A Travellerspoint blog

Exploring Puerto Princesa

sunny 30 °C

Today was a relaxing day. After doing some laundry in the morning, we walked over to Rob's place. He gave us a little tour of the place and then we had a planning session for the next stage of the trip. After making some adjustments to the plan, we left Rob's and tried to find a restaurant for lunch. Using Maps.me on my phone, we went to a restaurant called Rose's Beach Bar & Restaurant. This was about 1 1/2 km away on pretty hot sunny roads. Not a lot of traffic, though, so that was good. When we got there, we found out it was really just a beach access point. All the beach is fenced off into private beaches that you have to pay to use. So Rose's didn't have food, other than snacks and soft drinks. So then we got a trike to take us back to our place. We had fried fish for lunch. They put a whole little fish, that has been gutted, into the deep fryer. So then you get to pick out all the bones yourself. It was delicious, but too much work for me!
A trike

A trike


Don inside sitting opposite me because there is not room to sit beside me

Don inside sitting opposite me because there is not room to sit beside me


Rob came over about 2:30 or 3 to have a look at where we were staying. After a little visit, he had to get back for more yoga, and we continued to chill. Around 4:30 we walked out to the main road and got a trike to take us downtown to the Baywalk Park. We got a driver who was on his way home with some stuff for the family store, so first we went to his house and then downtown. The park was just a walkway along the bay, which is not fully completed yet and the only greenery are a row of palms. There are lots of food stalls down there. We walked back to downtown and checked out a huge department store. So much stuff on display.
Catamaran on the bay

Catamaran on the bay

Cooking pot display in the store

Cooking pot display in the store

Different kinds of rice for sale in the market

Different kinds of rice for sale in the market

Boy breaking up ice for sale in the market

Boy breaking up ice for sale in the market


We also visited the grocery store and the fresh food market across the street, just to see what was for sale - some things different from Vietnam, some of the same stuff. We walked back to K'an Boyet Bar & Grill for supper. They have the fish and vegetables laid out on a counter facing the street. You pick which fish or clams, or squid, or prawns, etc. You want to have cooked for you and then they do it. It was tasty food, but more expensive than last night and the ambiance wasn't as good.
Fish on display outside the restaurant

Fish on display outside the restaurant


We had asked the driver who took us downtown to come back and pick us up at 7:30. He had such a comfortable, wide trike that we wanted to ride back in it. We waited until 7:45 and he didn't show up so we hired one of the trikes that were waiting for fares there. Not as comfortable, but we did get home just fine.

Posted by katdill 14:51 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

Travel to Victoria's Guest House

sunny 30 °C

We got the ride to the airport with Hanoi Transfer. I was so glad we weren't having to find our way there. What a twisted convoluted route to get to the freeway that goes to the airport! When we arrived at the airport, there were lines of people everywhere! A very busy place, but after some standing in line we got checked in and through security. We were at the entrance to security when the woman said we had to go back, there was a problem with our luggage. So back we went, it turned out that a little flashlight Don carries in his bag had made the screening operator think it was a laser pointer. Luckily, he was satisfied it was okay and didn't confiscate it. (Although we don't understand why a laser pointer in your luggage would be a problem anyway?)
While we were standing in line, we saw a young Canadian couple from Vancouver, Matt and Keen, which we had talked to several times at Phoung Nha. They had been staying at the same place as we were. It was funny running into them at the airport and they were on the same flight to Manila as we were. They were on their way back to Vancouver. So we had another nice little visit with them at the gate for our flight.
The flight left Hanoi at 1:15 am and arrived in Manila at 5:05 am. Just a three hour flight, but Manila is an hour later than Hanoi, although it is further east....another puzzle for me! Our flight to Puerto Princesa was delayed and we spent about 5 hours in the Manila airport, although we had to transfer from the international terminal to the domestic one. Long wait on uncomfortable plastic chairs in a waiting room that was very crowded. There were several delayed flights and lots of people waiting. All the flights seem to leave at the same time.
Once we made it to Puerto Princesa in Palawan, one of the Philippines' islands, we were met by a young woman holding a sign with our name. She took us to what they call "a trike" for the ride to the guest house. A trike is a motorcycle with a kind of sidecar construction on it, roofed, but very small and uncomfortable. Not as good as a tuk tuk for sure! I didn't get a picture yesterday, but I'll try to get one today.
Our small rustic room

Our small rustic room

Our lovey porch with fantastic wooden furniture

Our lovey porch with fantastic wooden furniture


After arriving, we had lunch here at the guest house. They have a little restaurant which seems to be open only during the day. Then we walked thru little dirt roads over to the place Rob is staying. The three of us went in a trike down to the office where we had to get a permit to visit the Underground River Cave at Sabang. Three of us in a trike is very crowded. These are made for small Asian people, not large North Americans!
We also found an ATM for cash, 1 Canadian dollar is worth 37 pesos.
After leaving Rob and the trike at his place, we walked back to our place and Don went to check out the beach. He came back saying he had gone in up to his knees, but the water was dirty and very warm - maybe the warmest water he has ever been in! After just chilling for awhile, we realized we would have to go out for supper. So after asking for advice, which wasn't too helpful, we set out. We found a nice little bar/restaurant not too far away, Digi Ako. We were the only customers, sitting outside under thatched roofs, with a very attentive waiter. They had a nice oldies music DVD playing, which I enjoyed a lot. Good food, nice locale, nice friendly people, perfect!
Then home to bed for about 10 hours sleep!!!

Posted by katdill 15:03 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

Botanical Garden but No Bonsai

sunny 27 °C

I had read on the internet about a street, Hoang Hoa Tham Street, which was supposed to have a lot of bonsai shops and garden stores. It wasn't too far away so we walked over there and walked along the street. Not a bonsai or garden store to be seen in the kilometre or so that we walked. But we kept seeing people on motorcycles going by with trees on the back of their bikes! We decided it must be further out than we were willing to walk so gave up on finding them. In the search, we found a market selling birds in cages, crickets and some kind of worms, whether people food or bird food, we do not Know. We also found a store selling draft beer so we had a break and enjoyed a drink.
Bird cages for sale

Bird cages for sale


On our way to the neighbourhood, we went past Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum, with a long line of people waiting to get in. He died back in 1969, but he is still revered here. "Uncle Ho" is how many of the displays we have seen refer to him.
Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and the long line of people

Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and the long line of people

Presidential Palace

Presidential Palace


We passed a park area where remote controlled cars, large enough for young children to ride in, were being rented out and enjoyed very much. A parent would walk behind with a controller so they could steer as necessary.
Kids driving cars

Kids driving cars

Sidewalk barber shop

Sidewalk barber shop


We spent some time in the Botanical Garden, which was really just a big park with a small man made lake. No flower gardens, but a few cages of birds and monkeys, as well as a small sculpture garden. Many of the English words used here, have quite a different meaning than we expect!
Game being played on the street

Game being played on the street

We finally found bamboo street!

We finally found bamboo street!

So tired can sleep anywhere

So tired can sleep anywhere

Sidewalk welding shop just for Joel

Sidewalk welding shop just for Joel


After having some lunch at a small coffee shop, we walked back to our hotel. We picked up our laundry and started packing up to leave tonight. We went for supper at Duong's Restaurant, which is quite a upscale restaurant. Very good food, but quite a bit more expensive than our normal meals.
We walked over to check out the Night Market and enjoyed the music there. We had a strange conversation with a 16 year old boy who wanted to practice his English with us. Then it was time to head back and get ready to go to the airport.

Posted by katdill 15:21 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

More Exploring Hanoi on Foot

sunny 27 °C

After breakfast at our hotel, we started the day by taking some laundry out to be done. We found a travel office that offered laundry service (only 12,000 dong per kilo) and arranged to pick it up tomorrow. They had a terrific ceramic wall in their office, a 3-D scene with doors partly open, etc. Unfortunately, the picture doesn't do it justice, but I included it anyway, just to give you the idea.
Ceramic 3D mural

Ceramic 3D mural


We walked thru the Old Quarter, which traditionally has different streets devoted to different products. Some streets still had their products, like silversmiths, but we walked the basket street and wooden bowl street and didn't see any. So times are changing, although when looking at the vendors on the street, they are changing very slowly. The women with their yokes carry huge weights and have a very characteristic walk, which kind of bounces along the street.
Very heavy load

Very heavy load

Weighing the produce for a sale

Weighing the produce for a sale

Little boy with pet crabs

Little boy with pet crabs


We visited Dong Xuan Market, which is huge. It is a more wholesalers market that retail and we saw many transactions occurring for large numbers of the same item. Outside the market, we found the fresh fish vendor with live frogs, turtles, and fish of several kinds in their holding containers.
Part of Dong Xuan Market

Part of Dong Xuan Market

Frogs in cage

Frogs in cage


Turtles at fish market

Turtles at fish market


We had quite a disappointing lunch at a restaurant we happened to find - very greasy and not too tasty. As we continued our walk, Don found a street shoe maker, and got his sandal fixed. He'd had a previous experience with one who had practically stolen the shoe off his foot to work on it. But the other shoe needed work as well, so now he's all fixed up.
Don getting his show fixed

Don getting his show fixed


While I waited for the shoe repairing to finish, I took some shots of the street life. Always busy and loud.
Basket vendor's bicycle

Basket vendor's bicycle

One of the many embellishment stores

One of the many embellishment stores


We walked over to the Old Citadel, in which there is a flag tower, the Army museum, some buildings with various historic displays and an active archeological dig site, from the 11th to 13th century. Some women were working in the dig as we walked thru on the walkway.
Flag Tower

Flag Tower

Part of the huge dig site

Part of the huge dig site


By this time, it was late afternoon and I was dragging my butt down the street. So we took a taxi to a special restaurant Don had read about, Cha Ca La Vong. It only serves one meal - grilled fish. We walked up the very steep stairs to the second story of the house and sat down. Within 5 minutes the hot frying pan and all accompanying foods were on the table. It was so fast and delicious, although still quite greasy. They seem to like lots of oil here in Vietnam.
Don with his special supper

Don with his special supper


After supper and a short visit to a bakery for dessert, we started walking down the night market street. They were still getting set up. I was tired so I walked back to the hotel myself and Don stayed to enjoy the night market. There is lots of street food at the market and they had blocked traffic from the streets around the lake so they had vendors set up in the middle of the street. They also had a stage with a band playing music. A couple of hours later and Don came back to tell me about what I had missed.
Night market in the street

Night market in the street

Street food at the night market

Street food at the night market

Building lit up all around the lake

Building lit up all around the lake

Posted by katdill 15:23 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Return to Hanoi with a Change

sunny 24 °C

Don went out for a walk early this morning while I was blogging. He found some women practicing their fan dance in the park along the waterfront. He also got some nice shots of the harbour in the morning.
Fan dancers

Fan dancers


Early morning harbour

Early morning harbour


Here is a little video to give you an idea what it is like in the area around Cat Ba Island. We are told Halong Bay is like this as well, but haven't seen it for ourselves.

After breakfast, we did the return journey to Hanoi. Bus to boat, boat to bus, bus back to hotel. We rode on the back of the boat for this trip. It was a lovely day, warm and sunny. When we arrived back at the homestay, we found they had a problem with our room. Some kind of water/electrical problem had developed and they had booked us into a nearby hotel instead. So we have moved to the Ritz Boutique Hotel. As we were walking to the new hotel, we passed a man sleeping on his motorbike. I think you have to be pretty tired to do this, but we have seen people sleeping everywhere, anytime. When we were shown our room, we found an elephant of towels on our bed. First time we've had an elephant!
Riding on the back of the boat

Riding on the back of the boat


Towel elephant

Towel elephant


First time I've seen someone sleeping like this!

First time I've seen someone sleeping like this!


We went to a nearby vegan restaurant for lunch, where the food was good, but pricey, and the music just about drove me crazy - elevator Christmas instrumental music in February! We then walked over to the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum. This was very interesting with a wide variety of art, silk painting, oil on canvas, woodcuts, sculpture, and the most amazing lacquer painting and engraving. There is also a Folk Arts Museum along side which we just had time for a quick look at before closing time. We found the room with many different ethnic tribe articles, clothing, utensils, jewelry, and musical instruments.
Lovely lacquer painting

Lovely lacquer painting


We returned to the hotel for a rest before going back over to the Hanoi Old Quarter Homestay. They invite everyone who stays with them, to have supper with them one night - for free. We hadn't done this so they made sure to invite us. We ate with the father, who is the cook of the place, and his daughter, Hanh, who speaks excellent English. We had a lovely meal and very interesting conversation. Hanh helped us print out our boarding passes for our next flight. Then it was time to come home and relax.

Posted by katdill 15:35 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

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