DEXNote: Plant a tree, write a book, have a son and then some (my long overdue year-end post)
2011 is here (you're 11 days late Dex!) and before I lay down my plans for it, I think it is but imperative to recap 2010 (because whoever said don't ever look back is missing a lot, lol) and assess my accomplishments and failures the previous year, and check where am I now with my life-goals.

The first half of 2010 was not so exciting (personally, but  politically it was because we just had the first automated election and a new leader after more or less a decade) Reading my mid-year post saddens me; I still remember how I was so frustrated and disappointed with myself mostly for the things that's not happening. It felt like I am just existing and not living (whoah! sometimes I get emotional you know, lol) But the second half was a blast! So, I can say that generally 2010 was better than 2009. No, better is an understatement. It actually kicked 2009's ass! How about that?

Dear Prudence

For the record, 2010 was my most spendful (if there's such a word) year. Blame HSBC for granting my request for a highfalutin credit limit when they offered me a second card without the hassle of submitting any documents and cajoled it more by increasing it after six months. Lol. Of course, I'm the one to blame for my financial immaturity - for abusing the reward yourself once in a while to relieve stress advice and for pretending to not know the difference of wants and needs. But hey, I didn't regret acquiring the things I bought, the travels, the pampering time, the debts loaned (ok, I regret some) and whatnots. What I regret was  not questioning the rationale for a major purchase and not having much self-control .
DEXtination : Cebu City

Cebu is like the ultimate destination for me in the Philippines (as well as Davao) because of its richness in history and culture (based on Civic and Culture subject in elementary, lol). So when my officemates asked me last February if I wanted to join their trip on November, without hesitation I said yes. :)

Here's the itinerary receipt. Btw, we were 14 in this trip (originally 16; FIELD TRIP daw accdg to Nicole). My officemates only booked 2 with check-in baggage and the rest goLite. I suggest that if you're goin in a trip, just book with check-in baggage especially on the way back so you'll have room for pasalubongs; besides it'll only cost you a hundred compared to four hundred if you decide there and then.

itinerary receipt

We arrived at Mactan International Airport at around 9:15 am, just on time. There were some who offered van to bring us to our hotel but we refused. We have a companion who's been to Cebu before and knows how it'll cost us if we ride a metered taxi instead.

We then grouped ourselves and rode a taxi going to Verbena Capitol Suites; it only costs us 77pesos. :)

Verbena is just a 2-star hotel so it's pretty cheap but decent and clean (we got the barkada package which costs us only 340/day/pax which includes brakfast). In addition, it's also near Robinson's Place and Crown Regency. :)

Since check-in time is not until 2pm, we decided to leave our things in the hotel and have lunch. We decided to have it at CnT Lechon (we're supposed to have dinner here but since we're already starving and it's just near the hotel).

CnT Lechon!

CnT Lechon is tasty, tender and juicy. It's good without sauce. I expected more based on reviews and hearsay, but I'm pretty much satisfied. (CnT is the inital of the owner/s) 

tasty  + tender + juicy = yum! :)
DEXtination : Ho Chi Minh City
Day 3 (PM) : Meet Saigon

After our Cu Chi tunnel tour, we (Lauren and I) were dropped off in War Remnants Museum to wait for our Ho Chi Mihn City tour coordinator. The museum was not part of the tour, so I decided to go inside and asked our tour coordinator to wait for me. I paid 15,000 dong for the entrance fee.

War Remnants Museum

The museum houses different artifacts, photographs and pictures documenting American war crimes

Vietnam map
Such documents illustrate the killing of civilians, torturing of prisoners and setting some places in fire.

Planes tanks, bombs and helicopters are also on display.

DEXtination : Cu Chi Tunnel
Day 3 (AM) : A fragment of light at the end of the Tunnel

I was excited about this day because this will be the part of the trip where I'll be just by myself. Don't get me wrong, it's always nice to have friends along and I definitely enjoy Roch's company but there's something about being alone and exploring the world alone that thrills me. ^_^

I could still taste the Pho I had the previous night but I still chose Vietnamese noodles for breakfast - for comparison (besides, I already tried their baguette). Of course, Pho 24's noodles was better but Orient's was also tasty. Nomnomnom.

vietnamese noodles + coffee + banana

After breakfast, I checked out of the hotel and again left my things in their storage. I went to the tour coordinator's office and waited for the bus going to the Cu Chi Tunnel. As I was waiting, I met Lauren (from U.K.) who's also going to see the tunnel.

We talked about the places we visited the previous days and our experience so far. Surprisingly, she's nice and friendly and pretty too. I asked if I can take a picture of her but she refused. (Actually, she granted me one pic but it's in my iPod's contact list and I still don't know how to retrieve it as a separate file.)

our bus

The bus arrived at around 8:20 am (kinda late) and we (Lauren and I) joined a group of tourist from other travel agencies/coordinators. We met Sir Lim, our tour guide. He's a seasoned guide and has a first hand experience of the war. He talked a little bit about Vietnam then and now. Very informative indeed. :)

meet Sir Lim, our Cu Chi Tunnel tour guide
What caught my attention was when he mentioned about statistics regarding Saigon and motorbikes. Did I already mentioned that Saigon is a motorbike country? If in Manila, jeepneys are the king of the road, in Saigon it's motorbikes.

DEXtionary : OctoVironmental-Fest
October is ATS' environment awareness month ergo OctoVironmental-fest. Our company organized symposium and other activities to help save the planet in our own little way; included in these activities are joining the 10.10.10 Run for Pasig River and tree planting in Makban Geothemal Plant in Bay. Laguna. And guess what? I participated. :)

10.10.10 Run for Pasig River

a beautiful day to save lives

Let me be mushy and start this with a McDreamy quote: It's a beautiful day to save lives. Let's have some fun.

This was exactly what I felt when I woke up the dawn of 10.10.10. Well obviously I'm not a runner or a fitness buff and I don't think you can consider me an environmentalist but I felt excitement and hope and a tap on my shoulder that I should be doing this kind of activities for a better me and a better environment.

SuperFerry supports 10.10.10 Run for Pasig River


Day 2 : Buddha-fest in a dragon fruit land

I intentionally woke-up at around 5AM so I can go out to the beach and witness the sunrise. But I remember we were in the south of Vietnam so the sun will not rise in our side of the sea.
i missed the sunrise
As I was waiting for Roch to get ready, I strolled around the beach and the resort. The beach is just so-so (definitely, the beaches in the Philippines are way better), in fact, I didn't see any tourist swimming in our entire stay. But then, the sound of the waves, the sand in my feet and the soft breeze brought by the air in my skin made me calm and at peace. 
very calm sea

conservative wave
fishermen pulling the net

growth & DK - remember that subject in trigonometry? do the math.
 At 6:30 AM, we went to the resort's resto to have breakfast even though the indicated time in the coupon is 7-9 AM. When we arrived, they're still preparing the buffet (whoa! I love buffets!) and only allowed us to eat when they finished. We were worried because our companion to this day's tour will pick us up at 7AM.

bread toast

noodles - i thought it was coconut something

baguette as usual

dragon fruit
this is what i got - fried rice, fried noodles, toast, egg, puto, soup and wintermelon juice (I thought it's pandan juice)
After breakfast, we headed to the reception and found Mr. Sang (our companion for the trip) waiting for us. He  said that this day we'll be going to TaCu mountain to see the pagoda, a dragon fruit plantation, a supermarket and Cham Tower. Yey! I'm excited!

DEXtination : MUI NE
When Roch - my college friend based in Vietnam, mentioned that she will be coming home this October for good, out of spontaneity I thought of visiting her just before she comes back. I invited our other blockmate and a couple of friends but to no avail. Even so, I still booked myself a flight because I really felt a need to have a vacation, a time to reflect and to have fun. And I think I deserve it. Besides, the CebuPac's promo rate is pretty cheap. :) Also, by doing this I'll be able to cross out two entries from my bucket list: to travel abroad (I'll be more specific with my succeeding entries; and yes, this is my first time out of the country) and to travel alone (well not exactly).

Meet Roch. :)
I had no plans of thoroughly researching about Vietnam, our accommodations and itinerary because I thought Roch - being there for almost 2 years, already knows the best and at the same time affordable places, food and activities to try. Sure she did, but I realized that I don't wanna be clueless and it's still good for me to know a little about the country I'm gonna visit.

As I was googling, I was surprised when I learned that one of my favorite blogger - Chyng, went to Vietnam last July as part of her backpacking SEA adventure. Whoa! Her post gave me a clearer view of what to expect. Her experience and tips helped me a lot deciding on our itinerary. Thanks Chyng! (I hope she'll be able to read this.) What more surprised me was when another favorite blogger - Sheena, also went to Vietnam last August. Hmmm.. it seems everybody is going to the same place. And it made me more excited! The picture of the yellow sand dunes she posted on her blog made me look  forward to experience it.

I thought these blogs were signs that I made a right decision. I was a little bit hesitant and guilty when I booked the flight because of the expenses at the expense of my credit card bills! Lol.

Aside from reading blogs and forums, I didn't have much preparation.
my CebuPac's itinerary receipt
iConfess : When I booked this, I thought I'll still be in Saigon on Sep 28 AM and my departure is not until 1:20 PM. I just realized that it's actually 1:20 AM when we're finalizing our itinerary. Yeah I know, how stupid of me. Hehe.

Btw, there's an hour time difference between Vietnam and the Philippines so don't wonder if you noticed in my itinerary receipt that it looks like going to Saigon is shorter than going back to Manila.

So, all my bags are packed and I'm now ready to go. :)

  • DEXpicable Me

    DEXpicable Me
    i always wanted to write. i want to voice out my opinion on issues that interest me. i wanna chit-chat about tv series i'm hooked and music in my playlist. i want to talk about math and politics; culture and literature. i want to share my story and be relevant. and with this labyrinth as a medium, i'm making myself vulnerable by letting you in to my life. it's up to you to depict it. you may see it differently. you may be lost. but in this maze, there is only one way out and i hope you find it.