Some Boring Update

So, I went to the mall. Big deal.

It kind of actually is. It’s the farthest I’ve traveled to since I came back from my last trip. Life has been hectic and so many changes happened after Vietnam that my brain have barely enough power at the end of each day.

But that is not the reason why it’s a big deal. I barely go to the mall and only if I have to. I don’t judge people who likes shopping or window shopping, going to the mall is just an activity that I try to avoid as much as possible. It’s on the same level as going to the dentist for a tooth extraction. It’s painful, tedious, and utterly boring.

I am the type of person who would take weeks to convince myself that I really must go. I plan everything in advance, from the time I would leave the house to which entrance I should go in, sequence of stores I will be going to and the side I would be exiting. I have everything planned out.

Sometimes, after agonizing for weeks and wasting a lot of hours and brain cells justifying to myself why I have to go to the mall, I’d find the tinniest excuse not to go. “It’s drizzling!”, “it’s gloomy, it’s going to rain…”or “I woke up at 930AM instead of 9…” and the ever reliable “the sun is out, it’s too hot to leave the house.”

I always find excuses not to go. I don’t go there to chill. If I want to chill I’d stay at home. Going to the mall is a chore. I go because I have no choice.

I only went because I’m going home this Thursday for my cousin’s wedding and I need some things. I have work from Monday until Thursday and I really don’t have the time to go. Today, Sunday, is the only day I can convince myself to move my ass and go.

It has to be Sunday at 10AM. It’s not for superstitious reasons. It’s just practical. There is no traffic, people will still be in church and the mall is almost empty until about lunch time when Sunday mass ends and people start trickling in. I figured, if I time it well and plan my route well, by the time the horde comes in I will be done with my errands and on my way out. Adios, humanity! I’m going back to my cave.

Today it went like this:

0900 – Start preparing
0945 – leave the house. (It’s a sunday, no traffic and it only takes 10-15mins by cab from my place)
1000 – mall opens, enter via east entrance nearest the shoe store to buy the suede cleaner I need for Friday
1010 – food court, quick breakfast; taking advantage of the fact that there’s hardly anyone there yet
1030 – Next store to buy tote bag for some things I need to brig home with me
1045 – Watsons for some toiletries
1100 – wander around the Korean thrift store for some other things I can buy
1125 – on the way to the west entrance/exit only stopping for a bit to check my list and make sure I got everything I need.
1145 – back home typing this

In and out. Just as planned. Perfect.

Insta-Blog: That day when I was almost left behind at the airport

Booking for my return flight was something I planned carefully. I made sure to get the early flight from Da Nang to Saigon and a late flight from Saigon to the Philippines so I can have a whole day to explore a bit of Saigon. It was a not-so epic fail.

The moment we landed in Saigon, I felt really sick. You know that feeling when you have a really bad headache and it feels like your head is stuffed with cotton and you feel like you are going to have a fever but your temperature is ok? Yeah, that feeling.

I tried to explore and see bits of the city but I only managed to see the Pagoda and the park because I was getting worst. I ended up at the Phổ Quang Pagoda and sat there for a bit then walked back to Parkson CT plaza and stayed at the food court until 5PM.

By the time I went back to the airport my body is clamoring for rest. I did web check-in for an easier process but since the gate details was not included, I had no choice but to go through the check-in counter first.

Now this is what I don’t understand. Airlines always advise us that for international flight, be at the airport at least 4hrs before the flight. Well, the line was getting longer but he counter did not open until 10PM. I would have loved to go directly inside without going through the counter but there is no kiosk to print my boarding pass and again, the gate is not indicated. I feel so much frustration seeing the line at the immigration side getting longer and longer as time goes on.

After successfully getting my boarding pass and clearing immigration, I went directly to the gate and fell asleep. Now there were two airlines serviced in the same gate assigned to us, Vietnam Airlines and Cebu Pacific.

I must have been more exhausted than I thought because I remembered waking up and seeing people queue up for the flight to Osaka and thinking about how cute the two Japanese kids are who are playing in front of me. The next thing I know a woman was waking me up and asking me if I am Filipino. I groggily said yes, she asked me in Tagalog if I’m there for the flight to Manila and I said yes. I looked around and all the other passengers are leaving, I must have looked confused because she told me, “our assigned gate is moved to another one” and promptly guided me to the next gate. If not for that kind woman I would have been left behind in Saigon. I never even got to ask her name.

….

I slept throughout the flight and only woke up after the passengers were already taking their bags out. I hastily took mine and groggily made my way to the immigration counter.

Now at this point I am so glad I was not held up for further investigation because I must have looked really suspicious. The immigration officer asked me what airline I took and from which city and it took me a while to answer correctly. I was honestly so confused which airline because I had to use 3 on the return flight. Luckily the officer just stamped my passport and I am off my way. Still groggy and still bound to do some stupid things.

I went directly to the arrival hall to get to the departure area for my flight back to Cebu. At least that is what I was supposed to do. Instead, I stood there at the arrival hall and tried (and obviously and expectedly failed) to get a Grab taxi home. I had the audacity to feel irritated—first to my phone thinking that it failed to read my correct location, then to my mobile service provider for being slow and then to Grab taxi for telling me that my desired destination is not available.


It honestly took me a while to remember that I landed in NAIA and not in Mactan. Feeling so stupid but determined to get home, I went to the departures area and confidently showed the guard by boarding pass and promptly told by said guard that I actually have to go to terminal 4 because I’m flying Air Asia and domestic flights for AirAsia are in terminal 4.

After so much hardship, I finally got home and now feeling so much better. Going back to work later today. Ugh, I hope I survive. 😂😂

Solo Travel Day 8: Good bye Da Nang, Hello Saigon!

06:32AM Da Nang International Airport, Domestic Terminal

It was a fun seven days of adventure. It was an amazing experience despite some set backs.

True, I was not able to visit Huê but I see it as an opportunity for me to go back in the future. True, I had a somehow bad experience in Tam Ky but 99% of my stay in Da Nang has been nothing but awesome.

The other day, while I was eating, a Vietnamese grandmother helped me. I hard time holding chopsticks and had to use the spoon – feeling so uncultured at that moment and having a difficult time removing the skin from the fish I bought. I was picking on the food and hardly eating but this grandma came over, removed the skin from my fish and proceeded to put the meat on my plate so I can eat properly.

That same afternoon I was having a hard time crossing the street and a Vietnamese man kindly helped me cross the street. There were language barrier problems but people are mostly helpful and doing their best to communicate with me.

While I was at the Con Market, a kind lady – despite having a hard time communicating with me – helped me made sure my bag is secured and so is my wallet.

I was expecting people to take advantage of me, a lone female traveler – who is unfamiliar with their currency. They could have easily taken advantage but they were so kind to teach me the correct bills to use.

There were other of course who would attempt to take advantage but that is human greed, it does not discriminate. Even in my own country, we have plenty of those people around.

I have said this once but I will say it again, I do not ever regret choosing Da Nang. I’m glad I chose to go there.

12:32PM Công Viên Hoàng Văn Thụ, Ho Chi Minh City

I arrived in Saigon 2hrs ago. I decided to walk from the airport to this park. I was planning to tour the city but I feel so tired. I slept late last night and woke up very early for the flight.

I also did not want to go far because I don’t want to withdraw additional money. Due to some miscalculations on my part, I only had VND400.000 cash left on my and don’t really want to withdraw more because I am leaving Vietnam and I cannot really use Dong anywhere else. It also costs a lot to withdraw money at the ATM due to the international fee and I don’t really want to pay that for an extra VND200.000.

I

left my heavy backpack at the locker in the airport and they charged me VND200.000 for that. I bought myself coffee at the airport in Da Nang and coconut juice and water in the park so now I only have about VND20k left. 🤦😂

I have to go back to the airport at 6PM to avoid paying additional fee and will probably sulk there until my flight at 1AM.

Well, depending on what happens next I might be forced to withdraw some funds for a meal at the airport. I actually still have some ringgit left so I am not sure if I can exchange that. 😂

Anyway, I will hang out here for a bit and then walk around again. Or I’ll just probably walk back to the airport. I mean, it’s not that far. 😂

A cup of tea and a bucket of anxiety

12:03PM. As I write this I am in a coffee shop in Tam Ky, near a bus stop and near a couple of policemen. I feel a bit safe but I don’t think I can breathe well until I am back in Da Nang.

Here’s what happened:

I got off the bus and decided to walk to that lake thing I saw in Google Maps. I asked the bus conductor to tell me what time is the last bus for Da Nang. After that, a guy- around mid-20s to early 30s- came up to me. He was speaking in Vietnamese and pointing to me and touching my arm. I thought he’s a motorcycle guy who wants me to hire him. I said no and walked away.

He kept following me and still trying to touch my arm. I kept saying no and kept walking faster. I stopped for a bit to try and get a Grab but couldn’t. I looked around and did not see him so I thought, I was right. He was a motorcycle driver trying to get a customer. There was a big box-like thing along the path (probably for garbage) and when I passed by there, I saw him sitting behind it. He looked away when I passed and I did not really mind it.

A few minutes after, I stopped a bit and looked down the street. When I looked behind me, he was there again just a few meters behind me. I kept walking and after about a kilometer, I looked back and he was there again.

At this point I got scared. This is a nightmare scenario for a solo female traveler. I wanted to take a photo or video but I was scared. I messaged my friends to let them know. Meanwhile, I kept walking faster (almost a run) and saw a cross street. I saw in Google Maps that the street across has a lot of coffee shops so before all the vehicles could even stop, I raised my arm and crossed the street, turned the nearest curb and ran inside one of the shops.

I managed to take some photos before I saw him again.

Let me tell you how scared I was. I ran inside this shop not knowing what it is exactly they sell. All I know is that, it is a place where there are a lot of people inside. The waitress asked me something in Vietnamese when I entered, I said yes without knowing what she asked me. I only found out it is a tea shop after they served the tea. I don’t even drink tea.

I stayed there for a while until I felt calmer and looked outside. I did not see the guy but I was scared so I went out but still on high alert. I kept walking and then a few blocks after, I saw him again. This time on a motorcycle. He looked at me and about to intercept but there were 2 policemen across the street. I hastily crossed and stood there for a bit. Then walked fast again to the nearest coffee shop.

And this is where I am now. I think this place is still beautiful. I would love to see more of it but I’m going back to Da Nang after I eat.

p.s. I may be wrong and this may just be a product of a paranoid mind. It is probably nothing i am jus over-reacting. I am not discouraging anyone to visit this place because i truly find it interesting. I just needed to share because I don’t know what to do with how I feel. Thank you, 😘.

Someone is following me and I don’t mean online.

05:48AM, Ga Da Nang

I arrived less than an hour too early for the train. I am probably the foreigner here right now, I expect more will arrive in a short while.

I guess it’s time for some reflections.

08:17AM On board the bus to Tam Ky

Self reflection did not happen. The train to Huê was late. I decided to walk to that shipyard I saw days ago. As I was about to cross the street (after walking 2Kms), I saw the bus to Tam Ky, fare is only VND30K, I hopped on board. I don’t know what’s in Tam Ky but i’m sure i will find out. 😂

10:49AM. I arrived less than 30mins ago in Tam Ky and had the scariest moment.

A guy kept on following me from the bus terminal. He stops when I stop and then would wait for a moment and follow me again when I start walking again.

I crossed a busy street, reached a corner, ran and went inside a coffee shop. I seemed to have lost him but i am scared.

*i’ll polish this when i dont feel so scared anymore.*

Solo Travel Day 7: Off to Huê

sunrise my khe beach da nang vietnam

04:22AM, Da Nang, Vietnam.

I woke up very early today because the train leaves at 06:30AM. I wanted to get a much earlier train but apparently there is none. That’s okay though, Huê is only over 2hrs away from Da Nang. I hope there is not a lot of people in the train. I took a soft seat in the AC section and asked the lady in the counter to put me in the window seat. It’s not only about seeing the view but I get motion sickness if I am not by the window.

I hope she did put me there. 🙏

Anyway, today is my last day in this part of Vietnam. Tomorrow, I leave early for Ho Chi Minh and then fly back to the Philippines at 1AM. I’d still have one more day in Vietnam and I plan to go around Saigon the whole day.

Anyway, I hope you have a great day!

Solo Travel Day 7: You will get exhausted traveling with me

I walk a lot. When I am at home, I prefer to stay in my bed and only get up when I have tl eat. My farthest destination is either the fridge or the toilet. 😂

But when I am traveling, I am somehow transformed into a different person. I walk around a lot. If it is less than an hour walk, I’d most likely walk to get there.

Eventually found myself at the dragon bridge

I guess this is the disadvantage of being in Da Nang or anywhere in Southeast Asia for that matter. The weather is too hot that a few minutes walk and I am out of energy. I spend so much on either cold drinks or Grab Bike.

I woke up really early today so I can take photos of sunrise. It was still 5AM so I thought I might as well bring my jacket with me. When I got out of the house, it was so warm and a few minutes of walking and I was sweating as if it is mid-day.

My Khe beach. Not much of a sunrise today. It was a bit cloudy.

When I got back at the apartment, I had a small breakfast and fell asleep while watching some random videos in Youtube. I was supposed to go to Huê today but I decided not to and just stay in Da Nang. When I woke up, I quickly showered and walked out of the house in search of an electronics store because my headphones stopped working. I cannot survive a flight back to the Philippines without movies or music to distract me.

Instead of going directly to the nearest mall, I searched Google for the nearest stores from my location and decided to walk and check out these stores first. Even though the main reason why I was walking was to search for these stores, I love how I managed to find myself in areas of Ngū Hành Son that I didn’t think I would see.

I didn’t realize that, aside from being near the beach, I am also near the Han River and all I need to do is cross the bridge and there’s Sunworld Da Nang! So despite the heat of the sun, I walked and walked and enjoyed the view.

The day was too hot, I had some Baskin Robbins.

This is why I am picky with traveling with other people. Not everyone will be willing to walk around a new city and most would prefer to go directly to tourist destinations. There’s nothing wrong with that of course. Some people needs an itinerary and that makes them enjoy the trip more.

I prefer one that just goes with whatever it is I feel like doing for the day. It’s more fun for me this way.

Solo Travel Day 6: The Sunset Spot

I came across this place by accident.

da nang best sunset spot

I wanted to take a nice sunset photo and decided to go to Cau Nguyen Van Troi (Not sure if this is the actual name but this is what comes up when I try to search it). It’s a footbridge that overlooks the dragon bridge.

I was early so I decided to check out the walkway along the river going to the dragon bride, turns out the area right behind the Fivetel hotel is private and I don’t want to go far, so I decided to go to the other side of the bridge and sit at one of the benches.

best sunset spot in da nang near dragon bridge

The first thing I noticed was the light. The golden rays of the afternoon sun, the golden bridge, the greenery, the rocks by the river… everything complemented each other and I could not help but take photos. I mean, a lot of photos.

han river best sunset spot

I love how Da Nang has a lot of places where you can just chill for free. You can just sit there and enjoy the breeze or walk along the Han River and enjoy the scenery. You can go to the beach for sunrise and at the river for sunset. You can sit there and enjoy your cold coconut juice or whatever your choice of poison is. You can just be there and enjoy the moment. You can be at the center of all the happening yet you can still enjoy your moment of peace.

Solo Travel Day 5: I followed my heart and I ended up walking 4KMs

No. I just want you to know that nobody asked me to walk 4.6km. It just happened.

Just like a lot of things that happens when I travel, it was something I did not decide to do but somehow happened. I went to Man Thai beach this afternoon after a short nap. I took some photos and decided to walk a bit and check out the seafood restaurants nearby.

I passed by so many restaurants but because their servings are so big, I decided not to go in. I couldn’t possibly finish it myself no matter how tasty looking that lobster is. I decided I’ll walk to the East Sea park and check things out there. There was a program going on but it’s in Vietnamese so I decided to keep walking.

I stopped for some ice cream and decided to start tracking my path via my Health app just to see how far I can go.

Along the way I thought of the food kiosks along Cong Vien but when I got there I still wanted to ea seafood. The restaurants nearby seemed a bit too formal for someone like me who’s sweating like hell. So I kept going. At this point I should have taken a Grab bike but for some reasons, I am now committed to see this to the end.

I must have lost my mind as well because instead of following google maps, I decided to make some turns that were not really suggested by Google. I felt like I achieved something when I saw a familiar building and realized I’m back on the main road I usually pass by on the way to my place.

I wish I can tell you that I turned to my street and went home. Nope. I kept walking determined to find a restaurant that serves seafood in small servings. I found myself in An Thuong 2, near My Khe and a few blocks away from were I m staying.

No, I did not get that seafood. I found myself eating Quesadilla instead. 😂

Solo Travel Day 5: The Cable Car made me cry

Today I cried hard riding the cable car. No, I wasn’t touched by how beautiful the view is. In fact I did not see it or most of it. I cried hard because I was so scared.

Going up to Ba Na hills I was fine. I was a bit scared but there were people with me and I was looking up. On the way back to the main reception complex, by some evil twist of fate, I was all alone on the cable car and facing front. I don’t know if it would have made any difference if I was facing the other way. I was so scared that I started to cry and my fingers started to go numb.

On the way up, I realized that going live in FB distracted me and lessened my fear. I tried it again on the way down but it didn’t work.

I was in line with some tourists but for some reasons I got in first but nobody got inside the cable car with me. See, the cable car does not stop completely at the stations. It only moves slow enough for people to get in. Nobody went in after me and by the time I realized this, the cable car is already far from the platform where tourists can get in.

I hastily tried to call my friend but she was out. I went FB live to try and distract my self but when the cable car left the station I lost it. I started to panic. I few mins after, my friend called and with my eyes half closed, I answered the phone. I cried so hard that I was scared I would start to hyperventilate. I wanted to change seats but the cable car is swinging enough already I could not move my body. I had my eyes closed the rest of the way.

I opened my eyes just enough to turn on the video so my friend can tell me if I am near the platform. I was crying the whole time. I was so scared.