Tag Archives: cave

Hanoi (Day 2: Halong Bay, Bia Hoi Corner)

For our second day in Hanoi, we booked a Halong Bay day tour in the Halong Phoenix Cruiser via Blue Dragon Tours. The voucher we purchased online cost us around USD $52.00 per person. Hotel pick-up and drop-off is included in the package.

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We were picked-up at around 8:30 am in a mini bus that will head straight to Halong City. Of course, the tour would not be complete without your usual tourist trap stopover.

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It was almost 2 pm when we arrived at the docks. Since we did some careful research on the junk we will be boarding, the Phoenix Cruiser did not disappoint and we got exactly what we booked for.

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We were lucky to be able to book a boat that is not fully occupied as I would have imagined a less enjoyable experience. Our guide, Hai, told us that the big group booked on our tour decided to take the overnight boat instead. We were only 7 in the group that day.

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As we cruised along the bay, you can already see the limestone formations a few minutes after departing the dock. The formations are similar to the ones I have seen in Coron, Palawan. In Halong Bay, you experience foggy cold weather as you cruise along the bay versus the summer island vibe in Coron. If you had to ask me which one is better, I would have to tell you to experience both.

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Our first stop was a floating village called Ba Hang. We moved to a smaller boat that was maneuvered by a female local. Though there were lots of tourists from other junk operators, Halong Bay still felt calm and quiet.

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The last stop of the tour was Thien Cung Cave. Comparing this cave to the one I visited in Sagada (Philippines), which was dark, damp and had bat guano everywhere, this cave is lighted and well-kept.

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The cave looks nice, especially in photos, but it looks too touristy for me at times. Then again, maybe the whole Halong Bay tour is. I still enjoyed it though!

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It was time to go back to Hanoi. One of our tourmates joined us after the trip. We decided to head to Bia Hoi Corner. You can locate this area along Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Street.

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The street is all lined-up with locals and tourists all seated beside each other in small stools. We decided to grab some cold bia hoi in one of the shops near the front. Apparently, not all shops sell this local beer.

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As the night passed, our group grew in to six people. That being two locals who recently attended a language school in Hanoi and were practicing their English as well as the peer of our tourmate who we were just talking about. Four different countries represented at our table.

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Time to rest after the shop ran out of bia hoi. Cheers!

Hanoi (Day 3: Imperial Citadel, Pho Bo, Egg Coffee, Legend Beer)

– The Tourist Pao

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Independence Day at Rizal (Philippines)

Ironically, the 12th of June marks the anniversary with my girlfriend. This year, we decided to head on a road trip around the greater Metro Manila particularly around Rizal province. We started by heading to Antipolo to try out 14 Four Cafe.

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The place is very artsy and has a laid-back atmosphere to it.  This weekend cafe doubles as a furniture store during weekdays. Luckily, it was a Friday during our visit which they were also open for dining. I highly recommend that you order their salad called The Local as well as their 14 Four Tapa and Cinnamon Bun Pancakes. I’m not a big fan of breakfast food but their pancakes are to die for!

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After our late lunch, our schedule was pretty much open as we did not plan any itinerary. This was definitely a first for us! Initially, we wanted to visit Daranak Falls but was hesitant because we did not bring the right attire.  Instead, we decided to head to Angono and visit the Petroglyphs. I tried to research online if the Petroglyphs was still under renovation but did not get much information. We still gave it a try and our luck somewhat panned out.

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Once you enter the gated entry point to the Petroglyphs, you feel like you have entered a different world. The roads heading up suddenly opened and you feel like you have escaped the chaotic hustle and bustle of Metro Manila. There were no structures for the most part and fire trees were abundant during this time of the year. For those of you who are familiar, this is also the entry towards Thunderbird Resorts Rizal.

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After a few minutes, you will shortly see a sign pointing to the famous site. We weren’t sure if it was open as we did not see anyone around. We did, however, see several people enter the tunnel which eventually led to the site. Since we were here already, we decided to head in as well.

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Though we were able to reach the site, we cannot go further in front of the rock carvings. I can barely see anything from afar. I guess this was still a good thing since the renovation would help preserve this endangered archaeological site. The Angono Petroglyphs is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site tentative list.

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Heading back, we stopped by several occasions for some photo ops. This is as good as it gets when you want a view overlooking Metro Manila.

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From Rizal, we had one last stop to visit a certain coffee shop in Marikina. To no avail, we could not locate the place even after circling around the vicinity several times. Locals were not familiar with the place as well. We ended up having dinner at a Japanese restaurant we found along one of the main streets in Marikina.

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Finally, we wrapped up our road trip at Craft Coffee Katipunan. A wonderful cafe located along Abada Street. Very chill and definitely the perfect spot to end our long day. I had some cold milk though…

– The Tourist Pao