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Sunday, June 30, 2013

GOLDEN TEMPLE VILLA Siem Reap: Small hotel with a BIG Statement

It was another 6 hours ride from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, supposedly, but it took ud only 5 hours because we took the van instead which I think is more efficient especially given the poor road condition between two cities.

It was the same scenario from HCMC, we left the capital 3pm so we were in Siem Reap by 8pm. We went straight to our hotel for check in. Knowing that a nice accommodation is waiting for you is one of those simple pleasures of tiring road journeys.

GOLDEN TEMPLE VILLA Siem Reap is love.

Golden Temple Villa Siem_Reap
GOLDEN TEMPLE VILLA Siem Reap

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

To Say The HENRY HOTEL Cebu is "Like No Other" is an understatement

It's one of the few hotels which made me exclaim "My god this place!" on several occasions. Sorry, I didn't help it.

I know it's the onset of the rainy season and for somebody like me who dreads turbulence on a plane ride, flying to Cebu alone seemed like a bad idea.For some weird reason, I felt like Cebu (having been there several times) couldn't excite me anymore. I was wrong yet again.After this solo trip, I have seen Cebu with fresh eyes. My accommodation in Cebu City, The Henry Hotel in Banilad changed that mood.

To say that The HENRY HOTEL CEBU is like no other could actually be an understatement. It is on a league of its own.It's a visual feast,even to somebody like me who is not good with art.This place is a thing of beauty.I see it as a celebration of the beautiful things in life.

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The HENRY HOTEL Cebu

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

EASTWOOD RICHMONDE HOTEL Staycation Beat my Expectations

Eastwood Richmonde Hotel may not be as popular as other hotels in Metro Manila, but that's exactly the reason why I loved it.Less crowded means more peaceful and laidback----the feeling that you hardly get once in the Metro despite effort to isolate yourself from the tiring fast-paced life.

I came to appreciate this more coz were just got back from our 3-country swing of Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand for 7 days which meant we had to constantly push ourselves to be able to explore more of the areas we covered.No time to waste.It was physically exhausting and all we wanted was to slowdown and reward ourselves with a relaxing staycation.
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The newest addition to the Richmonde Hotel brand comes to the ever exciting community of Eastwood City in Quezon City, completing this township’s mix of establishments and answering the lodging needs of business and leisure travelers in Manila.

The Thirty-minute Tour Inside the ROYAL PALACE Phnom Penh for $8 ?

I thought paying $8 just for a 30-minute peek inside the Royal Palace Complex in Phnom Penh was one desperate move but we had no other choice.I asked my friends and they all agreed ----andito narin lang tayo,why not make the most out of it.

It would have been a shame if we missed it.The reason is because we already purchased shuttle tickets to Siem Reap and the transportation was to leave 3pm with our things still at the front desk of the hotel.At least we got to enjoy a palace visit with less the crowd.Say,in Angkor Complex for example, the temples are amazing but it's difficult to take photos without photo bombs.
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at the ROYAL PALACE Phnom Penh

Monday, June 24, 2013

KHA VI GUEST HOUSE: Where NOT to Stay in Phnom Penh Cambodia

Among all the accommodations we tried during our Vietnam-Cambodia-Thailand trip , KHA VI GUEST HOUSE in Phnom Penh was the worst.I mean, $10 overnight accommodation (good for 2pax w/o breakfast) is not expensive but I am sure you can find a better place at the same rate.If I am to describe it in one word, it would be ----- dysfunctional.

We stayed in a fan room originally for 2 but upgraded it to 3 beds so we were asked to pay $5 more.Meaning, $5 per pax. We paid an extra $5 coz we realized that we cannot survive without the A/C on one hot Cambodian summer night.That means $20 total for this dark,dysfunctional and ambiance-less place.

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KHA VI GUEST HOUSE Phnom Penh

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Souvenir Hunting + Lunch at the CENTRAL MARKET Phnom Penh

Remember this,if you go on a city tour of Phnom Penh with the Killing Fields and the Grand Palace as part of the itinerary, you have to know that the Grand Palace closes from 11am and will not be open til 2pm.

Since the Killing Fields is 15kms from downtown, our tuktuk driver advised that we go there first.It was a wrong move.He didn't mention of that the Grand Palace actually closes during lunchtime.When we got back to the city center therefore, we were for a few minutes puzzled about what to do.Good thing Katsu (our Japanese buddy) suggested that we go to the market. Perfect coz it's just nearby plus we were in the mood to look for some souvenirs and trying some local food 'market style'.
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the CENTRAL MARKET Phnom Penh

Friday, June 21, 2013

The KILLING FIELDS Choeung Ek Cambodia

We were advised to skip Phnom Penh and head straight to Siem Reap but how can one snob Cambodia's capital when there is so much contemporary history in it.

Phnom Penh is the current capital of Cambodia after it was moved there after the fall of Angkor, the old capital.It lay witness to the continued struggle of the country being pawn to its powerful neighbors ----Thailand and Vietnam.

It is important to note that Thailand (Ayuthaya) was responsible for the fall of Angkor and Vietnam's communist struggle also affected Cambodia in a big way.Khmer Rouge, the notorious communist group lead by Pol Pot was a result of the victory of communist North Vietnam (which by the way was also responsible for the defeat of the group later on).The civil war of 1969-1975 eventually lead to the victory of the repressive regime (helped by communist North Vietnam) which orchestrated the Cambodian Genocide.

One should not miss The KILLING FIELDS  in  Choeung Ek when visiting Phnom Penh. This is one of the most popular mass graves where victims of the Communist Regime of Pol Pot were dumped.
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human skulls on display at the Killing Fields  Choeung Ek

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Khmer Kor Koo Soup,Tom Yam Hot Pot and Amok Fish in SINH FOO RESTAURANT Phnom Penh

The 6-hour bus ride from HCMC to Phnom Penh was kinda tiring but we didn't want to waste time since we have only one night to spend in Cambodia's capital.We therefore settled our things at our hotel and immediately went out to hunt for a good restaurant.

Gladly, our tuktuk driver was reliable.He suggested to us a good restautant by the avenue near the riverside.

With Katsu, my seatmate at the bus and near travel buddy joined us.
The restaurant is SINH FOO RESTAURANT which is below a guesthouse with the same name.
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Streamed Fish with Lemon 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ho Chi Minh City to PHNOM PENH via Mekong Bus


The bus ride from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh (the capital of Cambodia) took 6 hours via Mekong Bus at $14/ pax.I am not sure if it due to speed limit restrictions but I noticed that the bus didn't go beyond 50kph despite light traffic or navigating the highway.No wonder why Mekong Bus Line is reputed as the safest plying this route.

PS: Mekong Bus Line is a Cambodian company.I realized that when I was asking about Mui Ne to the conductor and he doesn't know where it is.

The company is quite generous.The conductor started distributing 1.mineral water 2.biscuits and 3.cold wipes to each passenger the moment we left for Phnom Penh.

He would also speak on the microphone for safety instructions and reminders.Fist in Cambodian then in English.Parang nasa eroplano lang.



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Mekong Bus tp Phnom Penh

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

HONG HAN HOTEL Bui Vien: Backpacker Friendly + Very Helpful Manager


Bui Vien is the backpackers district of Ho Chi Minh City.This is where many affordable hotels and bed&breakfast are located.We stayed in HONG HAN HOTEL.

We arrived at around 1am local time.Contacted the hotel to arrange a van trabsfer for us and it was all smooth.Approximately 30minutes from the airport.The main door to the hotel was already closed when we arrived so we had to doorbell..This is true to most hotels in the area.I guess to prevent looters.Security guards are not common in Vietnam.

Though cctv's are installed in establishments,they are not enough to deter any intrusions that's why they have to close doors at night.If you are comin in on a late flight,it might be difficult to find a hotel in the district on walk-in.It's best that you book before flying in.At least,they could expect you.I had to constantly email the hotel for instructions.Good thing they can reply in comprehensive english and Ahn,the manager of Hong Han Hotel was patient and prompt in answering my queries.


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 HONG HAN HOTEL Bui Vien Ho Chi Minh City

Monday, June 10, 2013

Cha Ca, Banh Xeo, Rau Mong and Nem Ran at NHA HANG NGON Restaurant Ho Chi Minh City



The late-night Pho experience we had moments after arrival in Ho Chi Minh really set the bar high for more Vietnamese food craving.Had a rather simple breakfast at the hotel so there wasn't enough space for a meal.Hours of walking though made us really hundgry and after a brief stay at the Central Post, we looked for the restaurant suggested by the manager of the hotel which was apparently near the area.Very handy.

With my food list ready, we entered NHA HANG NGON Restaurant.
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Cha Ca at NHA HANG NGON Restaurant HCMC

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Ho Chi Minh City: The WAR REMNANTS MUSEUM

If you have anti-American sentiments,this could be the perfect place for you.It was quite difficult for me to absorb at first but that's the reality of it ---in war, the winner takes all, including the right to project who the goons are, and even mock them long after it's over.It was a hard fought battle.Vietnam War was one of the bloodiest war in recent history.On the surface, Vietnam looks like any other democratic country but I had to remind myself that this is a communist state. Doing so would make you understand the place more.

The War Remnants Museum is the testament of the war crimes of the French and American forces during the 20-year armed conflict and it was here where we started our Walking City Tour of Ho Chi Minh City.

The War Remnants Museum HO CHI MINH CITY
inside The WAR REMNANTS MUSEUM Ho Chi Minh City

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Walking Tour of HO CHI MINH CITY


I finally took the courage to go on a self-proclaimed 7-day vacation. Lakasan lang ng loob.This was something I haven't done before out of fear that I might have no more work to go back to when I return.But the urge to see Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand was worth the risk.I am glad I did.It was experience of a lifetime.One which I suggest young and 'physically' able Filipinos should do. Hanggat bata pa at kaya pa ng katawan ---go for it!

I will be sharing our 7 days/6 nights itinerary soon after I am done with my individual posts.Details first before a 'grand' summary.

I was with my wife and three other friends.Our #SEA2013 Tour started in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam otherwise known as Saigon.

Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City from Bến Thành Market
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