2011, the year that was

I firmly believe in the saying that you never regret the things you did, only the things you didn’t do. So, I’ll face the coming year with all the learnings from the good and the bad of 2011. What happened? Well, it was one hell of a ride.

This year, I turned 25. I got crazy, I got thrilled, I felt lost, had some lows, but also unbelievable highs.

This year, I found a new love, traveling. The wanderlust in me was born.

Experienced CDO’s rafting (God bless my kababayans there)

Saw the picturesque Camiguin

Ate the world’s best Guimaras’ mangoes

Enthralled by the Ruins of Negros

Received the warm smiles of Bacolod

Pigged-out on Cebu Lechon

Saw a tarsier up close in Bohol

Durian (ice cream) in Davao (The actual fruit, I still, cannot.)

Conquered my claustrophobia going through Cu Chi Tunnel

Got lost in translation in Vietnam

Food tripping in Singapore

Now, I think I’m addicted to it. The joy is still incomparable and the experience is unlike any other. So yeah, will continue this quest and conquer the world up to where my pocket can take me. 🙂

This year, I rekindled my love affair with books. Happy to find solace in the words of Picoult, Giffin and Murakami. Albom, after all these years, is still a good and quick read. 

This year, I got a little lax with work. My zest pretty much waned. I got so distracted with so many things and most times, it felt so routinary. Though my superiors would still give me a pat on the back, I knew deep inside, this ain’t the best I can be. Mediocrity lulled the stellar in me.

This year, my love life went from steady to bumpy to steady in nauseous interval. There were times that I’d think in silence, what the hell am I doing here? But the part of me that loves this person to bits, who knows that even if he sings Firework the moment he wakes up, that he drives me nuts yet I’m still crazy in love, would always win.

This year, I realized that I’ve become more selective of the friends I make and the ones I keep. It’s not about having the most number but having those that you can genuinely laugh with and be your own true self. This is odd though, since I didn’t go through any friendship trauma like others probably did.

This year, the past resurfaced in so many ways. I still feel like I’m groping in the dark. In 2012, I hope to finally be able to see some light to carry on.

This year, I saw my sister’s marriage crumble and rise again. One of the reasons that marriage scares the shit out of me.

This year, my biggest responsibility is taking toll. There are times that I’d be more than willing to give but there are also moments when the weak human in me gets me. Why aren’t we like this, why aren’t we like that? Yet, my parents are the most important people in my life and I know that I’ll do anything just to make them happy.

This year, I missed my relationship with God. The girl that prays every night, goes to Church every Sunday fell a little astray. Mind you, the only times I heard mass were on weddings, baptisms and funerals. Wait, do baptisms count?

Anyway, for 2012, I wish to be a better me.

For 2012, I hope for a better world.

Cheers to a new year! 🙂

Feels like a Queen at 25!

Having great family and friends make birthdays the best time of the year!

Facebook was reminding me, in case I forget that it’s my birthday.

Thank you Twitter friends!

Oh yes, Joe D Mango greeted me on air sa Love Notes. Feeling ko 1995 ulit. 🙂

Then Coach Jim who I’ve been openly secretly crushing (labo) called me up and greeted me! Well of course, pakana of my Biggest Loser friend, bes Joy Siy 🙂

A little e-mail from my DDB Family

Something inspirational from Virtual Tourist

Thank you everyone! 🙂

Happy 25th to me!

XOXO,

Eunice

Off the beaten track: Vietnam!

A girl can dream, right? Once in a faraway island, we said, “Let’s do this annually” and tadaa, we did. And it keeps getting better and better.

Vietnam, why the choice? I dunno, I guess we just wanted to be different. We wanted to go to the road less traveled by. Since we weren’t a bunch of girly-girls and shopping would just be too costly, we embarked on a cultural trip to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

The original plan was to cross the border and go to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat. Little did we know that it will take us 12 hours to get there and that will consume so much of our trip. With that, we’ve decided to make the best out of Vietnam.

So our little adventure, well, our first out of the country trip as a group went on something like this. And yeah, I will try to remember in the most accurate way possible.

Touchdown:

We arrived in Ho Chi Minh via Tan Son Nhat International Airport Terminal 2. It’s 30 minutes to an hour away from the city proper, District 1.

We exchanged our US Dollars to Vietnamese Dong in the airport just to be sure. Hooray, I got 3 Million Dong right after! 🙂

From our research, it’s been said to be careful of cab drivers who’ll try to scam you. However, arriving in a foreign land at 1am in a group of 4 girls, we pretty had no choice but to hop on to the first cab we saw. So, imagine our horror when we were charged 150,000 VND per person instead of 150,000 VND for all of us! 

Going Around:

Go for the trusted ones: VinaSun (yellow) or MaiLinh (green) but be very careful too. I’ve seen in forums that these cab names are already being faked. My oh my!

Accommodation:

We chose a hostel in Pham Ngu Lao, The backpacker’s haven which is in District 1. It’s very accessible and the rates are so cheap! It’s pretty decent if you don’t mind the view, well, it’s sorta reminiscent of Malate or Ermita, Manila 🙂  We stayed at Kim’s Place Hostel located at 47 Do Quang Dau St. District 1 HCMC. You can book in advance by e-mailing the owner at okimtuan2000@yahoo.com or contacting them via: 0904534474.

We got there at around 2am and the caretaker, Lin, was already sleeping. As in sleeping in the lobby. Hahaha! At first, we couldn’t understand her, all we can pick up was that her boss left?! Then, she asked for our passports. (This is a protocol in all hotels, accommodations, I think). On our 1st night, we stayed in a dorm with a solo backpacker.

Anyway, we asked Lin to book our tours the following morning. Since most of the attractions are far from HCM, it’s hard to do it yourself hence the need for a guided tour.

Day 1: Cu Chi Tunnel, CaoDai Temple and Ben Thanh Market

Breakfast was consistent: Bread, Cheese, Peanut Butter, Jam, Viet Coffee and Banana 🙂

Cu Chi Tunnel is 70 km from Ho Chi Minh City in the Northwest. A famous battleground in the Vietnam War. There are some openings that tourists can actually dig themselves to. So that’s me, trying it out.

That’s Gwen who needed a little help going up. Thanks to the strong hands of our Romanian friend. (Oh by the way, if you see the back of his shirt, that’s a Philippine map right there. He toured the Philippines for a month I think. :))

That’s us trying to be cultured. Haha!

Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh: Caodaism is the 3rd largest religion in Vietnam. CaoDai refers to the supreme palace where God reigns — that is the Kingdom of Heaven. 

United in prayer

Each color represents a religion. The noble effort of CaoDai is to unite all of humanity through a common vision of the Supreme Being, whatever our minor differences, in order to promote peace and understanding throughout the world

Our United Nations group from L-R: America, Romania (quit his job, travelled the world), Ireland (sci-fi writer/VO talent), Philippines (all 4 of us), Malaysia (Edwin sometimes Edward, tour guide for Chinese), Vietnam (Couple born in Vietnam), London (Mr. ex military turned Kite boarding instructor).



Ben Thanh Market home of the cheapest bargains. But prices can go a little higher if you’re a tourist who doesn’t know how to haggle.

On board the cylo after some serious shopping. The ride from Ben Thanh to Pham Ngu Lao coss 30,000VND ea.

For dinner, we had Pho and my favorite spring rolls with avocado shake. Yum yum!


To cap the night, Vietnam’s famous iced coffee. As in I got addicted to this! 10,000VND only! Drooooling!


Day 2: Mekong Delta Day Tour

It’s a 2-hour drive southwest of Ho Chi Minh City to the Mekong Delta which is known as the rice bowl of Vietnam. This river runs along the borders of six countries: China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. 

We passed by the Cai Be Floating Market where everyday, hundreds of boats sell fruits, vegetables and other products. To make it easier to know which boat to go to, a pole is on top of the boat where their product, a fruit for example, is sticked on. 

After this, we went to a Coconut Village to see how locals make use of every part of the coconut down to its husk. Sure is the tree of life!

Last stop was a Bee Farm where we had complimentary tea and honey plus some local fruit based products. 

The finale was our ride in a rowing boat with our dear Vietnamese lady.

Because you can’t be in Saigon without having some Saigon Beer.

Day 3: Ho Chi Minh City Tour

This was a really, really tiring day because we kept on walking and walking. The highlight of the City Tour, for a history freak like me, would have to be the War Remnants Museum. Sorry, but the more I felt less love for Uncle Sam. Divide and conquer, yet again.

War Remnants Museum contains countless artifacts, photographs, and pictures documenting American war crimes. 

The mangroves of Mekong Delta, destroyed.

Agent Orange is the U.S. military’s herbicidal warfare program against Vietnam which did not just affect the Viets but the American soldiers, which were passed on to their kids as well.

This sight makes my tummy cringe. So helpless. 😦

Their bombs

and their guns

Zombie-ehh-ehh

Chinese Temple



Reunification Palace is the site that marks the end of Vietnam War. A North Vietnamese tank crashed the gate of the palace signaling the fall of Saigon. 

The girls with Ho Chi Minh

Handicapped Handicrafts Village house the Vietnamese who were disabled due to Agent Orange herbicidal warfare program 


Notre Dame Cathedral 


Saigon Central Post Office designed and constructed by the famous architect Gustave Eiffel, no less.

We had to walk and walk and walk. I forgot the name of the mall we were looking for so when we noticed we were going in circles, we decided to hail a cab and just go back to Ben Thanh for some ‘pasalubong’ shopping.

I’m trying to remember my expenses in the most accurate way possible, so here you go:

Worth every hundred thousand dong hehe! 🙂 

On to the next mi ladies! 🙂