Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May Is Over!

Whewww....time flies so fast, summer is over and what's next? Rainy season, of course. June marks the beginning of school year in the Philippines and the rainy season too. I must admit, I hate this season. It's very hard to move around when it's raining. I also pity the kids when going to school. Luckily, now I don't have to travel to work unlike last time when I was in the Philippines that I have to come to work on shifting and it's so hard to travel from your home to your office when it's raining especially during the night time.

I'm comfortable here where I am now, as I stay and work on the same building and no need to travel at all. But I'm thinking about the kids. Well...it's the time of the year that we have to bear even though we like it or not, after all...it definitely would come.

June also marks the beginning of higher expenses especially when you have kids going to school. School fees, books, school supplies, uniforms, bags, shoes, etc.
I just felt that June is the time of the year that we have to do a lot of preparations. Somehow, I have done mine. Kids are both ready for school and I have done the necessary preparations for the house and for their needs. It's really a great relief! Well...it's not an easy life, we have to work...work...and work!

But on a positive note, I would say that this is what keeps you going!

Ciao!

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Scrumptious Lunch At The Barbecue Garden!

During our last day at Saigon, we had our lunch at Barbecue Garden at District 1. I'd been wanting to bring them here since day two but we were not lucky to find the place on our first few attempts. But this time, since it was our last day, I told the kids that we really have to find the place. Why not? I've been reading a lot of good reviews about this restaurant which is popular for both locals and tourists alike. So, I told myself that we should really give it a try.

Finding the place is not that easy, but after some tiring walk, numerous
inquiries from the local Vietnamese along the side streets and frequent checking with the map that we got from the Post Office, at last, we were able to find the place.



I'm glad to say that after trying so many restaurants in Saigon, I finally heard a good remarks from my daughter. She said that we should have visited this restaurant since we arrived at Vietnam so we can have a second or perhaps even a third visit before we finally finish our vacation. She commented that she truly enjoyed our lunch in this restaurant. Both of them enjoyed cooking the assortment of beef barbecue, squids, fish fillet and some veggies. All of these were marinated perfectly on a special sauce.

Each table has a grill on the center and we just found ourselves enjoying grilling our own foods directly on our table. It was fun! This is actually an outdoor restaurant but protected in case of rain. They have a very good menu book complete with nice photos of the foods and more importantly with an English description so easier for tourists. Food servers were also attentive and friendly. We went there around past 2 PM so the place is not so full giving us the chance to fully enjoy our foods. I learned from some reviews that this place is usually full from 11AM to 1PM and from 7PM to 9PM, so we just decided to avoid the crowd.

Overall, I would say that we had a very nice experience at the Barbecue Garden Restaurant! This is indeed a very good choice in Saigon.

Barbecue Garden is located at :

135A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Dist.1, Hcmc, Vietnam TEL: (84.8) 3 823 3340
Open daily from 11AM - 11PM.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Suoi Tien Amusement Park in Vietnam - A Must See!

A visit to the famous Suoi Tien Amusement Park in Saigon was included in my itinerary and for sure that I wouldn't let pass this trip without bringing my kids there for a visit. My son and daughter both love picture taking so much and there will be no better way to delight them than bringing them to a place full of nice views and good scenery.

This 45 hectares theme park maybe different from the rest of the theme parks in Asia as this showcase more of the history as well as the legends of Vietnam. Inside you can find so many attractions such as water park, rides, zoo, gardens, crocodile farm, dinosaur garden, bumper cars, air bicycles, laser zone, a number of haunted houses, 4D theater and a simple underground aquarium. There is also a part of the theme park where you can see a display of strange things such as animals with two heads, a cow with 6 feet, etc. that were actually preserved for the exhibit.

Lots and lots of colorful giant sculptures can be seen all over the place. You cannot help but admire how these giant sculptures of dragons and Buddha statues were made. I would say that Suoi Tien is more of an amusement and a cultural theme park rather than a modern day theme park.





There are lots of attractions on this theme park that kids and "young at heart" will surely love. Kids can have a boat ride at the Pavilion, do air bicycle, visit the laser zone, and a lot more.

The crocodile farm is worth a visit and you'll be amazed by what you're going to see here.





Overall, Suoi Tien Theme Park is still considered a must see in Vietnam. It's structures were done on a huge scale and definitely worth a visit. Although, it cannot compete with the modern day theme parks around Asia, Vietnam's legend and history were carefully crafted into a one fine amusement park that will make you appreciate the country, it's history and it's culture!

For those who want to visit, the theme park is located at District 9 of Hoh Chi Minh about less than an hour ride by taxi from the city proper. You can also choose to take a bus for a much cheaper option. Just catch Bus 19 at the Bus Station opposite the Ben Thanh Market for only VND4K per person.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Thank You Mom!

Few days ago, my mom was confined to the hospital for a minor operation. She slipped off the kitchen floor few weeks ago and had "displaced bones" on her right hand. She can't hardly move her right arm after that incident and her hand was totally swollen. That time, she was hesitant to see a doctor so we've decided that she would be placed "under observation". We were constantly monitoring her while we were on our Saigon trip. After knowing that her condition never improved, I decided that she should be brought to the hospital right away for an "x-ray". I was back to work then so I have to coordinate everything through the phone. True enough, the doctor immediately recommended that she has to undergo an operation after seeing the result of her "x-ray". She's okay now and having some rest at home. She has to be back to see her ORTHO next month for a follow up check up. I wish that everything would be okay, then.

In moments like this, we have to be strong. She's quite old and cannot afford to have accidents like this but thanks God that she's partially recovered now and hopefully...will fully recover soon.

I'm happy to say that my kids, at such a very young age had grown up to be responsible and smart children. They have coordinated everything almost perfectly with the assistance from my siblings. I'm happy to see how they love their "lola", who at one point in her life had also taken good care of them..and I believe until now, despite getting old and weak is still looking after them. She would often lament to me that she only wanted to live longer because of the kids. She said she still wanted to see them grow up and lead a life of their own...if God will permit.

For this, I would like to thank you Mom! For raising me and my kids and for loving us wholeheartedly...

I will forever treasure this gently, fondly in my heart!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Parkson Department Store At Saigon




Above photos were taken at Parkson Department Store located near the Tan Soh Nhat Airport Hoh Chi Min City. I think Parkson is a Malaysian outlet selling branded apparels, cosmetics, perfumes, watches, jewerlies, etc. Prices of the goods in this department store is quite expensive and mostly sell branded items only. If you're up to branded cosmetics and perfumes, then this is the place for you. But apart from the department store itself, there is a food court on the fifth floor where you can find a wide selection of foods. There is also the Highlands coffee and Citimart where you can buy some grocery items, fruits and some frozen goods. On the 10th floor of the building, you can find the Megastar Cineplex which is always crowded.

Parkson has 3 branches in Hoh Chi Min City, the other two being at Hung Vuong Plaza and District 1 area.

I think it's also worth a visit when you are in Saigon!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Food Trip - Pho 24 at Saigon





We dine twice at Pho 24 and found the foods to be very basic. Actually, I was expecting the soup to be "superb" as I always hear good remarks from friends that they serve the best soup at Hoh Chi Minh. I decided to give it a try but was not really satisfied based from my expectations. In fact, I haven't finish the soup that I ordered and let my son feast with my left over (lol). Kidding aside, even the shredded pork with broken rice (second photo) tastes so blunt. Nothing special. When you look at the menu, you can find so many choices with names look appealing but looks different when it reaches your table. Nonetheless, this food chain is accessible as you can find it all over the area. It would be good enough for a quick remedy to a growling stomach :).

Price is of standard range, around $2.5 to $5 per serving.

Just sharing!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Saigon Painting - A Must Have!

Walking along the streets on our way to Ben Thanh Market direct from our "little shopping" at Saigon Square, we had passed by this Gallery where one guy is doing some painting works. We stopped for a while and watch him as he paints and I'm amazed by his expertise. I've long been wanting to get at least two to three paintings at Saigon same as what I've mentioned on my previous post. But when I saw this guy, I thought of why not ask him to paint our chosen photo from our numerous photos captured on different places at Saigon. I guess that would be more special!

Oh well... the problem is, I forget to inquire about the price and how long he can complete one "made to order" painting. But I'm pretty sure, it won't cost me that much...maybe from the range of $30 to $60?? Hmmm... I have to check it out when I go there next time.




There are actually so many galleries there around District 1 and for sure that you can find one that can fit your taste and budget.

I will definitely make a detailed post on this info as soon as I succeed with my plan (lol).


Ciao!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dental Services At Saigon

One thing that I love about Vietnam is the fact that their medicines, medical and dental services are quite cheaper compared to Philippines. I've read from other blogs that even their optical products and services are cheaper, too. No wonder that I could read some trip reviews that some tourists are actually coming here for two reasons: for pleasure trip and to avail of their dental services.

Well...since this summer is the scheduled dental cleaning for everyone in the family as kids normally do this prior to start of school, all of us have decided to have our dental cleaning done at Saigon. Anyway, we have the scheduled trip so we just want to take advantage trying their dental services also.

There are lots of private dental clinics at Saigon especially at the central district. I can see that the facilities are good and of acceptable standard, some are even of high standard. Talking about the most important consideration..."the price", well..I guess what I've read from other posts were indeed, true. The price of their dental services compared to Philippines is far lower.

We availed of their dental cleaning services for VND150K or about $7.5 or PHP320 compared to what our Family Dentist charged us which is PHP600 to PHP700. Almost half right? That's why I'm thinking of availing their "teeth whitening" in the future, if opportunity arises.


"

Most doctors and dentists can communicate in English so there's not much problem. We survived our "first time" so I guess...everything went through smoothly.

Kids were reluctant at first but after they're done with the procedure, they said it's just perfectly fine to have such at Saigon.

A good experience! :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Visit to the Famous Ben Thanh Night Market At Hoh Chi Min City!

Tourists visiting Hoh Chi Min City would certainly pay a visit to the Ben Thanh Night Market. Actually the goods being sold here and at the Day Market are basically the same except that maybe you can get the goods here on a lesser price. The secret here is to haggle as they normally offer a 100% mark up on the real price of the good, same as what we did to the seller on the photo. We haggle much with her and she commented that we are "smart buyers"(lol).


On one area, you can also find a row of restaurants built in an instant. We tried to eat on one of the restaurants... the Quan An:



We ordered grilled fish, shells cooked with tamarind sauce, and a dish which resembles the Philippines "Beef Steak Tagalog".





The taste of the foods are okay, we almost finished all but for me, a good dinner should be comprised of good foods, good ambiance, good service, relaxing environment where you can enjoy with your drinks and foods while having a good conversation with your family, colleagues or friends.

If you agree with me on this point, then I would say that dining in at Ben Thanh Night Market is not a good option for you. I wonder why so many people, locals and tourists patronize these eateries and restaurants. It's always crowded every time I go here. Hmmm... the selection for the foods is fine, it's complete and their best sellers are mostly the sea foods. But would you feel relaxed when you are very hungry already and it takes years for your foods to come? Oh well..I'm exaggerating it but really, the dish comes one by one and never serve the rice until you ask them. To my dismay, we ordered 3 rice and they give it to us one by one :( Not only that, will you enjoy the food when you witness a group of Europeans quarreling with the people running the restaurant because they waited for their foods more than an hour? You have to ask for everything that you need and before they bring it to you, you have to follow up more than 3 times.

Oh...and the best part is when you check your bill, so many hidden charges. We ordered coconut juice in it's shell and they charged us VND30K (around $1.5 or PHP66.00 ) where you can actually get it for less than a dollar in a decent restaurant. Well...it's not in the menu and I presumed that the price is just the same with the other better restaurants within the area. Next? the wet towels that they served you. They will never offer tissues and give you wet towels instead wrapped and sealed in a plastic. These small towels were actually re used towels and for using this, they will charge you VND10K per piece which is far far more expensive than the actual price of a brand new towel. Tsskk.....always taking advantage on the innocence of tourists.

As expected, I never had a good experience despite the good foods. I would not recommend this place. There's so many decent restaurants around with good facilities and good ambiance for a lesser price. Why would I settle for anything less?? Well...charged this to experience and you'll get a lot wiser next time... (lol)...

Thanks for visiting!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Amazing Acrobat Show At Saigon!

We were lucky to catch an acrobat show inside the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden during our recent visit there this month. I'm not sure if it's just a coincidence that there was a show scheduled there that time or if this is actually a regular show. But I have not encountered anything like this mentioned on Trip Advisor Reviews on Hoh Chi Min City.

At any rate, the show was amazing! I admired the stamina of the Vietnamese performers. The acrobatic acts they have done are quite tough. I guess, the audience was so delighted with the performance. In fact, these two male performers got a lot of TIPS from the satisfied audience.







Imagine for less than a dollar, you can have a good view of the botanical garden, enjoy watching the animals in the zoo, get entertained with songs and dances, magic tricks and be delighted with an amazing acrobat show.

What a treat!!


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Hoh Chi Min City's Central Post Office



Photos above were taken from the Central Post Office in Hoh Chi Min City. This is one of the favorite tourist attractions located on the central district. It is just located opposite the Notre Dame Cathedral and few blocks away from Diamond Plaza.

As you enter the building, you will be amazed at the architectural design of this French Colonial building. It has high ceilings and have elegantly decorated floor tiles finish. Just like the Notre Dame cathedral, this building can boast of it's colonial French architecture. No wonder why many tourists will never complete their visit to Ho Chi Min City without having a look at this Post Office. Since, it is just located opposite Notre Dame Cathedral, it's really worth to take a quick look of this building.

Inside have two souvenir shops where you can buy a lot of souvenir items to bring home. They also sell collection of stamps for those stamp collectors out there! Inside have wooden phone booths which look elegant and beautiful!





Oh! Before I forget, I also would like to mention that inside the Post office has a Foreign Exchange counter where you can exchange USD to Vietnam Dong. I availed of this facility thrice but as a word of caution, there shouldn't be any tax deducted whatsoever in your exchanged notes. I had this experience that on the first two transactions that I had, I got exactly the exchange rate posted on the FOREX Board on display. But on my 3rd time, there was this lady who asked me to fill out a receipt and then deduct some $1.5 which she claimed as tax. I told her that if it's the case, then why on the first two transactions that I had with the other guy, I wasn't deducted any tax? When I complained, she immediately returned the deducted amount without any explanation. Oh well...we have to be smart sometimes, lots and lots of locals would take advantage on tourists most of the time.


Don't fail to visit the Central Post Office in case you happen to visit Hoh Chi Min City in the future. It's worth it!

My Second Lucky Visit At NotreDame Cathedral in Saigon!

From my previous post way way back, I've mentioned about my first visit to Notre Dame Cathedral in Saigon and had expressed my desire to see the interior of the church which I failed to do from my first visit as it was closed.

Well...this time, I would say that I am lucky enough...why?? because on my second visit I am with my kids and lucky enough to visit at the time that the church was opened and there was a wedding rites being conducted.

After we took some photos in front of the church, I made an attempt to enter inside but I was stopped by the lady guard. She said visiting is not allowed at that time. That time, there was a tour bus and so many tourists were taking photos in front of the church. However, you know naman the Filipinos...will always try and try (lol)..
I talked to the lady guard and explained that I really wanted to go inside the church not for anything but just to offer my prayers. Then she asked me, "Are you going alone?" which I replied..."with my two children". Then she said,"okay, you can go now"...I was so happy and immediately asked the kids to enter. We offered our sincere prayers inside for around 15 minutes or so. Of course, we did not take photos inside as that maybe the reason why they don't allow tourists to go inside which I perfectly understand.




The church was quite big and has several separate spaces for praying to different saints, Sto. Nino and to the Mother of Perpetual Help. We did not have enough time to walk around inside the church to see and appreciate everything as there was a wedding rites being conducted. Of course, we don't want to be the subject of attention of everybody. I had a nice experience praying. I could feel the "connection" while I'm praying and the happiness that engulfs my being as I uttered my sincere wishes and prayers. I was in deep concentration and I just felt that I was already in tears while praying.

My mom slipped on the kitchen floor few weeks ago and is suffering from a swollen arm. She can't hardly move her right arm. She's taking pain relievers and antibiotics but the improvement is quite slow. I prayed for her full recovery soon and for more "good times" on a vacation like this with my kids whom I love so dearly! They say that offering a sincere prayer on your very first visit to any church is a good thing to do and often yields positive results if you really prayed from your heart. Well.. I believe in the power of prayers and in my own faith to God. Nothing is impossible to God. So we just have to keep believing!

I bought 2 bracelet rosaries for myself and for Mom infront of the church as souvenir for my visit. Kids bought one too.

I will never forget this experience of visiting Notre Dame Cathedral in Saigon. I wish to be back soon and attend an English mass.

Have a Blessed Day!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Good News For Book Lovers!!

Are you a book worm? Then this is a good news for you! OMF LIT is having a grand book sale from May 16 to 31. They're giving 40% OFF on most OMF LIT titles.



I think they have a wide array of books on sale covering almost all topics of your interest. If you re really into reading quality books, then 40% OFF the price is such a big savings. OMF Literature Inc. is well known in the Philippines when it comes to inspirational books. They offer a wide selection of local and imported titles. 

I had browsed their list and I find myself particularly interested in getting my own copies of these two books: "Heroes" by Harold Sala and "Hope Away From Home" by Evelyn Miranda-Feliciano. Well...as for the first book, I already read one book from the same author, "Train Up A Child" and it's really cool! It's simple and basic and easy to understand. As for the second one, well...I haven't had the chance to read any book from Evelyn Miranda-Feliciano but I got particularly interested with this book the moment I saw the title and found out from the description of the book that this is a book that every OFW must have. This offers practical advises on various aspects of your life as an OFW, so...since I am an OFW myself, I believe that this book is worth reading! I would definitely recommend this one to every OFW's out there!!

What are you waiting for? Grab your copies now from their wide selection of local and imported titles. 

Happy Reading!!

A Visit To Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden

On our 4th day at Saigon, we went to one of the most visited places at District 1, The "Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden".

At first, I was thinking that it must be just a small zoo with a garden, I mean just the basic one since it is located within the heart of the city. But I was wrong! It's quite huge...walking around the entire place had caused me to have some muscle pains (lol)!

The botanical garden housed so many varieties of bonsai trees. Every part of the place was landscaped perfectly.


What excites us most is the white tiger. According to kids they haven't seen a white tiger yet from their numerous school field trips in the Philippines. Hmmm.... I've joined their field trips in the school few times already and I also haven't encountered a white tiger yet. Maybe in other parts of the Philippines because we often visit Metro Manila areas only.


The white tiger is really cute and seems like it is intentionally posing for a picture :) Mikz was so amazed and even video shoot the white tiger as it keeps on walking back and forth through the glass window.

I guess this place is also popular to locals as we have seen a lot of locals there and this maybe a favorite hang out of students as there are plenty of open spaces to gather around, talk and have some snacks.

We haven't seen all the featured animals in the zoo as the place closes at 6PM and we arrived there at around past 3PM already. Edmar and Mika seemed like don't want to go out yet but there was already a zoo guard who's checking the area and asking visitors to leave the place. So, we just left!

It was a lovely day at the zoo!!


Entrance ticket is quite cheap at VND12K (around $0.50 or Php25). This place is just a short distance to the Notre Dame Cathedral and Central Post office but if you're not really into walking, you can go there by TAXI from your hotel for only $1 if you're staying at the Central District.
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