28 Books that I would Recommend for Everyone.

For my annual birthday blog. I’m going to share with you the list of top 28 books that I’ve already read since I’ve started the 2017 Goodreads’ Reading Challenge.

Although I still haven’t finish yet in reaching this year’s goal of reading a total number of 68 books. But so far, I’m making a wonderful progress because I’m already a few more books away. Hopefully, in a few months, I’ll be able to accomplish it.

Well anyway these are the titles of novels that I would definitely recommend for you if you are looking for something new to read.

 

  1. Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch.

    Click to see my Book Review      

  2. Treasures by Lisa Jackson.

    img_3701“A riveting blend of mystery and romance makes Lisa Jackson’s navels irresistible. Now the bestselling author of Twice Kissed and Wishes brings sensuality and suspense to enthralling new heights as a woman seeking to discover her identity finds herself thrust into a world of hidden secrets and dangerous desires.” -Goodreads Summary

  3. The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais

    Click to see my Book Review

  4. First Star I See Tonight by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

    Goodreads Summary

  5. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

    “milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.” -Goodreads

  6. Where She Went by Gayle Forman

    Goodreads Summary

  7. Looking for Peyton Place by Barbara Delinksy

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    Goodreads Summary

  8. The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain

   “What a beautiful story and I’m so proud to say that I’ve read this one in just one sitting. “
Goodreads Summary

  1. When Calls the Heart by Janette Oke

    “Nothing in her cultured East Coast upbringing prepared Elizabeth for a teaching position on the Canadian frontier. Yet, despite the constant hardships, she loves the children in her care. Determined to do the best job she can and fighting to survive the harsh land, Elizabeth is surprised to find her heart softening towards a certain member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Book 1 of the bestselling Canadian West series.” -Goodreads

  2. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

    “This can happen to anyone.”

    It’s a brilliant story and would totally freak you out as a reader. For its a novel that was written in order to portray that something like that does happen in reality. And of course, what we might perceive about anyone on the outside is not as truthful or real on the inside.

Goodreads Summary

  1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

    Click to see my Book Review

  2. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

    Goodreads Summary

    “It’s surreal and insanely funny.”

    “Although, there were some things that were slightly exaggerated in the story. But this certain type of people called “Crazy Rich Asians” really do exist. And as a reader of the book, you might find it entirely fascinating to read about the extravagance on how these people lead their lives, but you’ll also learn an important lesson that money is definitely not everything. Sure it is our means to give us a comfortable life. But is it truly everything? Not really. Cause it is the little mundanes, the special moments that we have with our love ones that gives everything a whole new meaning. For love, happiness, kindness, our sense of contentment, and a whole lot more of positive things, are the ones that are priceless beyond measure that money can never provide us.”

  3. Wonder by R.J. Palacio

    “A heartwarming story about a disfigured child (who’ve just taken the first step into a normal childhood) and his parents’ unconditional love towards him; that despite on how the world views him physically on the outside, but to his mother and father, he will always be a special and extraordinary kid.

  4. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

    Goodreads Summary

“Well at first, you might find the personality of Eleanor Oliphant as somewhat hilarious, but once you’ll get to know her, you will realized that her story is entirely heartbreaking, and at the same time emotionally heartwarming. Moreover, every readers of the book would tend to feel a bit affected after reading it.”

  1. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

    img_3690“Every man’s island, Jean Louise, every man’s watchman, is his conscience.”

    The whole story of the sequel was entirely mind-boggling but full of profound truths about the realities that are happening in our society; especially when you’re also talking about the many different acts of DISCRIMINATION.

 

  1. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

    Click to see my Book Review

  2. First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

    Goodreads Summary

  3. Northern Lights by Nora Roberts

    Goodreads Summary

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  4. How to Find love in a bookshop by Veronica Henry

    Click to see my Book Review

  5. This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

    Goodreads Summary

  6. China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

    Goodreads Summary

  7. The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy

    Click to see my Book Review

  8. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

    Goodreads Summary

  9. The Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon

    Goodreads Summary

  10. The Mistletoe Secret by Richard Paul Evans

    Goodreads Summary

  11. The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

    Divided into five chapters and illustrated by Kaur, the sun and her flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming. A celebration of love in all its forms.

    this is the recipe of life
    said my mother
    as she held me in her arms as i wept
    think of those flowers you plant
    in the garden each year
    they will teach you
    that people too
    must wilt
    fall
    root
    rise
    in order to bloom

  12. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

    Goodreads Summary

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  1. The Love Detective by Alexandra Potter

    Click to see my Book Review

 

By the way, if you’re interested to purchase a copy in any of those titles that were listed above. You can buy it online with a FREE delivery worldwide at Book Depository.

Thank you so much for checking out my list and if you have any thoughts about my post, don’t hesitate to write it in the comments section.

HAPPY READING EVERYONE!

 

 

 

 

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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.

1

 

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

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

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

The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy (Book Review)

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A very unconventional memoir that was written by a journalist of The New Yorker named Ariel Levy. It’s a book that gives its readers a glimpse of who she is; her point of view, an insight about herself, her frustrations, opinions, ideas, and all the notions about her true self in this modern world. In which by the way makes this book quite refreshing and honest to read.

Although, I have no idea of who she is since I’ am a Filipino reader, and the only reason that I’ve decided to read this one was because I’ve been hearing such good reviews about her book especially from fellow Goodreads members, celebrities, and other famous public figures. So it was just all out of curiosity that made me chose this one in my reading list.

Then after getting unto her memoir, I was a bit surprised and slightly uncomfortable at first when I’ve already gotten to that part when it was revealed that she’s a diverse type of woman. But despite the fact of about her, I’m still glad that I chose to read this one. The reason is that I’ am quite fascinated by the author’s writing skills, for it was somewhat impeccable and affable to understand. Then I was also enamored by her being so truthful and bold for writing this one.

Well I’m not sure if she’s a feminist or what, but I truly admire her, because through her words, she was able to point it out into the world the things that she truly believes in. Furthermore, she is someone with her own principles in life. And one of my most favorite part in the book was when she was describing about it on how it feels like to be a millennial woman; shedding its readers some light on how a female tend to perceive things specifically during their 20’s and 30’s.

So now that I already know what the fuss was all about. I would most certainly say that this is a book that one should truly recommend to every fellow readers out there. A memoir that talks about being an unconventional woman in today’s modern society. An inspiration for every feminist.

But I have to remind you that as reader, you really need to be more open-minded before getting into a glimpse of Ms. Ariel Levy’s world. For there are certain issues that she had shared that you might find a bit sensitive especially for some people of different cultures and traditions.

It may seem to be that way, but this is a wonderful lesson to each and every one of us that we shouldn’t be too judgmental; but to be more kind, respectful, and understanding particularly to those who are in between in terms of their own struggles and sexuality, and you might think that they are different, but, they are also a human being who truly deserves such fair and just treatment in our society.

A sincere and real equality for all.

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And by the way, here are the following quotes that has intrigued me while reading the book:

“There is nothing I love more than traveling to a place where I know nobody, and where everything will be a surprise, and then writing about it. It’s like having a new lover—even the parts you aren’t crazy about have the crackling fascination of the unfamiliar.”

“Nature. Mother Nature. She is free to do whatever she chooses.”

“What does it mean to be a woman? What are the rules? What are your options and encumbrances? I wanted to tell stories that answered, or at least asked, those questions.”

“Character is who you are when nobody else is watching,”

“It is a still stranger thing that there is nothing so delightful in the world as telling stories.”

Well, that it’s for now.
Till my next book review.
Thank you so much for reading! 😊✌🏻

Unplugging During My Road Trips to the Beach

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“Disconnecting in order to reconnect.”

A realization that came over me during those short road trips to the beach.

The thing is I think it’s best to disconnect and unplugged from technology every now and then, because one of the most authentic moments happens when we really connect ourselves to those people around us. However, I’ am so NOT talking about connecting via social media, chatting, texting, or calling. It’s about spending quality time with them without being stuck into our gadgets. Just leave it somewhere, and capture the actual experience yourself.

Furthermore, when it comes to taking photos of every mundane things that are happening into our lives; no camera could ever really capture the beauty and wonder to all the things that are happening right in front of you. So be in the moment, and take it all in. Which is by the way, more special than any photo in our gadgets, or albums. For the unforgettable memories stored into our minds and hearts are the ones that we should truly treasure.

And lastly, this thing called “Technology” is there to help us ease our day to day living. But, it is not something that we should depend on especially when its slowly disconnecting us to what is REAL.

Thank you so much for reading! 🙂

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover (Book Review)

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GOODREADS SUMMARY:

When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

Hearts get infiltrated.
Promises get broken.
Rules get shattered.
Love gets ugly.

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MY BOOK REVIEW:

The whole intense love story of Miles and Tate just blew me away.
Cause from the first moment Ms.Colleen Hoover had made a post about her upcoming novel in all of her social media accounts, I just knew that I’m going to love this book, and according to her, of all the male characters that she has ever written, Miles Archer is the only one that made her so emotional that it truly made her cry while writing the novel.

However, it wasn’t actually in my plan to read it right away after it was published. But a few weeks after it was released, I’ve been seeing tons of top reviews about the book in Goodreads and in Facebook, stating that the story is just simply amazing. So it was a major influence for me to buy a copy. And as expected, it didn’t disappoint me at all. For it was so addictive to read.

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As for the story, it’s definitely your typical kind of love story. There’s this guy who is so emotionally shattered and damaged; who is so afraid of love because of his past. And then there’s this girl who could wake up him from his nightmare, and show him the beauty of falling in love all over again. But what I like about the story of Miles and Tate was their intense and passionate emotions (which were described in such detail in the novel).

So how would I describe it?

I would say that Colleen Hoover had truly given each character the source of their emotions, so that as a reader, we can truly understand as to why they seem to be that way. Like Tate Collins, she seems to be an extraordinary type of person- smart, beautiful, and kind. But when it comes to love, she just tends to feel that like she’s still looking for the biggest spark and momentous moment. Little did she know that on her first day into living temporarily in her brother’s apartment, her life will never be the same. As for Miles Archer, he’s someone who has a haunting past; a young pilot who’s been living a meaningless life for the past six years, and being entirely and only committed to his work like there’s no tomorrow; it’s like living a life without any substance at all. Then everything started to change when he’d finally met Tate. For she was the shining beacon of his life who never gave up on him, even though she already knows that in the long run it might either shatter her, or give her the thing that she truly desire.
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Moreover, Ms. Colleen Hoover did a marvelous job in writing such a passionate love story, because she made a typical story into something that is so unforgettable to all of its readers. And the song that was composed for this book is truly amazing. For it describes what Miles truly feels for Tate; a beautiful story for all the romantics out there.

That’s it for now, and till my next book review.

Thank you so much for reading. 🙂