Shopping Some More at Saigon Square

Sep 30, 2014

One of the reasons we wanted to go to Ho Chi Minh city was to buy bags, and we found all the bags that we wanted at Saigon Square.  The bags here are much better than the selections at Ben Thanh Market.  We actually didn't buy any bag at Ben Thanh, and we bought at least 5 bag each at Saigon Square.
Please do not ask me how we got here as I am so bad at directions, but we passed by Saigon Square during our City tour that day before and the boys were able to find it back the following day on foot (or you may check it here). Or you can just take a cab as it is just so cheap here but just remember to have VND with you.  The place looks like our Greenhills or St. Francis Square and they have everything! Too bad I wasn't able to take photos as I was busy with shopping, hahaha! Its so cheap here! But as a tip: I suggest you convert your US$ to VND so as not to lose money in conversion.

So, anyway we bought a lot of North Face bags from US$20-25, as well as Kipling, Crumpler and some more 'pabili' that I can't recall right now.  Though I bought 20 kilos for each of us for the trip back home, I am still afraid that we might need to pay for excess baggage!

We are actually very happy with our purchases as we researches the North Face bags and they seem to be original, or in great quality.  The stall where we bought most of the bags is actually flocked by Pinoy biyaheras so we know we were good.

My First Zalora Philippines Shopping Experience

Sep 29, 2014

Full disclosure: I received a P1,000 Zalora online voucher for a writing gig that I did last month (and I used it for this purchase but this blog post is purely my experience that I am sharing with you).  It was valid for one year and I can use it to purchase any item online ( except for no-sale brands and non-sale category).  I already signed up at Zalora some time back but haven't had a chance to check out the site so when I received the voucher, I started checking out the items. And oh boy, was I glad that I did!

I first checked out the Jansport bags, then the clothes, then the shoes.  I actually had a grand time putting items on My Bag when I liked something, and then I would go back and remove it when I changed my mind.  I did this for 2 weeks, hahaha.  I was actually about to check out with some flat shoes, umbrella and wallet, but decided against them at the last time.  I had fun "window" shopping, hahahaha! It was quiet easy to remove and add items and when I logged on again last week, I checked out their women's clothes section and fell in love with these basic women blouses and bought 2. Then I finalized my order. 

Its so easy I do not have to show you how to do it. Even easier than buying from Metrodeal, hehehe. So before finalizing my order, I entered my online voucher in the box where its says " gift certificate or promo code" and Voila! I just had to pay P98.  There were may payment options but I opted to pay cash upon delivery. Then, on September 24, my order was placed and on-process.  A minute after, I received an email that my order has been confirmed and delivery (which was Free by they way for purchases above P1,000) will be in 1-3 days. That was a Wednesday. 

And surprise, surprise! By the following morning, I received an email that my order has been shipped, and at around 9-ish, they have arrived in my office! I paid the courier the P98 that I still owe them, sign some papers and went to my cube to check my orders! I was so excited! I took photos and then ripped the packaging to get my stuff.  

Unfortunately, they were too big! I ordered L because I am a large.  But my friend said that I should have checked if the sizes are in US because I would be a size smaller then.  Good thing, they offer free return or exchange. So I immediately called their customer service and asked for a free pick-up of the items.  I was instructed to fill up the form inside the package and indicate the replacement or exchange details so I changed my items to a M.  Then the girl said that they will schedule the pick-up of the item. 
I again received a email that my request for pick-up has been acknowledged. And the items were picked up by Friday afternoon.And then lo, and behold, the new items were delivered at around 2pm today, Monday. The woven blouses were in M sized as requested, and they came in this nice resealable bag.

So I again went to try them on, and now the size is just perfect.  I was so happy with my purchase because the quality of the blouses were great and because I actually just paid P49 for each because of the voucher, and the even the shipping was free! I thought  I would have a hard time exchanging the items but they were delivered just the following work day (pick-up on Friday and delivery again on Monday morning!) 
So, yes I was very happy with my first Zalora shopping experience and I am sure to go shopping some more.  Their prices are actually competitive.  Their Fila rubber shoes on sale are the same with we have here at Robinsons Galleria.  The Jansport bag on sale is even cheaper at P1,700.  And my orders even came with another Fab P150 promo code that I can use in my next purchase! 

And you can get 15% discount on your first purchase if you use this voucher: ZBAPz9R

Eating and Shopping at Ben Thanh Market

Our full Day 5 and 6 were spent in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.  We had the whole of Day 5 doing the tour and the whole of Day 6 to shop.  Out flight was due to leave at 1am of Day 7 so we really had a full day of shopping.  But on our Day 4 and 5, we already visited the night market in Ben Thahn which is the largest marketplace in HCM.  There were just so many things to buy, and many places to eat!
I can't believe that I didn't have that much photos of the stuff that can be bought at Ben Thahn market.  I think because I have my hands full with shopping so my camera and phones were stuffed inside the bag! In Ben Thanh, we were able to buy North Face jackets and hoodies, blouses and shirts, wallets and coin purses, ref magnet, caps and a lot more! 
We also had our lunch here having some more (what else!) Noodles! It was a fun and tiring day, and we went back to our hotel for a little rest, then we went out again to Saigon Square for (what else again?) shopping!

Dinner At Com Tam Cali

Sep 28, 2014

We had 3 dinners in Vietnam, and 2 of them were spent at Com Tam Cali.  First, because I already ate here with my friends in 2013, Two, because it was near our hotel and three, because it was good and the servings were huge.  I think a meal costs around US$4-5 per person and they have an English-speaking server so it was a lot easier to order food.

Yep, they serve rice in different flavors, and they accept dollars so it was also convenient. 

Saigon Opera House

Our last stop for the DIY city tour was a stop at the Saigon Opera House or the Municipal Theatre. I think there was something going on inside as there were ushers by the lobby.
The architecture was just beautiful.  I feel sorry for our own Metropolitan Theatre which sets in neglect while this one is so beautifully and functionally preserved!

In this area also was a beautiful hotel called the Caravel Hotel and premium shops like Louis Vuitton. 

Next stop: Dinner

Saigon Central Post Office

Sep 27, 2014

After seeing the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral, we walked a little more to see the Saigon Central Post Office. It was built when Vietnam was under French Rule and is done in Neoclassical style.
It is an actual post office by the way and is a tourist attraction as well where souvenir items are sold.
This was constructed by Gustave Eiffel of the Eiffel Tower! It's so grand, isn't it?

Notre Dame Cathedral

Sep 26, 2014

After that failed visit to the Reunification Palace, we walked some more towards the Notre Dame Cathedral. We passed a beautiful park and our first glimpse of the church made us stop and stare for a moment.  The cathedral was beautiful!
Simply breathtaking! Too bad we were not able to attend a mass, but we did say a prayer of thanks for the chance to see it!
Just beautiful! And I have no more words! The bricks were said to be imported from France. Just beautiful.

Next stop: The Saigon Central Post Office

Reunification Palace

Sep 25, 2014

This was an epic fail! We didn't get to visit the inside of the Reunification Palace because it closes at 4pm.  We took our sweet time at the War Remnants Museum, and then we had to walk a few blocks.  So by the time we got there, they wouldn't let us in.  Let us just all read about it here and here and here! Well, another reason to go back to Ho Chi Minh!

Next stop: Notre Dame Cathedral

War Remnants Museum

After the Cu Chi Tunnel tour, we asked to be dropped off at the War Remnants Museum.  We paid an entrance fee (cheaper when you have VND Dong with you instead of USD) of VND15,000.  It was a huge museum, with various floors and different displays.  The outside was used to display military planes, tanks and helicopters used during the war.
Suffice it to say the visit to this museum was really, really depressing.  Nobody ever really wins in a war and everybody is a casualty.  Even unborn children of parents afflicted with the effects of Agent Orange suffered tremendously!
There were times when my breathing would hitch and I would have trouble suppressing a sob and a few did escape, especially when I saw the photos of the children. It was that depressing, yet educational at the same time.
The artwork above was made from materials from the war such as bombs, bullets, etc.  And I couldn't stay a minute longer inside :(

Wednesday Happy Thoughts

Sep 24, 2014

Happiness is:
1. Thankfully spared from Typhoon Mario.
2. Emergency leave
3. Tokwa't baboy
4. Spicy lechon belly, but not the accompanying hyperacidity, hahahaha!
5. Done with my steroid medication
6. Almost done with 6 papers due on Saturday, yay!
7. No class last Saturday!
8. Warts removed, beautiful face restored, hahaha!
9. Bought and paid massage for the Superfriends! Yey!
10. Chocolates.

To see how this started and for credits on the image, click here.

Ho Chi Minh City Tour Itinerary

street scenes of Ho Chi Minh
Here is our itinerary in Ho Chi Minh City during that visit in February:
Day 0 and Day 1
1. Stay at Mifuki Inn
2. Half Day Tour at Cu Chi Tunnels, with stop over at Agent Orange victims workshop
3. Drop off at the War Remnants Museum
4. Walk to the Reunification Palace
5. Walk to the Notre Dame Cathedral
7. Walk to the Saigon Opera House
8. Enjoy the scenery
9. Dinner at Com Tam Cali.

Day 2:
3. Eating Bahn Mi
enjoying a leisurely walk in the city

Cu Chi Tunnel Day Tour

Sep 23, 2014

The visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels was the highlight of our visit to Ho Chi Minh city.  I love the movie Platoon, so you can imagine my fascination with all things related to the Vietnam War. And the visit to the tunnels is a must!
After that short visit to the showroom, we were dropped off in this jungle.  The first order of business was an orientation in one of the huts on what the tunnels looked like, how life was like living in the tunnels, how they get around, how they killed, how they cooked food and basically, how they really lived in the tunnels during the war. And then we started walking along the forest to see the actual tunnels and the traps that Vietcongs made against their enemies.
The above are just samples of what terror lay under a bush, or a hastily covered trap! I think you have seen enough of them in movies, and yup, they were real!
The guide above is showing us how the soldiers used the tunnels to escape from their enemies. Of course, Vietnamese  like us Filipinos are small and they can easily fit those tunnels but can you imagine a full grown Caucasian going inside that hole?
These are actual tanks, bombs and landmines taken in the forest, and a scene depicting how they re-use bombs.
Yep, we went inside one of the tunnels, but had to go out immediately a few meters after because it was so tiny and we were already having problems breathing! Can you imagine living under these?
A visit to to the Cu Chi Tunnel is indeed a must, to see how ingenuity beats technology every time, and how nobody really wins in a war.

Next stop: The War Remnants Museum

Vietnam Day 1: Agent Orange Victims Workshop

Sep 22, 2014

After a full night sleep at Mifuki Inn and that heavy breakfast, we were ready for a full day tour of Ho Chi Minh City. We already bought our tickets for the half day tour at the Cu Chi Tunnel from the booking office in our hotel lobby for $9 each.  It was inclusive of a hotel pick-up, water and drop off at the city. 

The bustling city came alive with motorcycles everywhere! But unlike in the Philippines, they do not seem to be always in a hurry swerving right and left, and they just stay on their lanes, not going more that 40kph!
Our first stop was at a workshop for victims of Agent Orange, a herbicide that was used as chemical weapon during the Vietnam war.  There were only a few workers doing the craft, and then further towards the room was a huge display center of artworks and souvenir items.  Unfortunately it was too pricey for us so we didn't buy any.
Next stop: The Cu Chi Tunnels.

Breakfast Buffet at Mifuki Inn

Sep 19, 2014

Did I say we paid only around P1,200 per night for our room in Mifuki Inn? But look at the breakfast selection that we enjoyed? It was buffet, and we had everything, hahaha!
Day 1
We got fat, hahaha! Of course you can only eat so much, but we had fun with the variety of choices that was available and so it was very enjoyable.  The breakfast was served at the rooftop of Mifuki Boutique so it was another reason to enjoy breakfast!
Day 2
So will I come back and stay at Mifuki Inn? Definitely!

Wednesday Happy Thoughts

Sep 18, 2014

Happiness is:
1. Danniel and Ishi are both Top 4! Danniel slipped one slot, but Ishi moved up so it was all good.
2. I finally went back to my ENT doctor again after 10 months. And it looks better than last year.  Had some tests done too.
3. I passed my hearing test. I thought I failed, hahaha.
4. The rainy dinner and dessert with the BFF's last Saturday. It was so good catching up with them.
5. Had some warts removed, thanks to our company's health card. I look horrible! Hahaha. Tiis-ganda mode on.
6. Done with 3 requirements out of 6 for one of my MBA subjest this semester.  I can already smell freedom!
7. Bought 2 massage vouchers for the hubby.  Hope to use it soon.
8. One huge microwable-home made cheese that lasted 5 days! A miracle it lasted that long, hahaha.
9. Peanut butter and coco jam. Yep, more carbs from bread.
10. Paying off some loans! Felt so good, hahahaha.

To see how this started and for credits on the image, click here.

Mifuki Inn, Ho Chi Minh City

I stayed at Mifuki Boutique when we went to Vietnam for a night in 2013 but since we were on a budget this time, we opted to stay at their cheaper sister hotel, the Mifuki Inn.  This was just beside the boutique, and it also comes with buffet breakfast at the boutique.  And it was just around P1,200 per night! What a great deal! And we can walk from the hotel to Ben Thanh Market anytime!
Mifuki Inn
The room was small, and the shower room adequate.  There was a small TV and wifi access too so it was actually more than enough.  The room below was our room at Mifuki Boutique and there was a bath tub, where  I stayed until I almost fell asleep.
Mifuki Boutique
But we had a very nice stay at Mifuki Inn despite the very small and very slow elevator.  But it was worth it, with the amount of breakfast we enjoyed on our stay!

Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh

Sep 17, 2014

Travel from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh took us another 6 hours.  This time, we were in Mekong Express so we had a comfortable travel.  There was an English-speaking conductor, we had snacks on the bus, and we had a 30-minute stop over where we had some noodles.  We were dropped off on the bus stop and we were once again lost on how to find our way to Mifuki Inn.  We were supposed to walk and I had a map printed, but nobody could give us the proper direction on which way to take so we ended up riding a taxi for only $3 for the six of us.
I already stayed at Mifuki Boutique when I went here with office friends but since we were on a budget, we opted to stay at Mifuki Inn for almost half the price.  Then we went out in search of dinner and some money exchange.  We also booked our Cu Chi Tunnel tour for the next morning with the booking office in the hotel lobby.  It was super efficient, and then we were ready for bed, eager for our first day in Vietnam!

Lunch at Kabbas, Phnom Penh

Sep 16, 2014

After a quick tour of the National Museum, we raced back to our hotel and brought our bags down, waiting for the pick-up from Mekong Express.  We had a little time to spare so we had a quick lunch at Kabbas restaurant, which was also just along our hotel's street.  And what a surprise!
We ordered these simple dishes and were pleasantly surprised because they were so good and the service was great. The owner even gave us some sugarcane and rice on bamboo to nibble on while waiting for our food to be served. The walls of the restaurants were lined with wonderful comments from guests all over the world saying how they loved the food!
Our friend Paul left his phone charging on our lunch table and he had to race back for it from the bus station with my husband.  The phone was just where he left it! The bus was about to leave and it was such a nerve-wracking experience as the conductor was asking us to call them or else the bus will leave and the bus was almost at the gate when they came back running! Hahaha, it was such a memorable part of the trip! And kudos for the restaurant staff for their honesty.

Next post: Traveling to Ho Chi Minh

National Museum, Phnom Penh

Sep 15, 2014

After the visit to the Killing Fields, Toul Sleng Genocide Musuem and the quick stopover for picture taking in front of the Royale Palace, we bid goodbye to out tuktuk driver in front of the National Museum, which is really just a block away from our hotel.  So we did a quick tour of the National Museum.
The picture above was taken during my visit in 2013 with office friends.  This was taken inside the museum grounds, where once can feel so relaxed and refreshed just looking the koi pond.
We were not allowed to take photos inside, but the exhibit were wonderful.  These were artifacts taken from all the temples of the Angkor Wat, some placed in the museum for safekeeping, and the replicas left in the temples.  
This is really a must-visit after a trip to Angkor Wat.  Too bad we only have limited time at the museum since we had to catch the bus to Ho Chi Minh.

A Gustatory Delight at Seven Corners

Sep 13, 2014

Last Tuesday, I and 9 of my office mates went to lunch.  Since we love eating and dieting (usually at the same time) and because BDO was having a promo, we chose Seven Corners in Crowne Plaza in Ortigas.  For the 50% discounted price of P828.70, below are the gustatory delights that I enjoyed, in plate order. 
We were there to open the buffet since the hotel was just beside our building.We headed straight for the appetizers, put down our plate and went to have some lamb chops grilled medium.  While it was cooking, I went to get some biryani rice and this beef dish (I forgot the name). With all three plates in front of me, I digged in.  And I was in heaven! 
When the three plates were cleared, I went to the sushi station and had one of each, and some tuna. Not in the picture are about 8 pieces of shrimp that I also had grilled a little. Then I wen back some more to try and taste some dishes that looked good to my already sated palate. 
And then there was dessert.  I had a total of 6 scoops of ice cream, and the avocado was the best.  The chocolate mousse only looked good, but I didn't finish it.  The macaroons was too sweet, and yeah, I was nibbling on some cheese as well.

So, was it worth it? Oh yeah! This was not the first time since I love Seven Corners (especially when free, hehehe).  And I know I will eat here again soon!

Royale Palace and Silver Pagoda, Phnom Penh

Sep 12, 2014

After that solemn visit to the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum we went back to the Quay area to visit the National Museum.  We passed by the Independence Monument and some other notable buildings in the city. But we actually didn't have time to go inside and visit the Royale Palace as we had to be in the bus bound to Vietnam by 1pm.
So we just took pictures from afar, after we asked our tuktuk to just stop on the side of the road.  It was such a beautiful sight and there were so many birds flying around.  It was so beautiful! 
But since I have been inside the Palace the year before, let me just share you some of the photos.  The courtyard was huge! And there were lots of  buildings inside.  We were not allowed inside some of the buildings, but we were allowed inside one which was a museum but taking pictures was not allowed. By the way, there is a dress code inside the grounds, no shorts and sleeveless for the ladies.  If you notice below, we rented that brown pants I was wearing that day for $3. 
There were so many Pagodas inside but the Silver  Pagoda stands out among the rest.  It was tall, as you can see in my photos.  And there were so many beautiful things inside the palace grounds, it was really such a feast to the eyes! 
Too bad my friends didn't get to see the inside of the Palace. But hey, that's one more reason to go back!

Next stop: The National Museum.


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