to have a share of his experience during that Layover episode of his in Taipei. And the thing is – I actually saw that episode twice before my trip there. Watching it in advance in order to have an idea about the place, its friendly people, an insight to their history, exploring their exotic foods, and of course, learning about its culture.

Lin An Tai Historical House

I really enjoyed this tour because it feels like we were transported back in time during this country’s old era. And I was fascinated while listening to our tour guide’s discussion on how the rich girls during those times were being served and well maintained. Talk about being pampered way too much. Oh I would love to experience something like that. Joke!

Pass by the Grand Hotel

The very first 5 star hotel in Taiwan.

Yangmingshan Sulfur Valley

This one really looks spectacular. But we weren’t able to appreciate it all in our group because of the odd smell of the sulfur. Totally weird.

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Beitou Thermal Valley

This famous hot spring really looks entirely picturesque, and it was one of our favorite visits within the city. But of course, its visitors are not allowed to go near the water. Because it is way too hot (boiling point), and that it could totally damage your precious skin. So please don’t take the risk.

National Palace Museum

It was the second to the last league of our tour, and also one of the most informative one. For this world famous museum has thousands of collections from all over the world especially from the main land China. But for the reason that almost all of us in our group were already tired from all the tourist spots that we’ve visited since that morning. We really weren’t able to appreciate it as much as we wanted to. However, we were still trying our best to be as attentive as possible to our guide, because we don’t want to waste all of her efforts in giving us some insights about all the famous artifacts in the museum.

Shilin Night Market

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There are tons of night markets in Taiwan, but this particular one is actually the biggest night market in the city. Then this was where our tour for the day has ended and where we were dropped off by our tour guide. The reason was that the area is so big for shopping and food trip that you could just get lost there for hours and hours. And our tour guide really wants us to have a one heck of a night time experience in Taipei.

But in my case, I only stayed there for an hour because I was so exhausted from the lack of sleep, that I just couldn’t take it anymore. So I’ve decided to go back to the hotel to rest and prepare for the next day. Overall, it was a very enjoyable first day in Taiwan.

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As for my second day, I’ve decided to go for the “Taroko Gorge Full Day Tour”. It is an outside of the city trip. This day tour consist for about 11 travelers (including six Filipinos), and we were picked up from our respective hotels at 5am so that we could catch up on the 6:15 am express train going to Hualien City. Although the train ride was almost for about three hours, I didn’t mind the time difference at all, because I really enjoyed watching all the stunning sceneries outside.

Then upon arrival, we were welcomed by our tour guide named Miss Josephine. Oh you’ll really enjoy her company because she’s really a funny one to listen to, but most of us in our group had a hard time understanding her English. But still, she was really trying her best. So we totally understand.

And there goes our tour in Hualien City and Taroko National Park.

Taroko Gorge is actually considered as one of the 7 natural wonders of Asia. A mountainous area which is definitely a must see in Taiwan. For this place is so damn beautiful that it would truly take your breath away and makes you speechless all throughout the trip. And my advice for those who plans to go for a visit, please take a picture first, and after that, use the rest of your free time to really absorb everything around you. For no matter how hard you will try to capture everything. No camera could ever give such justice on how spectacular this place is to really look at. Moreover, I assure you that it is entirely worth traveling all the way from the city of Taipei.

So after our adventure at the Taroko, we went on a short side trip back to the city, specifically at the souvenir gift shop, the local marble museum, and at the Pacific Ocean Seashore. And then we went back to the train station in order for us to catch up on the 4:32 pm train schedule back to Taipei City. It was a very satisfying second day, and I was totally sad because I had to part with these two Filipino friends that I’ve also met during my first day in Taiwan. I guess, I was totally lucky that we all booked the same schedules except for the next day tour. Wherever they are right now, I will always remember them, and all of the things that they’ve shared about their experiences from traveling to so many different places around the world. Oh I miss you Ate Ruby and Ate Beverly.

Then by the time that we were back to the city, we were dropped off at our respective hotels. Actually, I was supposed to go to the Ximen district with my fellow companions cause I was told that it’s a must see area in Taipei. But because of the rainy weather, we weren’t able to. So after an hour of resting in my room, I’ve decided to go out again (since it already stopped raining) to explore the Ningxia Night Market, which is only a walking distance from the hotel as to where I’m staying at. I was there for almost two hours, just strolling and exploring the area; searching for some pasalubong to bring back home, and some good food to eat. Moreover, it was a very overwhelming experience that I will never ever forget.

Ningxia Night Market

As a reader of my story, you could say that my first day in Taiwan was mostly about visiting some of the famous tourist destinations within the city of Taipei; while my second day was about going on a short adventure at the stone mountains of Taroko. So for my third and last day, it was actually a very unique and authentic one. For it was about learning something about the famous tea culture of this diversified country. So I had the chance to experience a breathtaking cable car ride going to Maokong, a visit to the tea museum, learning the art of drinking tea from the tea masters/experts, a road trip to the Bagua tea plantation, and an overlooking view of the Qiandao thousand island lakes.

But my most favorite part of that day would be the food trip at a local Taiwanese open restaurant at Maokong, which also gives its customers an overlooking view of the city of Taipei. Serving us with such local cuisines and delicious dishes mixed with tea leaves. Definitely a very enjoyable lunch date with my new friends Miss Ting (Taiwanese) and Miss Ruth (From Singapore). Overall, it was such a beautiful and memorable day with them. For not only was I able to make such new friends, but I had a great time conversing with them; talking about a lot of things especially about my beloved country the Philippines, and vice versa. Cause they were also sharing something about their own country – their people and its culture. Plus, I would definitely describe my third day as a very Anthony Bourdain kind of tour, a very satisfying day in Taiwan before heading off to the airport at 6:30 pm.

However, I was a bit too early at the airport. And I would have to wait for about 3 hours before the check-in counter would be open for its Cebu Pacific Passengers. So what I did there was just stroll around the area, its food court, and went surfing online while waiting. But I never thought that I would bump into a stranger, a fellow Pinoy traveler who was also waiting for the check-in counter to open. And what made me so impressed of this particular person was that he has traveled to so many different places in the Philippines; and a total of nine countries in Asia. I mean, I was totally intrigued that I was asking him a lot of questions. Even asking for some tips for a new traveler like me, and that’s what I like about wandering, you get to meet a lot of people who will inspire you along the way to be better as to what you are aiming to be more passionate about. So Aleks, it was really nice meeting you. Moreover, I wish you all the best to all of your future travels.

 

As for my mistake, the wrong booking on this trip has led me to a one heck of an adventure that I will never ever forget. Talk about destiny of being a year earlier from my plans of visiting Taiwan. 

Oh thank you so much Taiwan for such a very fun and memorable adventure. For this trip has been another eye opening experience for me to explore and to see a lot of places; the thirst and desire to travel more. So even though I still have no idea as to where the wind will take me again. One thing is for sure, it is better to  be prepared in advance, like don’t spend way too much, research more about some tips about traveling, look for possible potential next destinations, and always save a part of your income for future travels.

So for those who are still in doubt of traveling solo? Just once, try it. Who knows you might like it and wants to do it again. I hope I’ve been an inspiration to my fellow friends back home; the girl who has some kind of anxiety problems was able to travel abroad on her own. And hopefully, when I’m fully ready, I would like to travel solo again, and this time it’s going to be a do-it-yourself all throughout kind of trip. Hoping and Praying for it.

Thank you so much for reading everyone!