Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Saigon/HCMC: Watching the World Go By at Lamenda Café

One evening in Saigon, the sister and I were looking for a place to hang out after dinner. We have just tucked the parents into bed (hehe, the other way around huh?) and we were ready to chill the evening away.

Coffee and Cocktails.

We want to sit down somewhere and talk over a fresh cocktail drink and watch the world go by. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of cool outdoor places in Ben Thanh area where we were staying where you can sit back, relax and watch life happening before you on the streets.

But we got lucky though when we came upon this lounge café just a block away from Ben Thanh market and our hotel. It was, I guess, the only cool and chic place to hang out in the vicinity.

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

The ‘Barbecue Garden’ in Ho Chi Minh City

This is a great place for some casual outdoor dining in Saigon.

Our table has its own stone grill.

The family came from a very long day trip in the Mekong Delta so after having some needed rest at the hotel, we freshened up and got ready for dinner. I told the family that we are going just further down the road so no need to take cab rides. We’ve had enough driving for the day so some nearby restaurant would do us really well for the evening, especially for my mom who is mobility challenged.

I actually saw the Barbecue Garden a few times during our walks in the area. It is not too far away from our hotel in Ben Thanh. It’s on the same street, Le Thanh Ton corner Nam Ky Khoi Nghia and is just a 4-5 minute walk so this really came as a handy choice for us.

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Verdun, France: The City Behind the Greatest Battle in History

Many younger people (30-something and younger) may probably have not heard about Verdun in France.

It is a small city located on the River Meuse in the Lorraine region in the north of France. It is not too far away from Luxembourg. It is a fortified city, however, not much has remained of its fortifications except for the Chatel Gate and the Citadel.

The main tourism draw of the city and its nearby environs are its contributions to history and memorial monuments of the First World War, namely the Battle of Verdun, the world's longest and largest battle ever. Other than that Verdun is a relatively quiet and very local city.

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Friday, February 16, 2018

France: Douaumont Ossuary and Cemetery in Verdun

In late spring last year, Dutchman and I went on a long weekend road trip to the World War 1 battlefields of France.

Perhaps not the most ideal and romantic weekend getaway, but the Dutchman has a longtime fascination with the wars in Europe, particularly World War I and II, and Verdun was one of the places he talked about, as the longest and largest battle recorded ever in history. He would like to show it to me.

He has been here in the battlefields a few times during his younger years and he promised me that he’ll go back again, but then together with me. The trip plan wasn’t really a high priority, it was more of like – when we get the chance or we will wing it. Well, I am always in for a trip but I am also a curious individual especially when it comes to history.

The chance came last year in May. It was one of those religious public holidays that constitutes a long weekend opportunity. I was as well in between jobs, although I already had an offer after leaving my previous work in March, I negotiated to start the second half of June to be able to enjoy the last few weeks of free time which includes this road trip and an early summer holiday in the Mediterranean.

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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Panorama Photo Gallery of Gulangyu Island and Xiamen City Skyline

These panorama pictures of UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gulangyu Island, and Xiamen City skyline and coastline were taken from the top of Sunlight Rock.

Panorama view of Xiamen City from the top of Sunlight Rock in Gulangyu Island.

Gulangyu's rooftops.

I have wanted to post these pictures as part of my next entry about Sunlight Rock, but because there were just too many pictures, and of course, I want to post all of them, I have decided to split them.

The views from the top of the rock are spectacular. The terracotta rooftops in downtown Gulangyu represent the colonial past of Xiamen. Mansions in Victorian-style architecture, some of which are restored to their former glory, while many are still left in a considerable state of deterioration.

Across the straits are the Siming coastline and the ever-changing skyline of Xiamen city. Give it another 5 years and Xiamen will have a much busier skyline I am sure.

The new addition to the skyline is the Twin Towers (Xiamen Shimao Cross-strait Plaza) on the southern end of the coastline. Standing 300-meters each, they are designed like windsurfing rigs or windsails about to sail away to the South China Sea. The Twin Towers has become a landmark of Xiamen.

[To see the rest of the pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

Friday, February 09, 2018

Street Food Scene on Longtou Road (Dragon Head Road), Gulangyu Island

One of the many street vendors on Longtou Road.

Longtou Road or Dragon Head Road is the main commercial street of Gulangyu Island in Xiamen, China. It is basically a network of interconnected streets and alleys. People can find many shops, restaurants, and commercial establishments housed in century-old European-inspired mansions.

Since the whole island is pedestrianized, it is very easy to navigate the area on foot freely. No need to look back for incoming vehicles and pause at crossings and stop lights. Very ideal =)

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Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Fujian, China: In Just Less Than an Hour on Gulangyu Island

Gulangyu or Kulangsu is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in Xiamen, in the Fujian province of southern China.

Pre-wedding photoshoots are very popular on Gulangyu Island.

Monks on a (touristy) field trip. Taking a souvenir photo on the promenade of Gulangyu with the panoramic skyline view of Xiamen as a backdrop.

Known for its rich history and architecture and as an ‘International Settlement’ during the 1840s to 1930s, it attracts a sizable number of tourists every year. It is a pedestrian-only island so people go around on foot. Only gulf caddies and official government vehicles are allowed on the island. Not even a bicycle is permitted to be used.

Apart from the preserved Victorian-style buildings, the island is largely a residential area with a population of 17,000. The residents commute with the ferry to Xiamen which only takes a few minutes.

The foreign enclave obviously has had its glorious days, and today it serves as a remembrance of Chinese foreign policy in the 1800s.

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Saturday, February 03, 2018

Makati, Metro Manila: Greenbelt and Ayala Triangle during the Holiday Season

Most people and I mean non-Filipinos, do not realize that (Metro) Manila is actually a conglomerate of cities. People thought that its 1 big city. It is and it is not.

The Santo Nino de Paz Church and garden in Greenbelt. An oasis in the middle of a concrete city.

Christmas decorations on the buildings on Ayala Avenue, Makati City.

Here in the Netherlands I always try to explain that Manila (Metro Manila) is like the Randstad. The Randstad in the Netherlands is the urban area of the country composing of the 4 major cities connected to each other by the fast highways: Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, and Utrecht. Manila, on the other hand, is composed of not just 4 cities but 16 interconnected cities! And that the population of the whole country of the Netherlands is the number of people living in Manila alone.

That is enough for anyone living in the Netherlands to understand that we are not comparing apples to oranges =)

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Thursday, February 01, 2018

Stopover Stay at Makati Diamond Residences

The other year I spent my new year's celebration in Manila. I went on a holiday with my family in Vietnam end of December and instead of taking the flight from Vietnam to Amsterdam, I decided to go back to the Philippines with them and spend a stopover in Manila.

Buildings view from the hotel room window.

We stayed in Manila only for 1 night, on New Year's Eve. The family flew back to Cebu the next day and moi to Taiwan for another stopover before heading off to Amsterdam. It was a trip with a lot of stopovers and I can’t wait to have another similar trip this year. In fact, I am already looking at options for my stopovers. The choices are endless and I am excited =)

In Manila, we stayed at the Makati Diamond Residences in Makati City. The hotel residence is located beside the Greenbelt entertainment and shopping mall so it was a good location, especially for my mom who is mobility challenged.

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Sunday, January 28, 2018

Cebu, Philippines: Catching Up Time at La Vie Parisienne

When I was in Cebu the other year, I managed to meet up with a long time friend, Sheena. We spent the whole day together starting with lunch until midnight.

La Vie Parisienne in Lahug, Cebu City

I met Sheena in high school, we were classmates. We also went to the same school in our early college years, but later decided that we will both be happy with a different study to pursue which meant enrolling in a different university.

Every now and then we went out but life took a major turn when I moved to Manila after graduation. Things watered down a bit. Real life gets in the way. Career (for moi). Living in a new and alien city. Family (for most of my friends and for Sheena). Children (alas, not for me, haha). The meaning and purpose of life begun to unravel into something different. We all go through the stages of life.

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Friday, January 26, 2018

Scheveningen, Netherlands: Last Summer's Strolling, Tapas and Lounging

We seem to have been going every summer to Scheveningen in the last few years.

Scheveningen is surely a great place to go for a day out on the beach during the summer months. Especially if you do not plan on swimming.

There are many beach restaurants here, club lounges, pavilions and terraces where one can spend a few hours lazing around. The more than a kilometer promenade also offers an entertaining place to stroll on, and the pier as well which is now under new management has a food court. There are also new attractions added such as the Ferris wheel and the zipline are great options for the sportive lot.

But Scheveningen has more to offer. Go here: Scheveningen

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Grilled Gambas Dinner in Zurich and Coffee at the Limmatquai

My flight back to Amsterdam was scheduled for the evening, so I decided to have an early dinner in the city, my last meal in Zurich during my visit two autumns ago.

Alfresco dinner in Hirschenplatz.

I was eyeing to have dinner in the Niederdorf part of the Old Town. Earlier in the day I walked around in the area and discovered several nice places. I thought Hirschenplatz would a great candidate for a memorable last night dinner location. The square is always busy and is flanked with restaurants with outdoor seating areas. Very promising.

The weather has only been perfect since the day I arrived so I was looking forward to eating outdoors and do some people watching. It’s my last hours in the city, so I’d like to have a relaxing and enjoyable dinner.

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Monday, January 22, 2018

Zurich Old Town: City - Lindenhof Quarter

Or also known as Kreis 1 locally. It is the other half of the historical old town of Zurich.

One of the cafes on Glockengasse.

This is Augustinergasse.

The Old Town of Zurich is divided into two parts, the Niederdorf Quarter that lies on the eastern side of the Limmat river and the City-Lindenhof Quarter, on the western side where the Zurich hbf (railway station) is located.

I earlier wrote and posted a few pictures of our visit to the Lindenhofplatz, a small hill with a park on top with great views over Niederdorf.

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Finding "La Tartiflette" Dinner in Val Cenis, French Alps

Oh wow, the time has passed by so quickly. We are almost one week here in the French Alps and the winter sports holiday is almost coming to an end.

We are enjoying the holiday very much and I will be posting more stories about our experiences and pictures of this low key and excellent powder piste ski resort.

On a holiday like this, Dutchman and I normally eat our dinners at our chalet, for the most evenings. The chalet aparthotel we stayed at has a partnership with the nearest bakery and a couple of the local restaurants where you can order your lunch and dinner and they deliver the food right at your doorstep. This is a great service when you are not in the mood to go out and eat dinner after a long and tiring day of skiing and boarding in the mountains.

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Monday, January 15, 2018

First Day of Skiing in Val Cenis (French Alps)

Hi - Bonjour! I am writing from the French Alps =)

It's winter and its that time again for the yearly wintersports holiday!

We arrived in the Alps Saturday afternoon. The weather was looking good but that does not say for the weather the next day. We quickly settled into our chalet aparthotel, which we liked and which I will later on blog separately.

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Friday, January 05, 2018

Strolling the Quays of Zurich (Mythenquai) and Brunch at the Quai 61

When I was in Zurich in 2016, I went to eat at the Seerestaurant Quai 61, a lakeside restaurant in the Enge Quarter of the city that sits on stilts in the harbour area of Mythenquai. I went with girlfriend Bubbles and M who I met up when they were visiting the city.

The walk to the restaurant on Mythenquai.

I was going to have my brunch, whereas the girls were going to have a light lunch before their flight back to Portugal where they will spend another few more days before flying back to Canada. Zurich was basically their side trip from their Portugal holiday.

So I spent some time googling about Zurich restaurants by the lake and the Quai 61 seemed to have come up everytime as a promising location, thus I booked a reservation for the three of us around lunchtime.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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