Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Contagious Laughter at Dong Juan

We pulled off a despedida dinner for a friend who's leaving for United Kingdom very soon at Dong Juan.  It was a reunion of friends from school and I swear the boisterous laughter was contagious as always (even if we were barely half complete).  Even if we don't see one another as often anymore, whenever we come together, there is no silent moment with this loud brood.  We talk about anything under the sun,  we ask and get asked the most outrageous personal question, unmindful of being judged.  Whoever is absent, gets the butt of all jokes and talks. We've shared too many secrets (although we know our secrets aren't safe with them).  The relationship has grown platonic as we see one another grow up; we've gotten too close for comfort that we can't even see ourselves ending up with any of them romantically! haha  As one friend-in-law remarked, "the friendship is really different when you're from co-ed school".  Many of them were in fact my classmates since first grade.  At an early age, when you find friends for life, you need not seek so many others.  That's maybe the reason why I tend to be clannish with my circle of friends.  ;)  That was another night to remember and staying out until after midnight on a weekday only proves, there's nothing quite like this company. (and I can't forgive myself for not bringing a camera)

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

Dong Juan started out as an airconditioned hole in a wall restaurant in the side streets of Guadalupe.  They occupy the very first location of Mooon Cafe.  With a great affordable menu, they're a hit!  They just opened their second branch. They are popular with their burgers, but among my favorites are: burger steak, gambas al ajillo pasta, salami pasta, and fish 'n chips; all these with an average price of P150.  This is another home grown cafe in Cebu.

For reservation contact:
Dong Juan

Emilio Osmeña Street. Barangay Guadalupe

The Persimmon Plus in M.J. Cuenco Avenue, Hipodromo

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Love is a Decision

For someone who's elusive about her personal life, a friend finally spoke about her present.  We had a good chat about her relationship with a guy who, at forty is still not ready to get into a serious relationship.  He has a great heart, she said; but he had issues to deal with.

After exclusively dating for a year or so not knowing what the real score is, she has finally come to a decision of calling it quits. And she quipped, she might have not loved him enough.  In my humble opinion, she simply loves herself enough.  Have you read the book "He's just not that into you?"

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Northern Vietnam: Indochina Sails Luxury Cruise at Halong Bay

Halong Bay is a UNESCO world heritage site at Quang Ninh Province.

Initially, one of my travel buddy wasn't up to the idea of staying overnight because of unfortunate recent events of tourists drowning due to a sinking junk and suggested to do a day trip instead. A day trip to Halong Bay is possible but might be too taxing since it takes more than 2 hours (per way) to get there from Hanoi.  As for me, a trip to Vietnam isn't complete without an overnight stay in a junk in Halong Bay so I had to convince my peer and spent hours to google for options, read reviews, and checked the age of the junk!

Tripadvisor's top picks are the Red Dragon Junk and Paloma Cruise while travel blogger Ironwulf suggests the Aloha Junk through Handspan Travel Adventure.  Handspan is a reputable travel agency in Hanoi and they offer bookings in several types of junk. It is recommended to take packaged or guided tours if you are going to visit Halong Bay. Doing it on your own would be more costly and you would run a risk of encountering some frauds.

For $167 per person, we arranged with Handspan to be booked with luxury cruise Indochina Sails for 2D/1N.

Included in the package:
• Accommodation on Indochina Sails Junk
• Welcome drinks
• Meals as specified in the program:  lunch buffet, plated dinner, morning tea, brunch; (beverage excluded)
• Travel in an appropriate air-conditioned vehicle with an experienced driver to/from Handspan Office in Hanoi  (they do not offer hotel pick-up)
• The services of an experienced English-speaking guide (or French upon request)
• Entrance fees
• VAT and other taxes


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Explore Vietnam: Central Vietnam - Hue to Hoi An via Danang

Previous: Exploring Ho Chi Minh

We took the budget airline Jetstar from Ho Chi Minh to Hue;  the fare was just a third compared to their flagship airline Vietnam Airlines.  However, these two airlines share the same terminal.  Passengers go through a long line of security check in most terminals across Vietnam.

On this leg, we prebooked a two day tour with Handspan that will take us from Hue to Hoi An via Danang for $161 per person with superior accommodation. Handspan was recommended by blogger ironwulf. They had a pre-arrange itinerary for Hue to Hoi An, however, it was customized according to our schedule and preference.  Details were arranged through email communication.  Maybe because of language barrier, it took a couple of exchanges before they could get it right.  When details were ironed out, they asked for credit card information and sent us a link to prepay the tour online.  It is their policy that prepayment is required before they can guarantee the booking.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

First Lessons

Yesterday was the last day of my so called life. 

I'd be awfully busy with a new project coming up.  I am not sure how I will get through the next six months and still look refreshed.  Everyday, I feel jittery about facing something uncertain yet put up a confident facade for my staff.  I don't know how I'll manage to tone down that wanderlust when I see everyone else going places.  In fairness, I've had my fair share, by practically going around Asia almost once every two months last year.  I've been told by the project director to do risk management including to refrain from dangerous sports, ergo, no scuba diving!  Ew!  I'm eyeing to swing a trip to Malapascua next weekend, I guess I have to decline the invite.  To keep my focus, I have deactivated my facebook account, uh well, I tried and it didn't last for more than 23 hours.  Still coping with the withdrawal symptoms!

First lesson learned from this project?  Do the head bobble (or wobble)!  It's a gesture to tilt the head side to side, in agreement to the speaker.  It was kinda odd at first, because we are accustomed to nodding our head up and down in agreement.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Friends and Family Discount Rate for IHG

Over the weekend, being stuck in the city while my friends are stoked, turned out to be a fruitful.  The night went so fast with interesting conversation with friends who are likewise suffering severe wanderlust.  These group of friends are no backpackers but are independent luxury travellers who are suckers of good deals.  They introduced me to check out flyertalk.com  Little do I know that this forum exist.  Unlike other travel forums (Lonely Planet, Virtual Tourist...)  flyertalk basically covers luxury vacation availed with great deals.

Among others, flyertalk is a forum that provides tips on how to avail of "friends and family discounts" take for example, at any InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) by being Steve Sickel's friend or family.  IHG includes InterContinental Hotels, Holiday Inn, Crown Plaza Hotel and others, this discount rate is available for everyone by simply printing out a voucher; it's normally 30% off more from the best available rate.  The forum also provides tip on how to avail of membership cards to enjoy free upgrades, etc... 

We'll this is just the tip of the iceberg, I ought to explore this forum myself.  At the end of the day, I just uttered, afterall, I need not stay in hostels anymore to stretch the peso. :))

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