The Vietnam Project: Last Day in Hanoi

“Vietnam is a new modern and at the same time an old-fashioned type of nation. Well, it does have its own similarities with its other neighboring Southeast Asian Countries. But what makes it unique from all of them? I think it would be the French influence and the sense of nationalism of the Vietnamese people. A country that is so proud of its ancient culture and traditions.” -Jassy

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In continuation of sharing with you the story of our trip in Vietnam, we are officially down to the fifth and last day of our exploring there.

So when the day had finally come for us to get ready and pack our things in preparation for our journey back to the Philippines. Fatimah and I were both feeling kind of emotional because we still can’t believe that it was almost over. And to make the most out of the time that was already left on our stay there, the first thing that we did was to enjoy the last few moments of eating at the hotel’s breakfast hall – taking it all in the ambiance of the area, greeting our fellow travelers, and of course, looking out once more the amazing view of Hanoi city specifically the Hoan Kiem Lake.

Since we still have time before checking out, we’ve decided to visit once again the Hoan Kiem Lake, and just sit at its nearby benches, and enjoy the view while drinking some lemon juice and taking some pictures. After that, we walked for about 10-15 minutes to go to the “Kem Trang Tien”, a small factory that sells a locally produced ice cream. And I must say, their ice cream is definitely not too sweet, but it tastes so delicious, and despite the lack of its artificial flavors, it didn’t actually hurt my tonsils at all, especially since we’ve tried a variety of its different flavors.

 

 

Then at 11:30am, we were back at the hotel to check out, and leave our baggage in the lobby since we’ve requested Mr. Henry Nguyen that we would like our driver to arrive at 6pm. So we still have the whole afternoon to explore again.

For our lunch, we went exploring at the old quarter to find and try the world famous Banh Mi 25, and all the walking that we did in order to find that place was definitely worth it because their sandwich tastes so yummy. However, the place was a bit crowded for the reason that there were tons of foreigners who were also familiar with the popularity of this French Baguettes. So it’s a good thing that we were able to get a table. Plus, I had the chance to meet the new owner of this third-generation family business.

We were there at Banh Mi 25 for more than an hour, and then we’ve continued our exploring from the old quarter all the way to the St. Joseph Cathedral. At first glance, we thought that we were in France because of the European ambiance of the area which makes it also a very enchanting site to visit.

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For the rest of the afternoon, my younger sister and I just walked around the other side of the French quarter all way back to the Hoan Kiem District. It was really exhausting, but we didn’t mind because in a few hours, we will be on our way to the airport and we just want to absorb every surrounding that we would see in Hanoi. Then in the late afternoon, we took the time to take a short break at a certain overlooking café near the HM Boutique Hotel and ordered some take-outs at the Popeye’s for our dinner later at the airport.

And as I’ve already written from my previous blog, it’s kind of hard to believe that our stay in Vietnam only took for about five days. Because it tends to feel like we’ve stayed there for a number of weeks.

 

 

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After that, we were back at the hotel to take our luggage and wait for the car that would transport us back to Noi Bai International Airport. And while waiting, both of us had given our deepest gratitude to Mr. Henry Nguyen (Manager), and also to all the hotel’s staff for the wonderful customer service that they have given to us during our stay at the HM Boutique Hotel, and for that, we will surely miss them. So if you’re looking for a wonderful place to stay in your upcoming visit to Vietnam, I would definitely recommend this hotel for its one of the best spots to stay in Hanoi. Just don’t forget what I’ve noted about it during our first day there.

Then we were on our way to the airport and had arrived there at 7pm. The thing is that the journey should only take for about 40 minutes. But due to the heavy traffic, it took us for more than an hour just to get there.

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It was still an early evening, so we took our free time by sorting out and making sure that we won’t have an excess baggage. Then ate our dinner, and had taken some short naps while waiting for the check-in counters for the Cebu Pacific airline to open.

And while we were also there, we’ve discovered something new about the culture and the people of Vietnam, and that is when a family member would go abroad, (either as an overseas worker or an exchange student). You will be surprised to know that a lot of people will send him/her off at the airport, and I’m not just talking about their immediate family members, but also the extended ones – the close friends, and if possible, including the neighbors. It’s like the whole town was actually there. Although that kind of culture is somewhat similar in the Philippines. But the surprising part is that these people love to bring tons of foods with some utensils (including kitchen knives!). Just shows that their airport isn’t that strict when it comes to their security. Something that I don’t usually get to see back home.

 

 

Anyway, we’ve also had the chance to converse with a certain Vietnamese Family, who were also there to send off their younger sibling because he will be working in Japan for about three years. They were very friendly, and from our conversations, I’ve learned that the Vietnamese are the kind of people who love to live in peace, and that is why it is so rare for them to hear some activist that opposes their government, but nevertheless, they truly trust its leadership. In which case, I can sort of agree.

By the way, in case that there’s a possibility that a particular Vietnamese local would give you something like some food, please accept it graciously even if you don’t want to. Because the Vietnamese are known for that, and in doing so would somewhat be an impolite thing to do.

 

 

Also, it was a very exhausting night while waiting for our flight back to the Philippines. But from the moment that we were officially on board, and were ready to take off, I was tearfully emotional. For I still can’t believe that the trip was definitely over.

Moreover, I’m also grateful to God for making our journey a very memorable and safer one. Bringing with us also all the unforgettable experiences that we’ve gained from there. Including those people that we’ve met, and making us believe the importance of being content in life, the love for our family, and showing us the passion of patriotism to our very own country. Something that we’ve bought with us back home, and wanted to share with our fellow countrymen.

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For our next trip, I hope and pray that we would be able to gain more insights and learnings just as much as we did from all those previous travels that we’ve already made.

I guess that shows that the more you travel, the more you will realize how small and different we truly are from one another.

As I finish writing the story of our trip, I would like to dedicate and say my heartfelt gratitude to our friends and family who’ve been giving me and my sister their all-out and 100% support, especially to my parents. Moreover, a special mentioned to a friend of mine that I’ve met in Taiwan, Aleks Paat. I just wanna say thank you so much for all your help in sharing with us your tips and insights about Vietnam especially for being so accommodating to all of my inquiries during those months of planning. Again, Maraming Salamat!

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And course, I want to say a big thank you to my younger sister Ray2x for choosing to come with me and be a part of this unforgettable experience. Seriously manghod, I’m so grateful for the all the patience that you’ve given me specifically during those times that I was acting way more anxious, and for that, I’ am truly sorry. But nevertheless, I’ am so proud of the success that we’ve achieved on this trip because it had made everything so worth it, and I’m so looking forward to exploring and seeing more places with you, my dear sister. Love yah!

Well, that’s it, the story of our exploring to one of the most awesome places in Southeast Asia. Next to the Philippines of course!

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Cam On Rat Nhieu Vietnam!

(Thank You So Much Vietnam)

Till we meet again!

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Plus, thank you so much for reading the Vietnam Project Series!

God Bless!

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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

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

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That Place Called Sagada: Chasing the Dawn and the Journey Back Home

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“The best camera in the world is viewed within our very own eyes; and the best photos are those MEMORIES that we will always treasure, no matter where such desire of wandering would take us.” -Jassy

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On our third and last day in Sagada, we went on a short visit to Kiltepan Peak. In which I think was really a very enchanting moment, and that I truly enjoyed it there including the jeepney ride experience and the Arroz Caldo for breakfast.

Although it was so crowded by the time that we’ve arrived there, I was still lucky enough to find such a good spot for viewing the sunrise. Then after taking some videos and pictures, I just used my limited time to take it all in the beauty of everything around me while I was listening to some music on my phone.

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Then at 6:30 am, we had to go back at our assigned jeepney since Kuya Ron will be waiting for us at the Sagada Homestay for breakfast. And because I already ate at the Kiltepan Peak, I just ordered their coffee and went out exploring the place. Plus, enjoying the overlooking view of the whole town of Sagada while I was drinking my mug of coffee.

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You know what’s weird, the thing is that I actually have a phobia when it comes to dogs, but while I was there, I was not afraid of them. In fact, for one moment, I felt so brave to be near them and even took some pictures of them. And I think it’s one of those places in the Philippines where you can find such different varieties of dogs wandering freely around town; because for the locals, their dogs are so special that there’s a penalty if you will harm them.

And in our last few moments before leaving Sagada, I knew that I’ve fallen in love with the place, and will always long for it wherever I go. Then at 8 am, we were officially back on the road going to Baguio, but this time, crossing the Halsema Highway, one of the world’s most dangerous roads to travel.

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By the way, the journey to Baguio via Halsema Highway will take for about 5 hours, and despite those heart-stopping moments on the road. I was totally amazed at all those stunning and majestic views outside our window. And how I wish that I could just take tons of videos and pictures of the area. But I couldn’t. For the only thing that I can do was just to take it and breathe it all in especially during those times when we had a short stopover at the Philippine Highway System Highest Point.

 

Another side trip was a visit to La Trinidad so that we could eat our lunch at a restaurant near the strawberry farm. And after eating, we were also given an hour to buy more souvenirs, and explore the area. Then continue our journey back to Manila.

Back at the restaurant, someone in our group actually made a surprise to me, and to tell you the truth, I was totally shocked by it. But uncomfortable? For my fellow travelers, maybe yes, but for me, I was not. However, what I truly felt during those unexpected moments was that sense of compassion and kindness for that person who was introduced to me. But what happened there was a test of my character, and how I’ve dealt with that unexpected encounter tells me more about who I really am, and what I could do to improve myself.

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As for my fellow joiners in this wonderful journey, I must say, I’ve already joined a number of joiners tour, and this group that I’ve been with during those four days of wandering were definitely one of the best ever.

Why? It is because all of us had really bonded that even during on our journey back home, we were still having a great time, and were even singing together as a group during those road trips. It’s like we don’t want the journey to end, but had to accept the fact that later on, we all have to say goodbye.

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A journey that I will never ever forget. Which made me so grateful to God for the following:

  1. For making our 14 hours road trip to Sagada a safer one. Especially when we were already two hours away for I had to be honest, I was somewhat scared at that time.
  2. Despite the coldness surrounding us, I’m glad for the beautiful and sunny weather during our stay there.
  3. Although there are more challenging caves to trek there in Sagada, but for those of us who’ve joined the trekking inside the Sumaging Cave, and for some of us who are an amateur cave trekker, I’m so grateful that we were all safe and physically strong to make it inside then back to the main entrance. Cause one mistake, and it could be fatal on our part. But the views inside there were totally worth it.
  4. I’m also thankful to all the locals that we’ve met. For showing us the real essence of giving importance of what is truly ours, and to appreciate the little things in life. They are so simple and humble in every way. And I’m sure they know how truly rich they are.
  5. For our journey back home, the 5 hours road trip from Sagada to Baguio was a very risky one especially when we were informed by Kuya Ron and Kuya Ryan that we will be crossing the Halsema Highway. But as mentioned by them, we should not be afraid, and just enjoy the stunning views outside. And before our journey, we really prayed for it, and thank God the weather was totally okay, and that our journey all the way to Baguio and Manila was a safer one.
  6. And lastly, I will never ever forget those people that I’ve met and joined during those few days of exploring in Sagada – Ate Marge, Tita Nora, Kuya Jan, Ate Tedi, Ate Jai, Nicole, Rizelle, Kuya Ryan, Kuya Salvador, the owners of the guesthouse, and Kuya Ron. Truly, I’m so beyond grateful to you guys, and I miss you all so much. Hope to keep in touch with you all every now and then. And also to meet you again during my visits to Manila. Moreover, because of you guys, I didn’t feel for one moment that I was on a solo trip, and that’s what made it so special. Hope we will have a group tour again.

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As I’ve already written from my previous blog, I cried so hard upon arrival back home, because the trip was so beautiful and special that I still can’t believe that it was finally over. Wherever I go, I will always remember those unforgettable times, and to hope and pray for the opportunity to visit Sagada again and again.

 

That’s it. I’ve finally finished writing the story of our adventure in Sagada.

By the way, I truly dedicate this blog of mine to all the people who’ve been part of this wonderful journey.

Again, MARAMING MARAMING SALAMAT!

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“Sagada is a quaint small town. But not the kind of place for the faint-hearted. And for those who’ve already been there, now I know what you really mean.” -Jassy

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

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

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

DAY 3: That Place Called Sagada: Chasing the Dawn and the Journey Back Home

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 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

DAY 3: That Place Called Sagada: Chasing the Dawn and the Journey Back Home

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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