June 29, 2010

Day Tour at Halong Bay

On our second day in Hanoi, we went to Halong City and had a day tour at Halong Bay. Since this trip to Hanoi was spontaneous, I didn't have time to research about the tours at Halong Bay. I ended up booking our day tour at the travel agency inside the Intercon Hotel. We paid $260 for the whole trip. EJ was free.

The package includes: a return trip from Hanoi to Halong City on a private car with an English speaking guide, 4-hour boat cruise on Halong Bay, lunch at the boat, passes and tickets in the port and in the cave.

The trip from Hanoi to Halong Bay takes about 3-4 hours. If you take a bus, it is usually longer than 4 hours because of the many stops.

We left the hotel at 8:30am and we arrived at Halong Bay at 12nn. We were the first passengers to board the boat. So we had to wait for the other Intercon Hotel guests to arrive before we could cruise.

According to our guide, there are about 600 or so junks (boats) cruising around Halong Bay.

At 12:45, we left the port and headed to a cave called Heavenly cave.

I overheard another guide telling his guests that this is the only cave which has AC. He was joking about the AC thing, but sure enough the cave was cold. We were still sweating profusely though because we had to climb up to the cave and hubby and I took turns carrying EJ.

When we went back to our junk, our lunch was waiting for us. We had shrimps, crabs, fish, squid, fried spring rolls, veggies, french fries and fruits for dessert.

We had lunch while cruising and enjoying the beautiful Halong Bay. It was perfect!

The tour was expensive. I had time to google today and found out that you could have the same trip for $150. If you DIY (take a bus from Hanoi to Halong Bay and back, rent a junk in Halong Bay) you'll probably spend about $50 or so only. But because we didn't have the luxury of time to research before hand and because we had a baby, okay, kid in tow, we chose comfort over price. But it was worth it. We were comfortable in the private car. The trip back to Hanoi was only 2 hours and 45 minutes (no stop). The lunch in the junk was great. And the junk was not crowded. It was a perfect day tour at Halong Bay.

Moving

It is going to be a busy weekend. We're moving on Saturday to another apartment.

We love our current apartment. We love its location, the furniture and the flat TV. The building has generator so even when the whole town has no power, we can still log in to our internet and keep us cool and fresh with AC. I love it that we do have a gym in the building (eventhough I haven't been up there for about 8 months now). However, we only have one bedroom. And with EJ's growing collection of toys, it's getting cramped in here.

We found another apartment inside a gated community. It's a little far from my usual hangouts, LOL!, but it's near hubby's office. It has 4 bedrooms and it's a nice place for EJ to meet other kids his age. In our current place, mostly it's single expats here.

So, yeah, it's time to pack again. I need to apply an internet connection and buy some deadbolt lock and boxes today.

Ahhh, the life of an expat. Constantly moving. That's not a complain though. I've gotten used to it and I love surprises.

June 28, 2010

R and R in Hanoi

This Hanoi trip was a spontaneous one. Two weeks ago, hubby mentioned that he's going to Hanoi for a business trip. He asked us to come with him but I declined because the ticket was expensive. And he was to stay there for 3 days only. But at the last minute, hubby was able to convince me to join him. But to make the trip worth it, I told him to extend our stay for one more day and go to Halong Bay.

Anyway, we stayed at Intercontinental Westlake Hanoi Hotel. As mentioned in my previous post, this is one of the nicest hotel we've stayed in.

The hotel is not in the city center. But it's not far from the city either, I think about 10-15 minutes car ride only. I like this hotel because it is quiet and the view at night is spectacular.

On our first night, we had dinner at their restaurant called Saigon.


Hubby ordered pork, I had the beef Pho, EJ had seafood fried rice and for dessert we shared the mango pudding with ice cream.

All delicious! EJ even finished his fried rice, which rarely happens.

On our second day, hubby went to his business meeting while EJ and I slept late and had breakfast/brunch in bed at 11am. Afterwards, EJ and I went to the mall. LOL! We were told Vincom City towers was their "best" shopping mall. I was excited and looking forward to my retail therapy, only to be disappointed. There was nothing to buy. The "best" shops there were Aldo and Nine West. So EJ and I just went around the mall and had something to eat at 3pm. EJ had fried rice again and I had fried noodles.

I wanted to visit another place but EJ was sleepy at 4pm. So we just went back to the hotel.

On our third day, we woke up early for our Halong Bay day tour. Left Hanoi City at 8:30am and came back in the hotel at around 7:30pm. It was tiring but worth it. For dinner, we headed straight to the hotel's buffet restaurant.


My first and second plate. No wonder I am heavier now than 4 days ago. LOL!

On our fourth and last day (half day) in Hanoi, we were supposed to go around the "must visit/see places" in the city. But we only made it to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. And we weren't even able to go inside.

Do you see the queue? This is only about 1/10th of it. There were sooooo many people who were lining up to go inside. So we decided to skip it and move to Hanoi Opera House. Guess what, the taxi driver that we got doesn't understand or speak english! After about an eternity inside the taxi, we just told him to bring us back to the hotel.

When we were in the hotel, EJ didn't want to go out again. I couldn't blame him. It was really hot and humid outside. So instead of touring the city, we just stayed in the room and watched TV. LOL!

At 12 noon we checked out and went to airport.

It was a short trip and we could have done more. But I have no regrets. The trip to Halong Bay was more than enough. And I did get my much needed rest in Hanoi.

June 25, 2010

In Hanoi

We're here in Hanoi, Vietnam. We arrived here yesterday late afternoon via a three-hour plane ride (with a short stop over in Vientiane, Laos) from Phnom Penh.

We're staying at Intercontinental Hanoi Westlake Hotel.


It's one of the nicest hotel I've stayed in.



Tired but happy


We haven't explored the city yet. We'll do that today. And tomorrow we'll go to Halong Bay!

Stories and pictures when I get home =)

June 23, 2010

Dad's are the Best

Last Father's Day, hubby chose to celebrate at home. I would have loved to go outside so I don't have to deal with cooking but since it's his day I have no choice but to oblige. LOL!

So here's what I prepared for him.

Prawns in butter and garlic

Steamed crabs

Stir fried squid with red pepper

For a fraction of what we usually spend in restaurants, we had the best meal that day. Ma-cholesterol nga lang. Hahaha!!!

Belated happy father's day to all the dad's in the world. And to my hubby, thanks for being a wonderful dad to our son. I couldn't ask for more. We love you heaps!

From Me to You

I admire and envy my two older brothers who are doing well with their respective business.

Me? I wanted to go into business a long time ago. I just couldn't find the right one. Sure, we have some investments here and there but I wanted something concrete, a "real" business.

I contemplated about franchising and wondered which is the best franchise to own in the Philippines. Nothing major of course. But I couldn't find one to my liking.

My brothers told me to find something I like doing or is passionate about and turn it into business. I thought of bags, food, coffee, travel and clothes.

Problem was, whenever I start thinking of the cost, I always immediately think of excuses not to go through with any plans I have.

Until recently.

I guess if you realize what you are passionate about, it's easy to make it work and turn it into a business. I am not saying my jewelry business is already a success but it is a start. I love it and I love making jewelries.

So, what are you passionate about? Maybe you could turn it into a business!

June 19, 2010

Kids and Sports

The whole world is probably tuned in to football/soccer right now. Some might even have their very own personalized footballs, but in our household, tennis will always be a favorite sports.

We might have been watching too many tennis games because one night this week, EJ found a string. He said, "Daddy, please tie this around my head. This is how tennis players look like."

While hubby was tying the string around EJ's head I went to get my handy camera.

He looks adorable, doesn't he? Spoken a like a true mom. LOL!

June 17, 2010

Funny EJ

EJ being funny. He went to his daddy who was sleeping.

He smelled his daddy's feet and pretended to wrinkle his nose and said "Yuck, it's baho Mom!" LOL!

It's holiday here tomorrow so that means we have a long weekend here in Cambodia. Just what I need.

June 14, 2010

Josiet Accessories is Finally on Display

One happy camper here.

Last Saturday, Josiet Accessories has finally been displayed at Oro Rosso.

This is the reason I was so busy last week. I had to make more jewelries, design the display and look for the materials needed. I was so stressed and I had anxiety attacks everyday. LOL!

I just hope people will like my pieces.

June 12, 2010

Puzzles

In spite of our busy schedules these past couple of weeks, hubby and I still find time to bond. How? By doing this puzzle. LOL!


This was supposed to be for EJ. But it's just too much and too many puzzles for EJ so he abandoned it. Hubby and I took over.

Would you believe we finished the puzzle after 4 nights? That long. Hahahaha!! It was a bit difficult, actually. But still we loved doing it and we're planning to buy more.

Lunch with Friends at Lemongrass

My friends and I had lunch at Lemongrass, a Thai resto, a couple of weeks ago. Or was it a month ago? Hahaha, I've completely forgotten this.

The company, as usual was great. The food not so.

My lovely friends, Lui and Zarah. Lui, you look like a teenager here =)

Me and Ate Elma. Look, how big my face is. Grrrrr...LOL!

Salad with pork. This was good. Spicy and hot but just right.

I like my green curry to be creamy and not soupy...

Fried chicken in pandan leaves (I think, hahaha!) The chicken was a bit dry and hard. But it tasted good.

The famous Pad Thai. It was okay.

The thing that really disappointed us was their rice. It was hard. It tasted like it was cooked the previous day.

But that's okay. I don't think I am going back there anyway.

EJ in School

Been really busy this week. EJ's on a summer break. He goes to an art school twice a week in the afternoon but the rest of the week he's just home. Meaning, I've got my hands full. On top of that, I had to make more jewelries in time for my display at Oro Rosso shop, which is happening today. Will blog about that later.

Anyway, here are my favorite pictures of EJ in school. The teachers always take their photos every school term. These were taken during term 4, just before the school year ends. These are all scanned copies only.

I love his expression here.

He loves to ride a bike!

He loves trains as well. He looks very cute here, doesn't he?

Yoga time in school!

With his bestfriends: Miro and Osuke.

EJ will still go to The Giving Tree next school year. We like this school because it's near our place, the teachers are nice, their school furniture are always new at the start of the year. LOL!

EJ is moving on to Owl next school year. We're so excited!