Another Random Road Trip to Tagaytay

I've been to Tagaytay more than a few times already, some with them with friends, some with family, most of them random..

My trip to Tagaytay  with my posh friends started at 5:30 in the morning. Excited? Haha. Jamie and I met up with JE at UP Engineering Building. From there, we just took one car, JE's car, and hit the road along Edsa to fetch Ivanz. Ivanz was thoughtful enough to buy waffles, but not enough for all of us. Haha. He just bought 3, so JE and I had to share one.

So off we went to Tagaytay, taking the SLEX route. Our first destination was to eat breakfast. We looked for a place, and randomly found Bag of Beans. JE had a hard time remembering the name, thinking like it  was bean bag and bag of bones. Hahaha. We didn't know that it was famous place there in Tagaytay. We were just enticed that the place looks nice and we were starving already, so we didn't want to be choosy. The place is posh, the ambiance was great with it's antique and rusty feel. A perfect way to start our trip. Continue reading here.

Bag of Beans


Surviving Pakistan

Ok, so my travel to Pakistan doesn't really fall into the category of posh but cheap travel, but still it's something worth blogging about. Never in a million years did I imagine going to Pakistan. As open as I am to travel every corner of the world, I have never dreamt of going there. With all the things that had just recently happened there, and still happening right now;  I don't think any traveler would want to visit that place.

So how did I end up there? Well, I had no choice. My company assigned me to handle the Middle East process, and was assigned to go there to have face-to-face engagements with the stakeholders. First thing that came to my mind when I got the email that I would go there is "I'm scurred"(scared hahaha). My office mates were very supportive, saying comforting words such as "we don't need your pasalubongs, we just need you to come back in one piece". Even one of the bosses joke me to bring an Armalite and wear a bullet-proof vest, how comforting hahaha.

Since we are allowed to plan out our itinerary ourselves, I had to take the opportunity to ride one of the best airlines, the Emirates Airlines. Since my flight would take longer than 2 hours, company policy dictates that we book business class for safety and health reasons. Woohoo! Business class for the first time, and it would be in Emirates. Sweet. I booked my accommodation in Sheraton Hotel which is one of the best hotels there.

My flight consisted of about 10 hours, 8 hours to Dubai, and another 2 hours going to Karachi.  I left Manila Saturday evening. I had a little episode with the Immigration officer since he was asking me about my purpose there. I told him that I would be there for business, so he asked my company ID. The thing is, our company ID is not exactly an official ID since it only has our name and photo, without any company logo whatsoever. It's more like a smart card to be used in our computer. So I showed him my invitation letter from the company, which is out of date since my visit was moved to a later date, and the date indicated in the letter was the original date.  I explained to him that the original date was postponed and I was not able to obtain an updated letter. Anyway, he did let me go afterwards. I guess he was just concerned of what a kid-looking girl like me would do there. I wanted to tell him if I have a choice, I wouldn't go there. Haha. So I was able to pass the immigration, and now I would have just to wait for my boarding.

It was very comfortable as it can get in the business class. The seats can be reclined as much as a bed, and everything was very spacious.  Each has its own screen where one could watch series and movies. The flight attendants address our every needs. So after about 8 hours of flying, we finally came to Dubai. I am really excited to check out the Dubai Airport since it's one of the best airports in the world. The Dubai Airport is huge, with its own mini shopping mall inside. Every thing is state of the art and modern. I checked out some of the shops so I would be familiar with it when I came back there on my return flight since I'm planning to go shopping then.

After about a 3-hour stopover in Dubai, it was time for me to fly to Karachi, Pakistan. I was still flying with Emirates. Their business class is not as beautiful as my first flight, but I guess this is because the flight is only for 2 hours. Finally, at almost 12 noon on Sunday, I arrived at Karachi Airport. The Karachi Airport is more like the Manila Airport, it's not so modern and not so big. 

There's a 3 hour difference between Karachi and Manila. Upon my arrival at the airport, a protocol officer from my company was waiting for me. I wasn't expecting someone would be waiting and assisting me, but I was quite relief that someone was there to accompany me with the immigration officer. I actually arranged with Sheraton hotel to send someone to pick me up but turns out I have a company driver to pick me up.

So I rode with the company driver to my hotel. Karachi is much like Manila, not Makati, but Manila; with the busy dusty streets swarming with people. After about 20 minute ride, we finally arrived at Sheraton Hotel. The security was very tight, I actually got a little bit scared of their guards. They are like hardcore Middle Eastern looking, with the mustache and all, wearing bullet-proof vest and long Armalite rifles. After checking in at the concierge, I was brought to my room. My room is beautiful; it has queen size bed, a table and computer chair to work on, a television with cable, and a bathroom with a bathtub. The only downside of it is the balcony area is covered with net. I'm not sure if it's for security purpose, or just to keep away the big black birds that loom around the sky. I asked my driver what type of birds they are, and he said they're falcons. Well, to me they look like black crows, and they really creep me out. Continue reading here.

My Sheraton Hotel Room

Hong Kong City and Macau Tour

Our third day in Hong Kong finally turned out as planned. We had our city tour in the morning, then headed out to Macau in the afternoon.

Our first destination was the Avenue of Stars, which is like Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Since we already had gone through there on our first day, we didn't explore much. Continue reading here.
Avenue of Stars Hong Kong

Feeling like a Child again in Hong Kong Disneyland

We woke up early on our 2nd day at Hong Kong. We had breakfast again at Mcdonald's since it was the free breakfast included in our package. After breakfast, we met up with our travel agent again to transfer to our new hotel. We took the bus again for about 15 minutes or so. From the bus stop, our hotel is just a couple of blocks away. Our new hotel was the Dorsett Sea View Hotel which is way way better than Chungking House It was like a 3-star hotel, I think. We had 3 rooms, each with its own 2 beds, cable TV, air-conditioning and bathroom. 

Dorsett Sea View Hotel Hong Kong

We all thought that everything will go smooth on that day, but even before we can start on with our tour, we had to encounter another bump In the road. Our tour guide to Hong Kong Disneyland didn't arrive on the time we were expecting them , so my sister got pissed off at our travel agent again. Our travel agent called up the local tour guide and turns out the bus that was supposed to fetch us got filled up because there were some unexpected guests. Of course, my sister got mad again since it's quite annoying that they accommodated the unexpected guests first rather than us.

After an hour or so of waiting, our tour guide finally came. He just brought a van with him since it would only be us. It took us more or less 20 minutes to get to Hong Kong Disneyland, and he gave us our tickets and instructions on how we would be going back. Finally, we can enjoy this day.
I was really excited to go to Hong Kong Disneyland, since I've never been to any Disneyland. Even though I'm already 20-something, I am a kid at heart, not to mention I also look like a kid.  It was actually a Halloween special so there were Halloween inspired displays and almost all the kids are in Halloween costumes. They were all so cute! Continue reading here.
Hong Kong Disneyland Entrance

A Disastrous First Day in Hong Kong

I went to Hong Kong with my family October of last year. Our first day turned out to be a disaster as our travel agency was not able to book the hotel for us. Our travel agency was Discover Asia International Travel and Tours which was referred to me by Jamie which was referred to her by her office mate. Hehe. Since it was referred to me by Jamie’s office mate and they said they provided good service, I trusted her referral and gave their name to my sister. She was the one who booked our itinerary to them.
On the day before our departure, our travel agent still hasn’t provided us our travel voucher which we would have to present to our hotel. On the day of our departure, our travel agent came to the airport telling us that he hasn’t booked a hotel for us as he said there was a problem with the payment transfer and he would come with us to find a hotel for us.
My sister was really angry but we had no choice since it was already our traveling date. According to our travel agent, there was a delay in the payment transfer since my sister paid in check. Anyway, we departed from Manila at around 5 in the morning riding the Cebu Pacific Airlines. We arrived there at around half-past seven and turns out it was actually their winter season. It was so freaking cold and I was wearing a skirt. We didn’t know that it was their winter already and I only brought light clothes and 2 pairs of pants. Hahaha.
So we still have no place to stay yet, and so we don’t have a vehicle waiting for us in the airport to transfer us to our hotel, so we took the bus going to the center of the city. This trip ain’t looking too good. Our travel agent asked us to stay at Mcdonald's at the moment and he would find a hotel for us. My sister told him that she and my brother would come with him and he should hand his passport to him. Better be safe and secure that he won’t be able to just leave us there waiting for him. Continue reading here.
Breakfast at Hong Kong Mcdonald's

Last Sembreak at Anawangin Zambales

Ok, so this is really a very late post, because this happened like 3 or 4 years ago, the last sembreak before graduating from College. We had this trip for my organization’s planning session for the coming semester. We went to Anawangin at San Antonio, Zambales via NLEX route then SCTEX to Subic. It was cool since it was my first time passing through SCTEX. The roads were built cutting through the mountains so you could really see the mountains on both side of the road. The roads are really smooth and the scenery is so beautiful. Continue reading here.



Pahiyas FTW!

Another random trip with my 'posh' barkada.  JE texted me Wednesday night to ask if I was doing  anything on the weekend. I said that I have a plan to go to Baguio with my high school friends, but I wasn’t sure if we would push through.  I asked him what was the plan, and he ask me if I want to go to the Pahiyas Festival that weekend, since his original companion can't come anymore. I said that I would confirm if we would push through with Baguio, and if not, I'm game on Pahiyas. So by Friday night, Jamie confirm with me if I still have plans, and since we didn't push through with going to Baguio, I said I'm game!

So we decided to meet up in Glorietta on Saturday afternoon.  JE wearing another of his epic fail outfit, jersey with "Cheesy" on the front, board shorts and Sandugo slippers. We were teasing him that he looks like our driver and he should walk in front of us. Ivanz on the other hand, was on emo mode again and was venting that we replaced him in the group with George when we went to Vietnam. I said that he was actually the one who left the group because we did invite him to Vietnam, and he was actually the one who went travelling with other people when he went to Sagada. But anyway, we were really just joking around about it and was not really a big deal.

Since Jamie and Ivanz were hungry, we decided to eat first at Mom and Tina's along dela Rosa in Makati. JE and I just had cakes since we were not  yet hungry, while Jamie and Ivanz had full meal. It was Ivanz's treat since he has a lot of money now that he's working in P&G. After eating, we headed with our trip to go to Lucban, Quezon. We asked JE if he knows the way, since we thought he already had gone there last year.  Turns out, he wasn't able to go last year so none of us really knows exactly how to get there. Hahaha. The perks of being random. Good thing JE has an Iphone so he just used the map to get there. We told JE that he's on his own on how to get there, and we would actually believe him if he suddenly stops to a place and tell us that that is Pahiyas already. Hahaha. We told him that we have low expectations and we just want to see houses embellished with decorations made of rice since that was what Ivanz and I saw when we googled Pahiyas.

So we embarked on our five hour road trip to Lucban, Quezon. To get ourselves entertained, we played the different games in Ivanz's Iphone. One of the games we played was the 'Stupid' game which is really a stupid IQ test. One of the questions was Tap Anywhere. Ivanz's got stuck answering that question that he even googled it. Google failed him for the first time and he wasn't able to find the answer. Turns out the answer was just to tap the word 'anywhere' which was discovered by Jamie. Ivanz mentioned that he just recently learned the meaning of FTW which is for the win, and thought it was like WTF which is what the f@#k?! Hahaha.

By around 9 we tried looking for a place to eat again since JE and I haven't had dinner yet. We pointed at different places to eat but JE was not actually stopping so we ended up eating at Jollibee.  After eating, we headed out to the road again.  In one of the towns before Lucban, we saw that their houses were decorated as well. Looks like they are also having their own festival.  So we tried looking for a place to stay, but we decided to find a place in Lucban or closest to Lucban.  We tried the Inn in the entrance of Lucban, but  they said it was fully booked. Kuya told us that all the inns, resorts and hotels in the area are already fully booked and we should try to look in Lucena, which is already the next town.

We tried to look more in the town proper, but we only found houses and people walking in the streets. We notice that only a few houses are decorated, are they cramming as well? Hahaha. Since there was no choice, we decided to just sleep in the car. So JE parked his car along the main road, and we tried to sleep. We asked Ivanz to go out of the streets and ask if there maybe somewhere we could stay in. Surprisingly, he agreed. So he went out and after a few minutes he came back. He doesn't have any good news anyway, as he didn't find any place where we could stay. He said that the building in front of us is actually a dormitory, but a bus already occupied all of the rooms. So we tried sleeping in the car again it was too hot, and we can't fully open the window as it may be dangerous.

We told JE to go back a few blocks down and went back to the resort that we saw on our way. It was Batis Aramin. We asked the guard if there was still a vacant room, but he said there was none. We asked if we could just park inside and we'll just pay the entrance fee. He said that we should ask the management so he let us in. We talked to the receptionist and she said that there was actually a vacant cottage. But the cottage was actually a nipa hut made of wood. We decided not to rent the cottage since it's hard and it might be harder to sleep in there. So we just paid the entrance fee so we could park inside and use their common rest rooms.

Jamie, Ivanz and I didn’t immediately sleep. We talked about Ivanz's  emo mode and the blackholes of the trip: Purita girl, Potato Wedge girl and the favorite blackhole of Ivanz. By around 4:30 am, we decided to go to sleep. We were actually planning to go for a swim before we take our baths, but no one woke up early. We woke up at around 7am and took our baths in their shower area. It was actually stressful to take a bath because it was not really clean and the shower was not really  working and we had to use pail and dipper.

So after we were all prepared, we went back to the town proper. JE parked along the main road again and we just rode a tricycle going to the town proper. We ate breakfast at one of the carinderias and we ate their famous pansit habhab and cassava cake. The food was really cheap and the pansit just costs P10 each. So after filling our stomachs, we headed out to the town proper to see the different decorated houses. The houses were really pretty with decorations made of rice kiping and vegetables.  Continue reading here.

Cassava Cake


Pagudpud: The Best Way to End my College Life

Pagudpud, found in Ilocos Norte, is one of the most beautiful beach destinations I have ever gone to for the time being. It’s fast gaining popularity to both local and foreign tourists, and being considered as the Boracay of the North. I visited Pagudpud a couple of years ago, after our College graduation. It was our last vacation before immersing ourselves into the ‘real’ world, and getting by on our own.

My college friends and I went to Pagudpud a couple of years back. It was the first of the many summer getaways we will have (hopefully) and I was of course the organizer of the trip. Our trip almost got canceled because there was an incoming typhoon, but at the last minute we decided to go ahead with the trip since everything was  already planned out.

We left Manila on a Tuesday night, riding Florida bus going to Pagudpud. If I remember correctly, the bus ticket costs about P600. Their bus station is somewhere in Dapitan, Manila and scheduled departure is usually at 9pm. We were all expecting that the bus ride would only take 8-10 hours, but it actually took 12 hours before we were able to reach our destination. It might be just an exception, as it was already raining, and there were a lot of road construction here and there. Next time I would go back there, I recommend just taking a plane. But if you are traveling on a limited budget, and you want to hear Ilocano songs, then riding Florida bus is the best way to go.

So finally, at around 10 am, we arrived at the town proper of Pagudpud. From there, we rode tricycles to get to our resort, which is the Polaris Resort.  The tricycle drivers were already familiar of the different resorts in Pagudpud so it was not really a problem finding Polaris Resort. The tricycle fare is just P50 per way (take note: not per person).  When we arrived at our resort, it was so obvious that we were so purita (poor). Being still dependents to our parents for money, we were really traveling on a tight budget. We even counted each of our contribution in front of the cashier.  The Polaris Resort is one of most affordable resort in Pagudpud. Our room good for 6 only costs P3500  per night, and they even allowed 8 of us to stay without additional costs. The resort is much laid back, and like a big nipa hut style.  The rooms were clean, with its own bathroom and air conditioning. The only setback in Polaris is the food they offer in their restaurant is a little bit expensive. If you want cheaper prices, but still offer the same delicious food, I recommend C-jam's Eatery which is just outside the resort. The ambiance may not be that high-class, but they offer delicious home cooked meals at very affordable rates. Continue reading here.

Saud Beach, Pagudpud


Laiya, Batangas: A Quick Escape from the Hustles and Bustles of the City

Since it’s already summertime, and I haven’t been to the beach yet (what a loser?!), I decided to just write about one of my most visited beach here in the Philippines, Laiya, Batangas. I’ve been there so many times, both with my family and friends, that I’ve lost count already. The Laiya beach is one of favorite beach destination for city dwellers since it’s just a 3-4 hour drive from Manila. The beach is beautiful as well, with grayish white sand and colorful underwater ecosystem. Don’t get your expectations too high and compare it to Boracay or Palawan, but it’s still decent to say the least. The resorts and accommodations are quite affordable as well, so it suits both family and barkadas goers.

Just last year, I’ve been there twice, one with my family, and one with my college friends. As always, I ended up arranging our itinerary and accommodations again. My college friends and I visited Laiya, Batangas May of last year, if I’m not mistaken. Planning this trip is one of the most frustrating trips I’ve ever organized. We really wanted to visit Caramoan that year, but since JC and Mae don’t have leaves yet in their work, they can’t have a vacation other than their weekends. So our only option was to find a destination near Manila. What was more frustrating is that my friends were not replying at all to my messages to get this trip planned out. I reached a breaking point, and decided not to plan the trip entirely, and let them do the planning if they still want to have a summer escapade. Summer was about to end that time, and almost all the hotels and resorts in Laiya were fully booked. My threat did seem to work, and our trip did happen, although some of the boys backed out, and it was only Ralph who was the only guy left.  the  I looked for several hotels and resorts in Laiya, including Kabayan, Sabangan and Casa Remo Apartelle. We ended up staying in Casa Remo Apartelle where they have a vacant room on the date we scheduled our trip.

Since only Jamie knows how to drive, but her dad won't allow her to drive out-of-town, we ended up riding a bus. We caught a bus of Jam Liner  in Cubao at around 6 in the morning. After about 3 or 4 hours, we arrived at the town proper where we rode a jeepney to get to the beach itself. The Casa Remo Apartelle is along the main road, so we were able to get there directly from our jeepney ride. It's not on the beach front, but at the price of P5K for 8 persons, we didn’t mind.  We arrived at around lunch hour at Casa Remo Apartelle but since we can only check in at 2pm, we decided to look for a place to eat.  We checked out the restaurant the nearby Kabayan resort, but the food didn’t look so appetizing and the prices were not really worth it. We saw a carinderia on our way to our resort, so we decided to check that out instead. The manang was really friendly and accommodating, and her home cooked meals looked delicious so we decided to eat there. Continue reading here.


Night Life and Chilling at the Beach of Mui Ne Vietnam

After a tiring but awesome tour of the sand dunes and other spots in Mui Ne town, we headed back to our cheap guesthouse Mai Am. We were all so dirty from our tour, our bodies were covered with sand, and even our ears were filled with sand. As we promised that we will have to experience the night life in Vietnam, we immediately took our turns taking a bath before we head out again. I took so long taking a bath as I didn’t realize how much sand has stuck in my body. After a much needed bath, we headed out again for dinner and drinking.
We decided to eat at the Crepes and Ice Cream restaurant, which JE and I earlier saw on our way to the tour. We remembered it distinctly because  the place looks posh, with couches and everything. It was located on the high-end part of the beach, which is like the Station 1 of Boracay. We thought it was just close enough for us to walk, but we ended up walking 4km! Another physical activity. Hahaha. Finally, after a long exhausting walk, we finally found Gecko Crepes and Ice Cream. In fairness, our efforts paid off and the place was really worth it. Really, the extent we go through, just to be posh. Since it was our first full meal of the day again, we ordered immediately what we have been craving for. George and I ordered some burger and fries, which of course reminded us of Potato Wedge Gurl ( refer to Seeing the Light at the End of the Tunnel to understand). Of course, we also ordered some crepes and waffles for dessert. But they served the crepes and waffles first, so we started with dessert because we were really hungry. After filling our stomachs, we headed out to the stores to check if they have Vietnamese shirts for souvenir, and the athletic outlets that we were looking for, but we still didn’t find what we were looking for. Continue reading here.

Gecko Crepes and Ice Cream


Discovering Great Sand Dunes at Mui Ne Vietnam

On our second day in Vietnam, I was woken up by the loud ring of JE's cell phone at around 4:30 am. I tried sleeping again, but my attempt failed despite counting thousands of sheep. By 6:00 am, I gave up trying to sleep, and decided to take a bath already as we have to catch our 7:30 am bus going to Mui Ne Beach. By 7am, we ate our breakfast consisting of the same Our Daily Bread, strawberry jam/margarine and coffee. While eating our breakfast, I noticed JE's thin shirt layered with a very awful vest. I asked him what in the world is he wearing. I said I'll claim I don't know him because I don't want to be seen with him wearing that. He looks like a photographer, or our local environmentalist celebrity, Kuya Kim.  The only thing missing is him hanging his camera on his neck. In spite of my nasty remarks, JE didn’t care and still wore his vest. Hahaha. To make things worse, he actually wanted a scarf to go with his outfit. After eating, I arranged the payment for our room and checked out from our cheap Vietnam hotel, Madam Cuc. Even the Caucasians who were having breakfast are staring at me. They’re probably thinking ‘Who the heck is this kid, traveling without a companion?’ Hahaha.

After breakfast and checking out from our cheap Vietnam hotel Madam Cuc, we headed to Sinh Tour’s office again. The trip from Ho Chi Minh to Mui Ne took about 5 hours. It would have taken a lot shorter if the bus was going faster, but I heard the conductor chatting with one of the passengers that the bus usually runs at 50kph. I noticed that the bus indeed was running slow, maybe slower than 50kph at times. The roads and scenery are quite similar to Manila and the provinces of the Philippines. We named some of the roads looking quite similar to those in Manila, such as Roxas Blvd. and the C5 tunnel going to Eastwood. Small houses and rice fields line both sides of the roads. The only noticeable thing is the way they plant the rubber trees. They are all lined up straight, with ribbons and cuts on the trunks.

At 12:29 in the afternoon, I noticed that the bus was suddenly running faster. Seems the driver is trying to reach the terminal by 12:30, the supposedly exact time of our arrival. In fairness, we were able to arrive at 12:31 pm. Hahaha. After just a 3-minute walk, we were able to find our cheap guesthouse, Mai Am. It was better than what I was expecting. Once you enter, you will be immediately welcomed by their mini garden for Buddha. Then at the back of it is the reception and restaurant. Then some huts for dining also. At the beach front are some summer chairs and umbrellas. We have reserved 2 double rooms, each with its own air con, TV and bathroom. The guesthouse is more posh and newer compared to Madam Cuc. After presenting our booking confirmation to the reception guy, he told us “At 1:00, you’ll have your tour at Cham Tower.” What?? We haven’t eaten our lunch yet. I answered, “No time for lunch”. And he replied back, “No!” Huhuhu. Are we not allowed to eat a complete meal here in Vietnam? So we checked our rooms, and left our stuff there. Before leaving, I tried asking the receptionist again if we could maybe order some food in their restaurant, and bring it with us in our tour. Good thing he allowed us to have a quick meal in their restaurant. So we ordered something that could be cooked quickly, Our Daily bread, with some tomato omelet. Continue reading here.

Bread with Tomato Omelet


Crossing the Crazy Streets of Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam

So after the half-day Cu Chi Tunnel tour, we found ourselves back in Ho Chi Minh City. It was already two in the afternoon, but we haven't eaten our lunch. We were so hungry, that it didn't matter where we eat, we just wanted food!! The first place we saw was the Nguyen Café, and we were just happy to see a place to eat. When we checked their menu, we were glad that they offer rice meals. But no, the waiter said that they only offer those during lunch time, and it's already past lunch time. Huhuhu. So we ended up just ordering shakes and cakes. While we were chilling and resting at the café, we noticed that most of the other people were looking at us. Why? Do we look funny? I guess they are just curious as we truly look like tourists, with our cameras hanging at our necks, and carrying bags of souvenirs. What's more odd I think for them, is because we're Asians, and most of the tourists they see are Caucasians from Europe. Continue reading here.

Strawberry and Chocolate Milk Shake

Seeing the Light at the end of Cu Chi Tunnel

After so much planning and thinking of every detail of our trip, at last the day of our departure has finally arrived. Our flight to Vietnam was last February 18, which was a Friday night, a week after my birthday. I took a half-day leave from work, and met up with Jamie and George at Mcdonalds at around half past seven. They already finished their dinner, so I decided to just eat in the airport. We waited for JE to arrive, and off we went looking for a cab going to the airport.

It was a Friday night, employees are rushing to get off work to meet up with friends in malls and bars to hang out and blow off some steam. As expected, all the cabs were taken. We wander through the busy streets of Makati, hoping to catch a cab for hire. I even tried calling different cab providers that I know, but end up with no luck. JE and Jamie were starting to get stressed finding a cab, but me and George remained calm and relaxed. "Itay" ,(father in Filipino) as I would call George, and I actually found it funny that they were stressed-out, while we remained calm and chilling, like walking in a park. Finally, after about an hour of walking, we ended up in Greenbelt, and were able to find a cab there.  It was a dilapidated and old cab, but we didn't have a choice. The driver was even making an excuse that he can't take us, he said he has a flat tire, but turns out he just wants an extra pay for our fare. He was asking us to pay him P250, and we were more than willing to give him more. And so,  we took our seats inside the cab, JE taking the passenger seat in front. Manong driver started interviewing us, and shooting some questions. I don't know why we lied, but we said we were going to Cebu. I guess it's for security purpose that we didn't want to disclose where we were going to a complete stranger. But our lie fired back to us, Manong driver was actually from Cebu. So he started to narrate his personal story and even gave us some peculiar warnings. He warned us not to eat the food in the streets as we might be poisoned. He said that there are many witches there, and they might put a curse on our food. He even told us that he himself knows witchcraft and he can put a curse on us, even by just staring at us. What the heck?? So freakin' creepy!!! I was sitting backseat between Jamie and Itay, and when he looks at his rearview mirror, he can see me directly. I didn't want to look at the mirror as he might catch a glance of me and curse me! He narrated that he once helped a friend who was cursed because of eating at the streets, and was poisoned. He healed him by giving him grated coconut and sugar, and it worked. His friend's family was very thankful to him, and he was welcome to his friend's house. He added that he fell in love with his friend's sister, but she didn’t love him back. He said he could a put a curse on her, but he decided not to, because he truly loves her. He said that he can also put a curse using the hair of the person, the usual voodoo stuff . All of us thinking freaking out in our minds, 'Did my hair fall off? I can't leave a single strand of hair inside this cab!' The only good thing coming out of the driver's mouth is when he noticed that JE has a 'malapad na noo' (wide forehead). For us Filipinos, that's a sign of being intelligent. He commented that JE looks like someone who's smart and knows a lot of this. This is partly true, since we all studied in UP, but ironic as well as JE flunked some of his subjects and got delayed. It was funny for us that the driver would comment that.

At last, after 30 minutes or less of that creepy cab drive, we finally reached the airport.  We checked in our bags, and got our boarding pass. When we got to the immigration,  itay got hold up for a bit, since he was carrying a Canadian passport, and he had some additional travel documents. The immigration officer laughed when she saw the picture on his documents. It was a picture of him when he was still a kid, and he was still fat and was just wearing a sando. Looking at it, we couldn't really decide if he was a cute kid or an ugly kid. Lol. He looks like he was hungry in his pic, and he was not in the mood.  Having finished checking in, we have time to kill before boarding. JE and I haven't eaten dinner yet, so we decided to eat first.  Almost all the restaurants were closed, so we ended up eating in Seattle's Best. While eating, Jamie whispered to me that the she heard the girl sitting beside our table telling her boyfriend, " Oh my god, I’m so full. I had like 3 potato wedges for lunch.”  WTF?? How big is that freaking potato?  To think that it was already 10pm that time, and her last meal was lunch.  From then on, we can’t help but talk about her throughout the whole trip. We call her the potato wedge gurl, and was considered the "black hole" of the trip. Black hole is a term we just coined ourselves, it usually refers to the person we can’t stop talking about throughout a trip, usually dishing that person. Hahaha. We can really be mean and nasty.

At 12:30am local time, we landed at Ho Chi Minh. After 10 years, I’m back in Ho Chi Minh again. In fairness, their airport is much newer now and less crazy. We decided to convert some of our dollars to their local currency Dong, 1USD=20000 VND. We are filthy rich here!  We saw the driver who would take us to Madam Cuc. Jamie commenting “ Paminsan kelangan mo na lang talagang magtiwala sa mga tao noh?” *Sometimes, you just have to trust a person, whether you like it or not* Hahaha. Come to think of it, that's really true. We don't have a choice but to trust that person and bring us to our hotel in the wee hours of the night.  Ho Chi Minh is very much like Manila, their streets are like the streets of Dapitan or Tondo, with thick electrical wires lining the streets, and small establishments with steel gates. And I quote Itay's Canadian cousin, " Why are you going there? It’s so ghetto” Hahaha.

So the driver stopped in front of an old building with steel gate, which is closed. Are we here?? Yes, it seems we have arrived in our cheap Vietnam hotel, Madam Cuc.  He rang the bell, and a lady in her pajamas opened the gate. She asked us to remove our shoes, as our room is on the 2nd floor. But we asked her if we could just walk barefoot and just bring our shoes with us in our room, which she let us. The lady asked for our passport, which at first we couldn't understand what she was saying. Of course we were hesitant to give it to her. She said that we could get it anytime we want, and so we agreed to give it to her and we'll just get in the morning. So it's now time for bed as we need to wake up early after a few hours for our Cu Chi Tunnel tour. The room was ok, it was spacious, with 2 large beds, a flat TV, air con and ref. The bathroom was clean, with bath tub and hot shower. Not bad for such a cheap hotel. Time for bed..

We woke up at 6am, that's 7am Manila time. We each took our turns taking a bath, then went downstairs for breakfast. Breakfast consists of bread, strawberry jam/margarine and their yummy coffee. The bread is like the French bread, but the outside is chewy and the inside was really airy. We called it Our Daily Bread. After which, I asked for directions from one of the reception ladies on how to get to the Sinh Tour office. Good thing she gave us a map, that would become very handy later on. After like a ten minute walk, we arrive at the Sinh tour office, the cheap travel agent where I booked our Cu Chi Tunnel tour and bus to Mui Ne.  We caught our bus going to Cu Chi tunnel, where Anh, our tour guide talked about Ho Chi Minh, both the city and the person.  He seems to be a fanatic of Ho Chi Minh. When we arrived, Anh discussed the story of war and the purpose of the  Cu Chi Tunnel, then watch a very ancient video way back 1960’s. Continue reading here.

Anh, our tour guide