~Audi alteram partem~

You know your part of the story. Now hear the other side.
Cos everyone just want to be heard

Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts

Six cities in six days

1. Hanoi - 19 Aug

Had to meet a kabajillion people for this trip. But that means a kabajillion food.
Vietnamese beef noodle, pho
The mandatory pho. Costs just around SGD2 (VND35.000)
Vietnamese pigeon sticky rice
Pigeon sticky rice. WHAT?! That's right, pigeon sticky rice.
If you're wondering, pigeon meat tastes like pork but with much softer texture, and minus the smell. 
Got hit by a motorcycle when I was walking in Old Quarter. That's the first. But the driver is so pro that she (yes, it's a SHE) stopped at the right time and "only" nudged on my ankle with her motorcycle front wheel.

2. Vinh - 20 Aug

Vinh, Vietnam Airlines
Yes, that's the airplane we had to take to reach Vinh.
It's by Singapore Airlines.
Homemade Vietnamese food
More food! This time all is homemade.
Can you believe they cooked all of this within a couple of hours!

3. Cửa Lò - 21 Aug

Cua Lo beach, Vietnam
Just about half an hour drive from Vinh, Cua Lo has different atmosphere being right on the side of a beach. And what a beautiful beach it is! We're here, of course, to have dinner of fresh seafood.
Not so impressed by the cookings though, not sure if it's the restaurant's fault or I'm not a fan of the cooking style. Except for the oysters. Well it's oysters. You can't go wrong with them.

4. Da Nang - 22 Aug

Danang is surprisingly clean and safe. I have the vibe of Penang, where we can walk by the roadside because there is a roadside, and because people or cars won't bother you.
Also surprisingly, there's so many Koreans! The annoying thing is, they're all eating Korean food or french fries. That's sad, when you can get these kind of food:
Central Vietnamese food
This is hands down the best meal I had in our Vietnam trip this time.
Sun-dried squid, garlic oysters, morning glory (kangkong), mi quang, and beeeeerrrrsss.

The highlight of our dinner time in Da Nang: Cha ca or Vietnamese fishcake, and mi quang or literally the noodles from Quang Nam area: 
Chả Cá Thăng LongMì Quảng
The first time I had cha ca in Hanoi, it wasn't to impressive. But this time, it's so mind-blowing, I even finished all the vegetables! Funnily, it's the first time my Vietnamese boyfriend had mi quang, and I proudly claim that I'm the one who told him about it. We liked it so much during our lunch, we just have to find it again for our dinner.

5. Hội An - 23 Aug

Hoi An at sunset

Just a half-hour drive from Danang, Hoi An is great for day trip. The UNESCO site is tiny, you can walk around it in one hour. It's very photogenic. Just in a few hours we're there, we saw at least 6 couples doing pre-wedding pictures.

Hoi An ancient city
But another highlight is of course the food scene. There's a stretch along the river that's dedicated for food stalls. Some of the things we had are dry pork noodles, mini egg pancake, and Vietnamese pancake (respectively cao lầu, bánh căn, bánh xèo), the last being my absolute favourite.

6. Hue - 24 Aug

We weren't planning to drop by here. It's our last day but our flight is at night. There's nothing much to do in Danang except eating. So we decided to visit Vietnam's ancient capital city instead.
With 2 hours drive away from Danang, it's a bit further that I expected. It feels a bit rushed since we only spent a few hours here.
Vietnamese dessert Bánh Ít Lá GaiCentral Vietnam Pork NoodlesHue Lemongrass skewer (Nem lụi)
Vietnamese steamed riceVietnamese fried chicken
Who am I kidding, we're just there to eat. Went to the old palace to take a glimpse but we spent more time to eat. Omg, ya'll. If you think Vietnamese food is nice, you should try Central Vietnamese food. I'm so upset with myself that I didn't go there earlier.

Random thoughts from this trip:

  • You have to spend at least 2 days in each city of Central Vietnam (Danang, Hoi An, Hue). Because you need at least the space of 3 meals a day to enjoy the food they have to offer.
  • That's all, that's all the thoughts I have from this trip, just food-related.

Jewels of Italy

Il Duomo, Florence, Italy
We took this picture ourselves from Piazzale Michelangelo.

So I finally visited one of my dream places: Italy! And let me tell you, that place is still dreamy.
We went to 5 cities: Rome, Pisa, Florence, Verona, and Venice, but my favourite is still Florence.

I originally wanted to share every details of my journey to, and in, Italy, but I ended up with 4 pages of essay. I don't want to torture you with that. So let me just start with answering the question I got a lot regarding my trip to Italy: What are your recommendations for Italy?

Well, my recommendation is actually to quit your job, withdraw everything you have in your bank, and just move to Italy already. But since we live in a cruel world with everyone judging us, here are more realistic recommendations:
  • You'll need internet there
Having internet is useful anywhere. But especially so for Italy. There are so many places to go, you could be standing next to a famous archaeological site and you wouldn't know. This is why you need to constantly check your Google Map. Also, there's thousands of great neighbourhood eating places, so whenever you're hungry, just whip up your Google, and see if there's one right next to you.
  • But don't buy SIM card in the airport
We were checking the SIM card sold in the airport because we're agitated about being disconnected (and Rome airport wifi is not so reliable). But then the seller said €40. We didn't even hear how many Gig of Internet before we said "no thanks". Outside, we still couldn't find a cheap SIM card, but in the end we bought one in Termini Station for €25 that provides 3 Gb of internet. Good enough for 10 days in Italy.
  • When in Rome, go to Pane e Salame
Yeah sure, go to Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, and be like any other tourists. Or, you can go to Pane e Salame and have a taste of the best prosciutto+wine you'll ever tasted in your life. It is the #1 out of almost 10.000 restaurants in Rome. It's literally 2 minutes walk from Trevi Fountain. So if you can go to the Fountain, you can go to Pane e Salame.
  • Walk around Florence
Reserve at least 3 whole days of your trip in Italy just for Florence, and explore the city on foot. This city is BEAUTIFUL. Everywhere you turn is history and art and beauty. All the famous landmarks are within walking distance. The one place you shouldn't miss is Piazzale Michelangelo. This is where you can see Florence in its full glory from a hill (see picture above).
And there's of course the Florence Cathedral, the house of Il Duomo di Firenze. The beauty of it.. something you have to witness for yourself.
My only regret in Florence is that we only had barely a day there. Fret not, my love, I will come back!
  • Florentine steak is the food of the gods
You don't know the meaning of delicious if you haven't tasted the Florentine steak. I wasn't even hungry when we went for the steak. But when we were served a 1.2 kg worth of meat +2 side dishes, just for the 2 of us, I licked the plate clean.
The place we went to was Trattoria Osteria Da Que' Ganzi. It's ranked pretty good in TripAdvisor, #56 of 2000+ restaurants in Florence, and they well-deserve their rank.
Florentine steak
Look at this beauty.
Other random thoughts about Italy:
- Gelato is overrated, go for wine instead.
- Going during low season like in October is not so bad. It's less crowded and I enjoyed the cool weather.
- Don't go for restaurants, please. PLEASE. The best food (and wine!) are from the small eating places.
- Fun fact: There are ancient water fountains in Rome that still work and we can still drink the water. They also have a few of these in Venice, but I didn't see it in Florence. So there's no need to buy bottled water, just refill your empty wine bottles with these water fountains.
- Why, oh why, wasn't I born in Italy T.T

And last but not least, always remember:
 "It is a good life we lead, brother." 
"The best. May it never change." 
"And may it never change us."


A beach in Phuket

Finally, we visited Phuket.
Thailand's biggest island (almost as big as Singapore), which is also the favourite for foreigner.

It reminds me a lot of Bali, though. I still thought I was in Indonesia even on the second day. Doesn't mean it's a bad thing! I get to explore the hilly island on a bike. Great food, friendly people, beautiful beaches calling you to sleep the whole day without any worries, what's not to love!

Here are a few memorable things (among many!) I experienced there:
  • Did I say food?
From street food to restaurant food, local food to Western food. Just pick a random seller, it'd most probably be delicious.
Delicious Thai grilled foodDelicious Thai steamed squid
Delicious Thai foodPizza and bbq ribs
  • Uber ist not gut
Unlike Jakarta, Uber is is not that much cheaper from Taxi services. In fact, there is actually no Uber in Phuket. The market is monopolised by Grab (at least as of Sept 2016). We spent about SGD35 to go from airport to our resort (one way!). But Grab still offers the convenience of just keying in your location+destination in the app, and you can just sit prettily for your pickup.
  • They don't know Cha Tra Mue!
This is probably the only "disappointment" we have. The first thing we look for in Thailand, of course, the famous Thai tea. But apparently the Thai tea we know is actually more of Bangkok tea, only famous in Bangkok.
  • Phuket is not cheap at all
Contrary to popular Singaporean beliefs that Thailand is cheap, Phuket is not.
Sure you can get views like this when you eat at a restaurant:
Restaurant in Patong Beach
But the pricing is almost exactly like Singapore. Around $10-$18 per dish.
But then again, the service is waaaaaay better than Singapore. Good thing is, most restaurants accept cards, so if you don't mind the 3% charge, swipe away!
  • But it can get very cheap if you know how
Taxi/Grab is expensive, yet the tourist spots are quite far away from each other. It's way better to rent a bike. A car is good too, but the roads there are narrow, so, take your pick.
Don't miss the Weekend Market, or as the locals know it: Naka Weekend Market. There are plenty of cheap but nice items for souvenirs and a plate of any food is only around THB25, which equals to SGD1 --ONE DOLLAR! We stayed there for about 3 hours just to eat miscellaneous things.

That's a quick recap of my adventure in this famous island. It's too bad that I didn't get to explore the surrounding island like Phi Phi or James Bond island. But that'd be another adventure for another chapter.

A weekend well-spent

I think I've never written anything about my travels. I need to make it a habit so I can have written memories about the interesting things in my life.

So, first ever travel journal: Jakarta.
I haven't been there since forever. I can't even remember since when... Was it 2007 or 2008, or after that. 
Didn't really want to ever visit Jakarta because the traffic is traumatic. 
But a close friend is getting married so we have a excuse reason to go. 

I have to say this time the experience has been much better.
Jakarta is kinder to me this time.
  • There was less traffic. 
It helps, of course, that I arrived at 11 pm on Friday and went to the airport on 3 pm on Monday. And I was late meeting people most of the time, but hey, at least I got to meet them on the same day instead of the next day!
  • Uber ist gut
Seriously. It's much better than taking Taxi. It comes immediately, and it's dirt cheap. I was pleasantly surprised.
  • Partying, partying, hey!
Got to go some fancy places in Jakarta, like the Cloud Lounge. The place is meh, but what's good is I got to meet some old friends (and new)! The rare kind souls that I was lucky enough to befriend.

And not forgetting the best thing about visiting Indonesia: FOOD

 Bebek goreng and nasi bakar.


Mi kepiting, sate babi, crab noodle, pork satayChurros in Jakarta
Mi kepiting, sate babi, churros + Spanish coffee.
Gado-gadoSiomay Bandung
Gado-gado, and siomay Bandung.

And a lot more, but too many to list here. 
I might not be back to Jakarta any time soon, but now I have a better memory of this crowded city.

Next stop: Phuket!

One day...

Cat Ba, Hai Phong