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Backpacking Vietnam Travelogue 2013 – Day 5 (Hue)

8 Jan

Hello! I am up to Day 5- What a more than a year back log yeah.

So for day 5, we headed for breakfast in the same restaurant on the day we reached before checking out. Somehow when I am overseas, my body clock wakes me up really early. After which, we headed to imperial city.

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Backpacking Vietnam Travelogue 2013 – Day 4 (Hue)

1 Jan

Hurray finally up to Day FOUR post where we will left Hoi An and took a Sinh Tourist Bus to Hue.

First of all HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of you. May I complete more travel posts in the year of 2015!

We booked the tickets (USD$12, S$14 for two) prior to the trip and collected the day before.

Rise up on a bright and sunny morning @0730hours!

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Backpacking Vietnam Travelogue 2013 – Day 3 (Hoi An)

13 Sep

Hello there!

Finally up to day 3, well I’m sorta half way there! So for day 3, we had kinda had a free & easy full day at Hoi An.

Well, if you haven’t known, Hoi An has been placed in the list as one of the world cultural heritage. It is an ancient town that has preserved its architecture quite well. Not only so, Hoi An is also known for its tailored made shirts, shoes and even bags.

Here’s a picture of us right before leaving the home-stay

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And another one with our bicycles!

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The night before when we were cycling back to our hostel, we pass by a tailor-made shop (well, there’s a dozen of them) and decided that we will check them right first thing in the morning!

I think most of the time, the shops are affiliated. Right beside this tailor-made clothing shop, is a tailor-made shoe shop. And without even much thinking, you would have guessed that we got ourselves both.

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Minimally, they need at least a day to produce your items. But cause we were leaving right early morning the next day, they kept telling us that they can deliver to our home-stay at night. So without much hesitation, we started choosing the cloth and the way we want to made our clothing into.

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Don’t worry if you have no ideas the style of clothing you want to make, they also provide fashion magazines & catalogs for your reference.

I tailored made 2 tops and 2 pairs of leather shoes and spent VDN$840,000 (SGD$50) and VDN 892,000 (SGD$53) respectively, which is really worth it.

After we’re done with purchasing, we proceed with lunch 🙂

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Had the local chicken rice
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And this really nice noodle named the Cao Lau which is made of  thicker noodles that has a chewy texture, together with pork and raw veggie. The homemade chili sauce is really yummy. Even though its been a year, but I can still remember this dish till date 🙂
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We bought our tickets from the information counter- Just right beside the Japanese bridge

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The ticket costs about VDN120,000 (SGD7.20) for 5 site-visiting places
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First we visited the Japanese Bridge
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And then visited, 2-3 ancient houses that has the Japanese and Chinese elements

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We also visited a museum
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Initially we wanted to head for Thu Bon River rowing but we can’t seem to find the place hence we settled for a normal boat ride.

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The weather is extremely HOT and Sunny as you can see the sky is really blue.

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The good thing about being in a cycling city is you get to explore the entire part, cycle and enjoy the beautiful view.

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We actually booked to do Yoga a class at An Bang Beach for 2 hours for VDN500,000 (S$30) but then couldn’t cause it rained 😦

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Nearing to the end of the day, we headed for dinner by the river again.

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Not too sure if it’s cause of the food, my travel partner was down with stomach upset the next day.

Last by not least, we cycled pass this spa place & decided to head in there for a rest and relax session.
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And that’s it for part 1! Till next time.

Back in Taiwan

6 May

Hello all! (;

I finally completed my studies and exams (: Currently in Taiwan for a getaway trip with my mom.

Been to taichung and cingjing and now in our last stop in Taipei. I know I have a long list of backlogs to write. Can’t wait to complete em when I’m back (:

Looking forward to it! Here’s a picture of my coffee in a local café now.

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Till then.

Love,
Raine

Collaboration Travel Post- Things to do in Las Vegas and Taiwan

26 Mar

Hi there!

This week’s post is a really unique one. I had the opportunity to do a collaboration travel post with @Kendra Thornton from Chicago. The objective is really just to share both of our favorite travel places and the things we like to do there. I supposed you guys are able to guess the author of the article? (yes that’s right, Kendra on Las Vegas and yours truly on Taiwan).

Personally, I haven’t been to Las Vegas at all so looking at the article written by Kendra, I definitely want to visit the place some day!


 

Las Vegas- A Family-Friendly Sin City
Written by: Kendra Thornton

One of my favorite places for a family vacation is Las Vegas. Despite its nickname Sin City, this bustling desert oasis has plenty of kid-friendly activities that the whole family can enjoy. With spectacular shows, amusement parks and watery wonderlands, this city will entertain Mom, Dad and the kids.

Don’t Forget to Scream

The decibel levels in some parts of Las Vegas have risen due to the wild rides available. This is a roller coaster lover’s paradise. Adventuredome inside Circus Circus is home to many of the city’s most thrilling rides. The Canyon Blaster is the world’s only indoor double-loop, double-corkscrew roller coaster. Their record-breaking El Loco, just announced this past December will excite lovers of negative-G drops.

Learn a Little During Your Stay

I’m not a fan of musty museums, but Las Vegas has some fun, quirky places that make learning about history a lot of fun. The Neon Museum, located just off the downtown strip, shows off the city’s history in lights. The National Atomic Testing Museum features unique exhibits about the scientific history of the region. My kids love spending a day at Discovery Children’s Museum. It seems that everywhere you turn in Las Vegas there is a new learning opportunity.

Explore the Desert

I love that this booming metropolis lies in the heart of a desert. To see some truly magnificent scenery, take a Pink Jeep Tour. Pink Jeep Tours Las Vegas picks guests up at their hotels. The guided tours then travel to various scenic spots in the area. When my kids get old enough to enjoy the ride, I look forward to booking the day trip to the Grand Canyon.

Train the Dolphins

The magic of Las Vegas includes some amazing watery adventures. At Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, guests can become dolphin trainers for a day. You’ll work alongside marine animal experts and interact with the resident Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. I loved this outing at least as much as my kids did. By the end of the day, I felt almost like a marine biologist.

 

Regardless of your personal preferences in recreation, you’re sure to find something fun to do in Las Vegas. My family always enjoys the wide selection of activities, and we have fun planning our Las Vegas itinerary together. Sites like Gogobot make it easy to plan so you are more prepared once you visit. It allows you to read user reviews of various hotels and even restaurants. I’m sure you and your family will enjoy Sin City as much as we do.


 

Taiwan- One of my all-time favorite travelling place
Written by: Raine Ong

A 5-hour flight takes me from where I am in Singapore to my favorite travelling place- Taiwan.

Taiwan is a country where you can immerse yourself in its diversity in the different culture, people, and religion. At the same time, you can plan your itinerary based on outdoors, nature, shopping, sightseeing etc. There are just so many areas which you can explore in this country, making it suitable for backpackers, travelers whom are seeking for leisure trips, whom are looking to shop, to eat; as well as, big family that are looking for a family friendly place to travel to.

Personally, I have been to Taiwan twice and am heading again this May. Taiwan is a huge country which is divided into different cities. The capital of Taiwan is in Taipei. Let me share with you some of the places that I have been and hopefully this will be useful for you.

Night Markets
If you are a real foodie and would like to try some authentic Taiwanese street food cuisines, visiting one of the night markets is a must on your itinerary. Night markets is one of the icons of Taiwan. It’s a place where you can find really yummy street food together with good shopping buys. Interestingly, different night market has different characteristics altogether, and of course the different ‘must try food’ on the list varies too! Here are some of my recommended ‘must try dishes’ when you head to Taiwan

1. Potato cheese

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Baked potato filled with your choice of ingredients (I had corn & ham), filled up with nacho cheese. Not counting the amount of calories in (who cares anyway when you travel), this food is a must try when you head to the night market, especially if you are a cheese lover just like me.

2. Shaved Ice Mango

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It can get quite hot in summer, chill yourself down with a cold shaved mango ice. The mangoes, or rather all fruits in Taiwan are really sweet and yummy.

3.  Oyster/ Pork intestines Vermicelli

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One of my real favorites and a dish which I will have it every time when I am in Taiwan. This is a popular street food in Taiwan. This thick, rich soupy vermicelli comes with either pork intestines or oyster. You will usually top it up with chili, garlic sauce and vinegar based on individual preferences.

4.  Stinky Tofu

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If you are wondering if it literally means that the Tofu is smelly, then bingo you are right! The strong smell basically came from the tofu’s fermentation and can be quite hard to accept. If you are quite adventurous, just like me, you can give this a try.

Shopping
Taiwan will be one of the places you can really buy at an affordable price. Other than the night markets which was mentioned earlier, there are also many other places which you can consider visiting in your next trip. One of my favourite is the wholesale area, Wu Fen Pu. It has a large variety of items. However to be able to get the stuff at a better price, you got to buy more in a shop. So I supposed the trick here is to go shopping with more friends so you guys can bulk up your purchases as a whole and bargain the price. Of course, other than the street shops, there are shopping areas as well in the city mall and the department stores.

Nature
I really enjoying going away from the hustle and bustle of a city and just immerse myself in the greenery. Taiwan has heaps of nature places where you can go to. I personally had been to Hualien, which is a 2.5hours train ride away from the city. Hualien is also one of the least crowded city in Taiwan. There are the well-known Taroko National Park which is a must visit to Hualien. Of course, other than visiting places, you can also do nature activities such as surfing, river tracing, dolphin watching etc. in various part of Taiwan.

 

Here are just a very brief introduction of the things which you can enjoy in Taiwan. I believe it is a place that is suitable for anyone based on your travel objectives. Oh, and here are some of the website I like to check out on accommodation and places to visit, as well as reviews from people whom have been there. Some of it includes lonely planet, agoda, trip advisor etc. which is really helpful in planning your itinerary.


I hope you guys enjoyed this collaboration post! You can follow Kendra at her twitter @Kendra Thornton.
Do leave a comment below if there’s any feedback or questions regarding any of the place.

Till then, I’ll be back at writing my Vietnam post soon.

With love,
Raine.

Backpacking Vietnam Travelogue 2013 – Day 2 part 2 (Danang/ Hoi An)

16 Mar

Notice: I have really backlogged this for ages. Supposed to post this up in December, so I’ll prolly just leave the intro as it is 😛

Hi there! I just ended my exams today & getting really happy and excited at the same time. Just to share with you guys I will be travelling for work this coming Monday to Myanmar- the first to the country & my first work trip! Hopefully I’ll be able to just share some snippets of my work trip after I am back. Now with my exams done, I hope I can complete this travelogue soon? Before I get to my next trip end of the year 🙂 So here’s day 2 part 2 of the travelogue. So right after our Cuchi tour, the tour guide drop us in a shopping mall near the airport where we had our lunch. It was quite decent and yummy 🙂 IMG_0226 IMG_0223 IMG_0222

After lunch, we were still very early for our flight departure and hence went to had a walk around the mall which didn’t had much stuff at all. In the end, we decide to head to the airport earlier to just chill and take a rest a lil’ bit. Earlier on, the driver from cuchi tunnel said that we could walk to the airport. However after figuring out for quite sometime, we didn’t quite get where & how we could walked in there. No sign, no pedestrian, just roads so we had to catch a cab to go to the airport.

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Here’s a picture of the domestic airport

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Our tickets

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Interestingly, we had to take a bus to our airplane.

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Here’s a picture of our really shagged faces after a long day

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Always enjoy taking picture of the sky when I am in the air

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Here’s a picture of the Danang domestic airport which looks really new, clean and nice. Kinda different from the one in Ho Chi Min.

We arranged for transport with the home-stay we were staying with in Hoi An for about VDN$350,000 (SGD$21) for 2 pax, one way trip. It was about 45mins to an hour ride from Danang Airport to Hoi An.

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Here’s a picture of where we stayed in Hoi An.

Here’s the details of the home-stay we stayed:

HoiAn Nature Homestay
164 Ly Thai To Street
http://www.naturehomestay.com/

Really enjoyed the place we stayed. Even though there was a little communication break-down at times as their English was not as strong, we managed to break through the barriers with sign languages (even though I kind of suck at it). The home-stay has a total of 4 floors-high, a common living and dining area which I find it good enough for a night or two stay. As the location of the home-stay is slightly away from the Hoi An town, bicycle is freely provided for us to cycle to the town and to the beach.

Here are more pictures of the home-stay place!
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Here’s the outside of the home-stay (with the owner’s son in the picture) and the bathroom which was quite spacious.

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And here’s the small area with cupboards, leading to the bedroom coupled with mosquito nets.

As it was around 7ish 8 when we reached the home-stay, it was kinda dark to navigate the area finding our way to the town while cycling. A little scary at first (for fear of losing our way, well we still did anyways). But in the end, glad all is well! We managed to reach our destination and was blown away by the night view of the beautiful Hoi An!

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After which, we moved on to grab dinner for ourselves before heading around town to check it out. A six-course meal for the both of us + 2 ice-cold beers, for the price of VDN305,500 (SGD18).

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Ice-cold beers to chill out
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We also walked pass this where you can pay to play this game. Kinda similar to Pinata concept, you are blind-folded and had to be directed by your friend to hit the hanging piggy and once it’s break open, you get a price. Thing is, you only get 2 chances and that’s it.
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And YAY! Here’s the end of my day 2 part 2 post!

Coming up next will be continuance of visitation of a full day trip in Hoi An! 🙂 Also good news to share with you guys is, my finals of the final exam will end in April and hopefully this means I have more time to commit into the blogging and sharing scene of my VERY VERY backlogged trip, which I kinda repeats in my every other post.

Can’t wait for the day where I get more time to do more things which I enjoy!

And till the next post!

Love,
Raine 🙂

Greetings from Hua lien, 花莲 (:

3 Jan

Hello there!

I’m currently in Hua lien, spending a night here. This morning we took a train from taipei & headed for a tour to tarokae straight after we reached. The place is really pretty & has nice scenery!

Hopefully on my next trip, I can take a solo travel to taiwan on my own round the train route! (:

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currently enjoying coffee at a place near where I’m staying.

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and here’s a reallly short snippets of the 1d am here. More to come after I’m back and done with my viet backlog..

till then!

love,
Raine

Goodbye 2013! Hello 2014!

31 Dec

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I’m currently at the airport now leaving to taiwan! (yay again). kinda first time flying on my own, kinda like the most last min packing I’ve ever did, getting lil’ excited! (:

Sorry I didn’t managed to finish my posts on vietnam.. I just got back on my worktrip right after my exams. Shall keep you guys posted drips & draps of my trip. You can also check out my insta hashtag #travellingwithraine to get live updates.

see ya!

Backpacking Vietnam Travelogue 2013 – Day 2 part 1 (Saigon)

17 Nov

Hi there,

Apologies for the hiatus (due to school, work etc..)

Here’s my day 2 post. We woke up at around 5am in the morning to prepare to go to Cuchi tunnel before our flight to Danang. Our tour guide fetched us from our hostel.

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We brought some bread from Singapore anticipating that we won’t have time to grab breakfast so early. Jason, our tour guide was nice to brought us some baguette as well in case we are hungry.

He stopped us by briefly, jokingly asking if we would like to have rats for breakfast. OMG, look at the cage.

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It is approximately a 2 hour journey from Saigon to Cuchi tunnel. Along the way, Jason played some historic videos which I thought was quite good for us to understand the history that happened in the tunnel. He also prepared some notes regarding the place for us to read along the way. One of the services during this tour is that, he will take all the pictures for you, so you don’t need to take out your camera at all.

Here’s the entrance to the tunnel.

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An introduction of the tunnel structure and the map.

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A place where we can take a picture of the actual size of the tunnel.

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Hidden by leaves. Find the entrance to the tunnel?

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Here it is!

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So we enter into this small space and took a picture. *ahem*, I had difficulty coming out thereafter (need to train more of my arm strength)
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Follow by showing us the different type of traps that the vietcong made with knifes and bamboo. This is one of which.

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A couple of photo opportunity for you to take pictures

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Aside to that, you can get your hands on a rifle or a MK18, for the a price of course.

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A demonstration of what they eat and how they cook their rice paper.

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After the tour around, we get to experience by walking the tunnel. The picture below is already the ‘expanded’ size for tourists to walk through easier. If I didn’t remember wrongly, the entire tunnel length is about 250 metres with exits in between for tourists that couldn’t continue any more.

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There is a small portion of the tunnel where it is the ‘actual’ size of it. See how narrow it is?

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Overall experience of the tunnel: Really warm, hot and tiring cause we were squatting and walking most of the times. There’s a short while where I was crawling cause it’s really quite tiring. Couldn’t really imagine how the Vietnamese could stay there for so long.

After the ‘tough’ journey, we proceed to end with eating tapioca with sugar and peanut, a common food that they eat during war time.

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Here’s a picture with us and our guide Jason.

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My thoughts on this tour: We paid around US$95 for this tour and we both felt that it was not worth it. Before engaging him, we did our research and read very good review but sadly we felt that it was kind of like ‘rushing’ and just snapping pics here & there without much engagement. 

And that marks the end of my day 2- Part 1 post on cuchi tunnel. Next up will be us flying off to Danang and to Hoi An, one of my most favourite place in Vietnam 🙂

Backpacking Vietnam Travelogue 2013 – Day 1 part 3 (Saigon)

14 Sep

Hello there!

I’m finally up for my part 3 day 1 post in Saigon. And for the last part, we booked a tour with XO tour with the ladies on a Vespa! It was a totally new and really cool experience of my entire trip. You can check out the different tour they offer on a Vespa here: http://xotours.vn/

Khim and I booked on a Saigon by Night tour which features 5 different districts that we probably won’t go and includes a light dinner, with 3 choices for us to choose from. The tour started with the guides coming to fetch us from our hostel.

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It’s a really different experience and made me felt like one of the locals among the many bikes on the street. A picture taken of the sun setting when we stopped at a traffic light.

Throughout the journey, the guide also engages you by talking and casually chatting, just like a friend 😀

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A shot of me and my guide, taken by Khim.
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And here’s our first stop at the Chinatown in district 5. What we do here is to gather with the rest of the tour group and met up with the tour leader that gave us a brief introduction of the area. There isn’t time given for us to shop or look around.

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They bought us this rice paper with salt and pepper for us to try. Personally… It’s not really to my liking.

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A shot of us with our the ladies at Chinatown. The tour leader help us take group pictures and then emailed it to us thereafter.

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Thereafter, our next stop is to take-away our choice of food. All of us chosen broken rice with chicken. We get to see how it was prepared.
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A really innovative way of fanning the grill with an electric fan instead of a handheld fan.
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Thereafter, they brought us to a sugar cane stall to have a drink and our take-away dinner.

Here’s a shot of my broken rice which I absolutely loved the taste of it. It was really yummy! A highly recommended must try dish when you are in Vietnam 🙂
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A pretty picture of my guide, Hoang.

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A group shot of us shouting, delicious in Vietnamese (if I didn’t remember wrongly)
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And after dinner, we were brought to District 7, a district that I would never thought they have in Vietnam. A district that totally feels like Singapore, where according to our guide, the expats lived in.

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This is also the last stop where the tour leader do an introduction of this area and a closing to summarise the trip. We took a last picture with the guides, of us ‘riding’ the bike.
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And the last stop, was passing by district 4, which is the total opposite of district 7, a contrast of where the poor lived in.

And that pretty much summarises of 2.5 hours tour which was an added experience to our trip 🙂

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A key chain & a survival phrasebook were given to us as well during the dinner!
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I would highly recommend to join a tour with them when you are in Vietnam. I will probably try out the other tour next time I’m in Saigon. And below, is just a short video my friend took.

Till then! I can finally start on day 2.

With love,
Raine.

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