Photo Story: Hue, Vietnam

I originally wanted to make a DIY Hue guide but I realized I didn’t have enough information to write one. Haha. So I just decided to make this photo story! This is a collection of the pictures I took with my Sony a5000. And if you want to know why I chose to take the hard way going to Hue, you can read it here. Enjoy the pictures and hopefully you’ll get to visit Hue yourself someday ^^

Hai Van Pass
The first of our many stops. We set out around 6:00 AM, got some banh mi for breakfast and two-day water supply, then we were off to a 4-hour butt-wrenching motorbike ride. Let’s do this Hai Van Pass!
Hai Van Pass
The Peak. After more or less 30 minutes, we reached the peak of the pass where you can get some more supply, eat something, drink coffee, or gas up.
Hai Van Pass
Clouds all around. I also wanted to go up the platform where the three girls are standing but my short legs couldn’t guarantee a safe attempt so the plan was abandoned. It was a really nice spot though. A lot of couples have taken their prenup there.

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Buses and Thoughts

I hated bus rides… primarily because I had a terrible motion sickness when I was a kid, which, thankfully, is not as severe now as it was before (when I was in grade school, I would usually throw up even on jeepneys and taxis). And also because I get sooo bored.

Here in Da Nang, I take the bus all the time to and from work. It’s either that or I ride my motorbike, which I sometimes do when I don’t want to sit with other people (yes, introversion at best). And it’s only been recently that I started to somehow like being on the bus… especially the one going home. It just… gives me time to think. And I really love being left alone with my thoughts. Just to be able to slowly process them as I stare out the window… watching the setting sun paint the sky beautiful hues of orange and blue… ’til it disappears into the horizon, giving way to the street lights, the moon and the stars as they take their turn to give us light.

This is probably because I had to make a HUGE decision very recently (you’ll find out soon). And there were many times when God revealed things to me while I was on the bus home. I had to pray no one sees me as I let some tears slip because I couldn’t hold them back. And then very discreetly wiped them away like nothing happened. It looked exactly like some movie scenes where the protagonist cries on the bus. Drama queen. Ha! Makes me shake my head in embarrassment every time I remember.

I’m still not very fond of bus rides… especially the really long ones. But if God uses these travel moments to make me see the path ahead of me on a clearer, much better perspective… I’ll gladly hop on one.

Scooters, Mountain Passes and Faith

Scooters, Mountain Passes and Faith

Da Nang to Hue. 102 kilometers. 4 hours on scooter.

This is probably one of the craziest things I’ve ever done so far (if that even counts as crazy). I actually don’t do crazy very much. But when I do, I try make sure it’s going to be a story worth telling when I get old.

I was both excited and nervous the day we (I was with two other beautiful ladies. They were riding together and I was riding my scooter on my own) left for this old Imperial City. Excited because I would be riding my motorbike on my own through Hai Van Pass. And nervous because I would be riding my motorbike on my own through Hai Van Pass (yep).

Scooters, Mountain Passes and Faith
Surrounded by clouds.

Hai Van Pass was definitely challenging for a newbie rider like me. It is approximately 21-kilometer long and probably took us around 45 minutes to reach the end. That’s pretty slow I know but read the first sentence of this paragraph. And with it’s sudden turns and blind curves (and our occasional stops because my right hand was begging me to rest), we just couldn’t ride as fast as we wanted. A lot of my Vietnamese friends were actually telling me to find a male friend who I could ride with because the pass would be too dangerous and the 102-kilometer distance from Da Nang to Hue would just be too far for me. Or that we should just take the train and do easy. That’s when I realized they missed the whole point of my going there with my scooter. I didn’t want to do easy. I wanted to do life. So like what I usually do when I’ve already made up my mind – I didn’t listen. We all know that’s not a very good advice but some things you just gotta do. And I’m so I glad I did.

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Xin Chào!

Dragon Bridge, Da Nang
Dragon Bridge, Da Nang

안녕하세요!

¡Hola!

Hello!

Kamusta?

So far, these are the only greetings I actually know how to say and write. You’re probably wondering why I made Xin Chào as the title of my post. That’s because… *insert drum roll please* … I’m here in Vietnam! Yep! That’s right! I’ve actually been here for three months now 😀

I’m here in Da Nang specifically and life has been hectic since I came here. It is also here where I’ve faced some of the biggest challenges I’ve ever experienced in my entire 24 years of existence. But you know what? I love it. Challenges and all. I’m actually living the life. Not the one I’ve always wanted, but the one God wants me to have in this season.

Da Nang
Da Nang

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Birthday Getaway at Cabugan Adventure Resort

Cabugan Adventure Resort

[Update]

Last May 1st, I went back to Cabugan with some of my college friends for a mini class reunion. And because it was summer, there were more people and it was hotter compared to the first time I visited this place. It was nevertheless still an amazing trip. This time around, we got the 3 meals + accommodation + boating + bonfire + transportation package. Island hopping wasn’t included because they had to hire other bangkeros to accommodate the volume of guests during Summer. The food was great especially our dinner. We asked them if we could have it set up as boodle fight and they prepared everything for us complete with the banana leaves. We also requested some dishes which they gladly accommodate 🙂

+++

I’ve experienced the best birthday celebration I’ve ever had so far. I was on a gorgeous secluded island south of Guimaras with my parents and close friends. What more can I ask.

Cabugan Adventure Resort is slowly gaining popularity among local and foreign tourists alike. Who can blame them. The island was tranquil, beautiful and surrounded by clear blue waters. It felt like we were somewhere miles away from Iloilo, when in fact, we were only one hour away from the hustle and bustle of the City of Love.

We stayed on the island for 2 days and 1 night, and I can say that it was the best place I’ve ever been to in Guimaras. It was a weekend full of basketball free throws, embarrassing funny hammock episodes, lazy under-the-tree chats, late night heart-to-hearts, boating and bonfire. It was a weekend I wished would never end.

Cabugan Adventure Resort
View from the bonfire hill

I woke up at 4:30 am to get ready for the trip. Mama and I didn’t get much sleep because we stayed up late the previous night to prepare our baon. I think we finished cooking and packing around 2 am. We reached Ortiz port at 6:30 am, waited for my friends until 7:00 am, bought tickets, took the boat ride, arrived at Jordan wharf at 7:30 am, reached the mini dungkaan at 8:30 am, took a 3-minute boat ride to the island and finally set foot in Cabugan at 8:40 am.

The whole ride was quite tiring. Good thing we were welcomed by the cool and refreshing, though sometimes a bit too strong, breeze on the island. We decided to just spend the whole morning relaxing, chatting and playing.

Cabugan Adventure Resort
This contains the evidence of our fail hammock experience 😛

After lunch, we went boating a bit at the lake behind those cottages above. Then went island hopping at 3:00 pm. We were one bunch of uber excited, hyper-active kids at heart. Our two bangkeros couldn’t help but laugh because of our child-like enthusiasm. The whole afternoon was filled with squeals, fooling around, water-splashing and loud laughter. Everybody was in high spirits.

Cabugan Adventure Resort
On a deck at one of the island hopping sites

The island hopping lasts for two hours and I suggest you go the same time we did (if you’re going there) because the sun is no longer scorching and the water is already starting to come in, which makes it perfect for the last stop – the sandbar.

Cabugan Adventure Resort
Yes. We were THAT happy.

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Mag-aso Falls, Kabankalan City

Mag-aso Falls

After visiting the Ruins in Talisay, my friends and I went nature tripping at Mag-aso Falls the following day.

In my opinion, Mag-aso Falls is one of the hidden gems of Negros Occidental. Though it’s quite far from Bacolod, it is still one of the must-see places for nature lovers like me. Situated in Sitio Dug-anon, Barangay Oringao, Kabankalan City, Mag-aso Falls is a 2 to 3-hour bus+tricycle ride away from Bacolod.

How to go to Mag-aso Falls

Mag-aso Falls

From Bacolod, take the Ceres Tours bus with the signage Dumaguete-Mabinay. Inform the ticketing officer to drop you off at wet market in Barangay Oringao. After that, take a tricycle or a motorbike going to Mag-aso Falls. This 15-minute ride will be quite bumpy as some parts of the road aren’t fixed yet. And it honestly feels like a mini roller coaster ride with all its steep slopes.

Entrance fee to the Mag-aso Leisure Camp is at P50 each and small cottages are available at P200. Ours was P300 since it was a bit bigger and was separated from the other visitors. If you want to stay overnight, they have rooms at P1000 good for as many people as you can fit inside. Awesome for group outings, right? ^_^

Mag-aso Falls

When you get inside the camp, the first thing that will greet you is the very inviting swimming pool. But don’t jump in yet. Change into your swimming attire and follow the trail to the falls first. It was a breathtaking view. The water current when we went there was quite strong and the smoke-like effect that the water creates as it hits the natural pool below was beautiful. The water was cool and turquoise. The weather clear. It was a perfect day.

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Burning Love: The Ruins, Talisay City

The Ruins
The Ruins: The reminder of Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson’s burning love for his wife Maria Braga.

You never really visited Bacolod if you didn’t go to the most talked about house in the Philippines… well aside from Pinoy Big Brother’s Bahay ni Kuya, that is. As it is located just a few minutes outside the city, this tourist spot is very accessible to almost all tourists who visit Bacolod.

How to go to the Ruins

From SM City Bacolod, you can choose to either go there via taxi or jeepney.

Via Taxi

This is the easiest, fastest and most comfortable way to reach the Ruins. Just take a taxi outside SM (or any part of Bacolod) and voila! You are on your way! You have to be aware though that taxi drivers don’t use their meters when going outside the city. They will offer to take you there for P300. Don’t say yes. Turn on your haggling powers and try to bring it down to P200. If the driver doesn’t give in no matter what you do and you really want to take a taxi, try it at P250. If it still doesn’t work, don’t say anything and just turn your back.

This is better if you’re traveling with a group so you can split up the fare.

Via Jeepney + Tricycle

If you’re on a tighter budget, you can opt to ride a jeepney with the signage Bata or Libertad-Bata. Just tell the driver to drop you off the corner where you can take the tricycle going to the Ruins.

This is a better option if there are only two of you or if you’re alone.

Reminders!

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