Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Scarlett Travels: Canyon Cove, Batangas

It's summer time, so you know what that means, right? It's time to hit the beach, whether you have that summer bod or not!!

One of the well-known resorts in Batangas is Canyon Cove!! (Click on the link to go to their website). So if you're planning to go to a beach this summer, I'm going to suggest this hotel and spa resort!

BUT WAIT! Before I tell you about our exciting trip to Canyon Cove, I feel obliged, as an RN of the Philippines, to tell you all why hitting the beach is actually a good thing for your body! Click on this link to read the benefits of going to the beach: Health Benefits of Going to the Beach.

Scarlett Travels: Canyon Cove, Batangas

Moving on!!! Last Sunday (March 13, 2016), my family (incomplete *sigh*) went to the beach for an overnight outing at Canyon Cove. I was excited because 1) Canyon Cove has great reviews from other bloggers or even those that visited the resort; and 2) It's been a long time since I went to the beach! I've been wanting to feel the salty ocean against my skin while the sun shines against me without care if I'll get darker.

As we arrived, my heart dropped. Not because of disappointment. No. Hardly. It dropped because right before my eyes was a scenery so beautiful and bright and happy and oh so very exciting!

Scarlett Travels: Canyon Cove, Batangas

Scarlett Travels: Canyon Cove, Batangas

Scarlett Travels: Canyon Cove, Batangas

See???!! It's so beautiful, right?!

While waiting for 4 PM to hit, (we were planning to swim late in the afternoon so that my little nephew won't get sunburned because of too much exposure from the sun), my brother and I decided to take pictures outside.

Scarlett Travels: Me and my brother going out on a tour

Scarlett Travels: Me and my brother going out on a tour

Scarlett Travels: Me and my brother going out on a tour

Scarlett Travels: Me and my brother going out on a tour

And then.....we swam!

Scarlett Travels: We Swam

Scarlett Travels: We Swam

Scarlett Travels: We Swam

Scarlett Travels: We Swam

One problem we encountered was the weak mobile data or mobile signal. This is no problem for those that are there to enjoy and socialize with their family and friend. BUT if you're in urgent need of an internet connection, try going to the Blu Bar near the lobby! What we did is we ordered a drink and asked for the password. Enjoy unlimited access to internet, friends!

Scarlett Travels: Tango Mango from Blu BarScarlett Travels: Tango Mango from Blu Bar

Scarlett Travels: Blu Bar

The next morning (our last day in our overnight outing), I recommend going out for a walk down at the beach. It's a great chance for you to have a quiet moment in your life. If it's too cold, bring a cup of coffee.

Scarlett Travels: Canyon Cove, Batangas

Scarlett Travels: Canyon Cove, Batangas

After one last swim in the morning, it's time to go back to reality and go back home. We had a wonderful time in Canyon Cove and I recommend this to everyone who's reading this. It's such a fun place to go, especially for the family. I hope we'll go back next time. Go to their website and book now! There's a 20% discount for BDO Credit Card holders!!!


Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Scarlett Travels: Vietnam

For 6 years, my family and I have been travelling to different countries, mostly during Christmas breaks. We've already traveled to Hong Kong, Dubai, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam (This is in order, by the way. Multiply HK by 4! Haha!).

Since I've only started this blog back in 2013, I wasn't able to make a travel blog post about Thailand...because I wasn't exactly prepared to make one just yet. The year after that, we went to Hong Kong where we just shopped since we've been there and went on different tour packages in 2010, so it's pretty clear that I don't have much to put in my blog if all we did was shop.

This year, my parents and I went to a different country: Vietnam. And during our stay, we've noticed that not a lot of Filipinos visit this country unlike in HK or SG where you can easily spot a Filipino in almost everywhere (You won't even feel surprised anymore when you hear one speaking in Tagalog). So I'm here to tell you all about our short trip...in hopes that maybe, just maybe, you'll feel like visiting.

Instead of going to North Vietnam, we decided to go to the south first and go back to North Vietnam as a family soon. Anyway, whichever you choose, know that both are beautiful. And if you have time, you can visit north as well if you decided to stay in south, like what we did. Whatever floats your boat.

Grand Saigon Hotel reception area
Mum getting us a room

We stayed in Grand Saigon Hotel (click on the link if you want to know more about them). It's a 4-star hotel or maybe even 5 now...I'm not really updated. And it's located in Ho Chi Minh City, South Vietnam. It's only 20 minutes away from the Tan Son Nhat airport, so no hassle on your part at all. Our room looks gorgeous, by the way, with a beautiful view of the city. And to top it all, it's cheaper than any of the 4- or 5-star hotels that we've been to (ahem, Marco Polo Hong Kong!).

Grand Saigon Hotel
Grand Saigon Hotel
(c) Booking.com

Grand Saigon Hotel bedGrand Saigon Hotel bathroom

Grand Saigon Hotel bathroom

DAY 1 (January 5, 2016)

As soon as we dropped our bags in our hotel room, we decided to go out for lunch. Near the hotel was a restaurant named, Pho 24. Since I know for a fact that Vietnam is known for their famous noodle soup, we opted to go there for lunch. It was simple to order even though the people there doesn't speak much English (or almost everywhere in that country). So it's a good thing that they translated their menu so I could just point at it... genius.

The ala carte costs you about 50,000 VND or 110 PHP or 3 USD, while the combo meals there are less than 100,000 VND or 250 PHP or 5 USD. In such a cheap price, you'll be full already. How awesome is that, right?

After lunch, we decided to walk around the areas near the hotel. We wanted to take a look around just for fun. We've noticed in every street there are at least two coffee shops, and I'm not even talking about Starbucks (there's only a few in Vietnam unlike in the Philippines). I won't find it a bit weird since Vietnam is known for their coffee beans.

Anyway, there were also a lot of stores near our place that specializes in various things like bags, crafts, souvenir, clothes, et cetera. There was a particular store that we visited that sold authentic leather materials and even jade accessories. Mum bought my dad a new wallet made with real leather and bought a real jade bracelet for us both. In cheaper prices unlike in other countries that we've been in (ahem again, Hong Kong). And Thank God for Kris Aquino for the tip about how to identify a real jade. God Bless, Kris TV and all their adventures.

Jade bracelet
The jade bracelet mum bought for me
Afterwards, mum decided to buy souvenirs already. There was a shop near the place where we bought jade bracelets that sold good quality souvenirs in cheap prices. One thing I can say is that...almost everything came in cheap here. Seriously. Then we went to a nearby cafe called Trung Nguyen Coffee to order coffee and just chill for awhile. Trung Nguyen Coffee is Vietnam's leading coffee shop and I can't even argue with that. The price is reasonable, the place looks fantastic, and the drinks we awesome. Need I say more?

Trung Nguyen Coffee Green Tea

We went back to the hotel afterwards to rest because we haven't had a good rest after hours of travelling.

For dinner, my mum had to meet someone she knows that lives in Vietnam so it was time for a father-daughter date. Thing was, we had an funny incident in a fancy restaurant (I am not even gonna tell you guys) and we decided to eat in McDonald's instead. Just remember, folks, if in doubt or out of cash, McDonald's will save your life.

DAY 2 (January 6, 2016)

Free breakfast at our hotel, so no worries about thinking where to go!

Grand Saigon Hotel
See how fancy it looks!
For lunch, we decided to try street foods. Like Thailand, Vietnam is also known for their street food! Coincidentally, there was a woman selling lunch across our hotel. She was selling different viands. She has it all! Chicken, beef, pork, vegetables, fish, and of course, rice. Don't ever think about "We'll go back to her later" because it'll be a huge mistake as she'll leave almost immediately. So we didn't waste time and we bought three viands and she was not stingy with her rice. All of it cost approximately 60,000 VND or 130 PHP or 3 USD.

Anyway, day two is all about touring. So mum got as a tour package where we can go to new places in Ho Chi Minh City.

First stop was to Vietnam's Chinatown or also known as Cholon in Ho Chi Minh District 5. Home to millions of Chinese-Vietnamese citizens. We get to ride rickshaws (cycling rickshaws, more likely...they're modern now) to take us around the town.

Vietnam RickshawVietnam Rickshaw

Vietnam RickshawVietnam Rickshaw

Afterwards, we went to Jade Emperor Pagoda in District 1.

Then, last but not least, Ho Chi Minh's central market or also known as Ben Thanh Market in District 1. It was a huge place and is one of the best shopping places in Ho Chi Minh. You can  buy clothes, ingredients, vegetables, meat, and fruits (oh, let us not forget the fruits in Vietnam!!!). Mum bought clothes there that are of good quality and fruits....mouth watering fruits.

Like Thailand, Vietnam is also known for their fruits. Their delicious fruits that makes your tongue dance with glee. My favourite fruits in this country? None other than the Dragon Fruits and Mangoes. Damn, those mangoes! So big, so sweet, but oh so expensive.

(c) http://static.asiawebdirect.com

For dinner, we decided to try a restaurant that we've been seeing all around the area: Mon Hue. We just ordered and ate it inside the hotel. I forgot what we ordered but I'm certain that it as salad for mum and dad while I had chicken. It was affordable as well!

DAY 3 (January 7, 2016)

Last free day is all about shopping. We ate breakfast at our hotel and decided to visit Notre-Dame Basilica near our hotel. On our way, we passed by the Saigon Opera House or the Ho Chi Minh Municipal Theatre.

Saigon Opera HouseSaigon Opera House

Notre-Dame BasilicaNotre-Dame Basilica

After we visited the Notre-Dame Basilica, we went to the nearest mall, Vincom Center B, and shopped (again...problem was, I didn't have money so I just watched mum shop). January is a great time to visit Vietnam because most of the stores are on sale! And it wasn't crowded.

We ate lunch in a restaurant called Kichi Kichi. It's a hot pot buffet (like Four Seasons by Vikings) where you get your own pot and take all the ingredients from a coveyor belt (like in Sakae Sushi, right?). In Vietnam, there are a lot of hot pot buffet restaurants but Kichi Kichi is unique. You guys should try it. Oh, did I mention that it is cheap, too? At noon, the price of one person is approximately 200,000 VND or 430 PHP or 9 USD. And during dinner, the price of one person is approximately 230,00 VND or 490 PHP or 11 USD. See? Isn't it cheap?

Kichi Kichi\

After lunch, we had dessert in and American ice cream parlour called Bud's Ice Cream. You guys should try this, too!

Bud's Ice CreamBud's Ice Cream

DAY 4 (January 8, 2016)

Ahhh, last day. And also.... my birthday! Hahaha. We didn't do much on this day since we were on our way home. Although, it is my first time to be greeted by the hotel's staff. I'll tell you all about it!

So we went downstairs for our breakfast buffet early in the morning. I was clueless, really, given that it is my first time celebrating my birthday in another country (and also most of the day was spent inside the airport and airplane *sigh*). Anyway, I was eating peacefully when suddenly we were surrounded. I got a little scared that time, I thought I did something wrong. But then they started to sing! So I looked back and saw that they also have a cake for me (too early for cake but I don't really care). Gosh, I was lost for words. Oh, did I mention almost everyone in the hall was looking at me? Anyway, thank you Grand Saigon Hotel for such a wonderful experience!!!!

Thank you, also, Vietnam!!!! Gosh, we are so going back! Until my next travel, guys! Oh, and read some of my other posts as well, if you're feel like it. Ciao!

* To those of you who'll ask why we didn't visit Cambodia...we were actually planning, too. But we didn't have much time since we only stayed for four days. So we decided that we will visit Cambodia as a family next time and go on different tour packages and even go to North Vietnam!