Drinks · Experience · Food · singapore · Travel

Siem Reap trip journal – day 1 (The Amazing Residence – The Oasis Siem Reap – Pub Street )

Woohoo! Finally visited Siem Reap! As Indonesian, I don’t need a visa to visit Cambodia, but my friend needed one because she is Dutch. To learn more about whether you need a visa or not and what kind of visa you need to enter Cambodia, please read this post here. Other than a visa, we also needed to fill out 2 forms, an arrival card (and departure card) and customs clearance card. I didn’t bring my pen so I had to borrow from my neighbour on the plane.

arrival card departure card custom clearance card

Once we landed in Siem Reap, we entered the arrival hall and I went straight to Passport Control, while my friend had to go to Visa on Arrival counter with many other people. After she finished with the visa and paid $30, she then proceeds to passport control. I was done before her so I just waited near the baggage belt. We didn’t have checked-in luggage though, only 1 small bag for the cabin. But I think if we checked in a suitcase, it wouldn’t take long to retrieve it since the queue for passport check and visa takes some time.

Arrival Hall Siem Reap Cambodia
Arrival Hall

Once we’ve done inside, we went to customs area and handed over the form to the officer. We tried to find our shuttle from the hotel but couldn’t find my name so we decided to buy a sim card first. The sim card seller is located on the right side from the exit. I bought the one from metfone because of what I read before I flew. It said metfone has the best coverage even in suburb area. The price is $3 for 7 days tourist sim card with 5 GB data. My friend bought cellcard sim card from the next shop because it was cheaper. Tourist sim card for 7 days was $2 with 1.4 GB data and 50 cents balance for call. At first, I thought I needed a lot of data and no need of phone balance but later that day I found out I was wrong…

Metfone tourist sim card Siem Reap Cambodia
Metfone tourist sim card

Once we got our sim cards, we went back to exit area to look for our driver. This time we found him! A guy name Bun Rong held my name on the paper. He introduced himself to us. His english is really good! We walked to the gate where he asked s to wait for him there while he picked his tuktuk. We called it tuktuk because it’s easier. The vehicle is called remorque in Cambodia. Hence, there is remorque tour.

I was excited to ride it! It can fit 4 adults and less shaking than Thailand’s tuktuk.

Mr Bun Rong and his tuktuk
Mr Bun Rong and his tuktuk
Riding a remorque in Siem Reap Cambodia
Riding a remorque!

Siem Reap city view

Siem Reap city view

We arrived at hotel 20 minutes later and proceed to lobby to check in. The staff explained many things but he has an accent when he speaks so we hardly understand what he said. I got better understanding at his English compared to my friend, maybe, because I’m used to Vietnamese speaking English with their accent as well. Even so, I missed some words too.. In short, he explained about the tour and how to reserve it. We told him that we want to see Angkor Wat for sunrise and he told us the normal price for tuktuk is $18 but since it is very early, there is a charge of $5 (so total $23 for 8 hours tour, sounds reasonable!). He also told us that the hotel will prepare our breakfast in a box so we can carry it and eat it at Angkor Wat. Great service!

After all the explanation, he showed us our room at 2nd floor. Holy molly, the room is huge! We picked room with 2 twin beds and it is not two-single beds but two-queen beds! The bathroom also spacious, it has shower area on one side and a bathtub on the other side. They provide bath robe and slippers as well. A fridge, and a safety box. In one corner, there is a dressing table with a huge mirror. Really nice for a very good price!

We tried the safety box but it said error and nothing we could do so we called the reception to ask about it. The staff came to our room to check and he told us how to do it. I explained to him that we followed the instruction on the leaflet but still error but he insisted that we should try again later after 20 minutes. Fine. To be honest I didn’t like that respond but I let it go since we wanted to go out first. We were hungry and want to find some food!

The Amazing Residence Siem Reap Cambodia
The Amazing Residence
The Amazing Residence Siem Reap Cambodia
Lobby area
The Amazing Residence Siem Reap Cambodia
The room with 2-queen beds
The Amazing Residence Siem Reap Cambodia
View from our balcony, pool area
The Amazing Residence Siem Reap Cambodia
The bathroom

Our hotel is located near city center. The famous pub street is about 10 mins walk. Our destination that time was something else. I saw it on the app and it has good review so we were interested to try it. We walked with the help of google map and took some photos on the way. The road was busy and there is no pavement which made it hard for us to walk. The weather was nice at that time and it was almost sunset. After about 15 mins walking, we reached Genevieve, the restaurant that we wanted to try. Unfortunately, they were closed! 😦 We didn’t know there is a holiday going on at that time. We found another restaurant nearby but it was also closed. There is another restaurant, about 6 mins walking, called Wat Damnak which is also nearby. My friend suggested we call the restaurant first. This was what that phone balance for! I couldn’t call the restaurant because I didn’t have any balance on my sim card. Luckily, my friend’s 50 cents balance saved the day. She called the restaurant and found out they are open but they are fully booked for the night. Bummer.

We decided to walk back to city center and find something there. On the way, we saw a Cambodian restaurant in a guest house, named The Oasis Siem Reap, so we decided to try it. We ordered the curry, steamed amok fish and mango salad. For the drink, I ordered Cambodia Beer because what’s more refreshing than beer after a long walk 😀

The mango salad was good, fresh and a little sour. It has fish in it though. Curry was just so-so. It was very bland and the curry taste also very thin. Also, the chicken was very small pieces and less than 10 pieces (yes, I counted it!). Amok fish was okay, a bit bland as well. In the end we didn’t satisfy with our food. I was still thinking that it might be because of the restaurant was not good enough. The total cost for two persons was $11.

We continued our journey to City Center and this time our destination was the famous Pub Street. It took about 10 minutes to reach the Siem Reap old market area. There are a lot of shops on the side of the street selling Cambodian handcraft, souvenir, massage, snacks, clothes, and many more. The streets are very vibrant and lively. And there we arrived at Pub Street! You won’t miss it. They put a big sign with lights on it. Cafes, bars, restaurants are there along the way. Even if you don’t like night life, you will still enjoy it. Okay, maybe for a shorter time. It actually reminded me of Pham Ngu Lao area in Ho Chi Minh City. Very busy and loud street but this one not as loud though.

There are some local restaurants that offer Cambodian Cuisine cooking class in the area. One of them is Khmer Family Restaurant. We went there to order cocktail because we were still full. My friend ordered Kampot Pepper Mojito and I ordered Passion Fruit Mojito. Somehow I couldn’t taste the alcohol in it. The prices for cocktail and alcohol in general is cheap though, especially compared to Singapore (well doh! lol).

Pub Street Siem Reap Cambodia Night time
Pub Street
Cambodian Landmine Survivors Donation Pub Street
Cambodian Landmine Survivors
Khmer Family Restaurant Siem Reap Cambodia
Khmer Family Restaurant
Cocktail Menu Khmer Family Restaurant Siem Reap
Cocktail Menu
Kampor Pepper Mojito and Passion Fruit Mojito
Kampor Pepper Mojito and Passion Fruit Mojito

After we finished our drink, we head back to hotel because we need to get up very early the next day. The pick up to Angkor Wat will be at hotel by 4.30am, which mean we have to get up at 3.30am at least. Eek! We really hope the sunrise and Angkor Wat really worth the effort…

Thanks for reading, continue on day 2!

Ciao!

Experience · Food · Travel · Vietnam

Things to do in Da Lat, Vietnam

If you haven’t been to Da Lat, you should. This was my first time in Da Lat as well and I was only staying for 3 days 2 nights. I didn’t do any research before coming here. What I wanted was just to relax and have a good time (plus taking a lot of photos). No plan whatsoever on this visit. I came with my friend and stayed at the hotel outside the city.

We asked the owner of the hotel on what to do in Da Lat, but we also did some googling when we were free. So this list is just a few of many things you can do in Da Lat that we managed to do in our short visit 😅 Plus, it was raining every day so it limited our activities as well.

1. Crazy House (Hằng Nga Guesthouse)

A unique house. A lot of areas to explore and to take photos with. A must do in da lat. Entry fee 50k vnd. It has rooms for rent as well because it is actually a guest house. Their room is unique. The whole area’s design resembles a giant tree, incorporating sculptured design elements representing natural forms such as animals, mushrooms, spider webs and caves. The architect admitted that he was inspired by Antoni Gaudi in building design.

 

2. Da Lat Market (Cho Da Lat)

A big market in the city. Will be nice to visit if not raining and wet, but even tho we had a nice walk inside the market. Good to buy souvenir or snack, Da Lat speciality. A very busy place even though it was raining. Maybe because it was Saturday. Better visit on the weekday. They have a huge variant of winter clothes, shoes, ao dai fabric, snacks, and many more. The street outside the market building also interesting. There are a lot of fruit sellers. I bought strawberry 1 kg, just couldn’t resist it. It was very cheap and sweet kind. There are a lot of mulberry and artichoke sellers, which are the speciality in Da Lat as well.

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3. Da Lat Cathedral

A small Catholic church in the middle of the city. We couldn’t go inside the building, it was not allowed to enter the church. So we just strolled around outside and took some pictures. There is an area with Lady Mary Statue where I can pray or sit there if only it was not raining.

 

4. Datanla Waterfall

Visiting a waterfall is a must-do in Da Lat. There are a lot of waterfalls and we had no idea which one is the best because every one of them has uniqueness. We chose Datanla Waterfall because it was quite nearby from our hotel (although the taxi driver tricked us! She took us the long way). It was very busy in the morning. There were so many buses! Inside the area, they have a lot of activities including a single-person roller coaster, high rope, cable car, and several waterfalls to look at.

Recommended route based on my experience: After entering the gate, go on the walking route (to the left area) until you reach the first waterfall. Enjoy the scenery, take a lot of photos. Next, buy a return ticket for the cable car (or walk down along the path if you feel like hiking). Take the elevator to the lower level and you will reach another waterfall. Again, enjoy the scenery, take a lot of photos. Next, buy a return ticket of alpine ride. Enjoy the ride, it is so much fun! If it’s not too crowded you can ride it alone. Or you can ride it together with a friend (2 persons per car) on one-way and get back in a separate car. There is a camera installed on top of the track on the way back where they will take ur photo while on the ride! Make sure to give a good pose if you plan to buy the photo after the ride. It was only 60k vnd per photo. A good purchase to remember the moment.

Once finished, go back up again with the cable car to the first waterfall, then to go back to the entrance either by walking or riding another alpine ride. This one is a very short route though.

The restaurant on location is not recommended. We were disappointed by their food. Bring snacks to hold the hunger if you don’t want to eat at this place.

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5. Cable Car

There are 2 points for the cable car in Da Lat, you can start from either side. We took the entrance near Truc Lam Pagoda because it’s close from Datanla Waterfall. I must say this is a must-do activity in Da Lat. From cable car, we can see a vast forest on one side and the whole city at the other side. It can be scary when it rain and windy because the cable car swings a bit and the sound of wind can be scary as well. When this happens, just turn on the music on your phone and listen to it while enjoying the view. 1 cable car fit 4 adults, with a maximum weight 300kg in total.

 

6. Da Lat Flower Garden

A must do in Da Lat if you like flowers or take a selfie. Big area full of many different flowers and trees. Very good to relax and enjoy the weather along with the colourful flowers. Can easily spend 1 hr there.

 

BONUS PLACES !

Bicycle Up Cafe

Address : 82 Trương Công Định, Phường 1, Thành phố Đà Lạt

This place is hidden in an alley (but not too far from the main street), and has a small space. The interior is very interesting and not too crowded so you can enjoy your drink and relax. I tried their coffee and they are good! Most importantly, it didn’t make my stomach hurt. I like their homemade yoghurt as well. They have many drinks menu but no food menu. Recommended place to take a rest after a long walk.

 

L’angfarm Specialty Shop

The famous souvenir shop in Da Lat. They are everywhere. Just look for a nearby shop and you will find one. Some of them have a coffee shop as well so you can have a drink and relax. What to buy from this shop? Many things! But mostly food or drink. Their strawberry and mulberry extract are famous. My friend bought it to be mixed with soda water. Or you can use for baking as well. I bought dried fruits. I tried their sweet potato as well but it was too sweet for my taste. Don’t forget to get artichoke tea if you like drinking tea, especially flowery tea. Artichoke tea is one of the specialities from Da Lat. I like the mixed chips as well, especially the one with dried bitter melon. They have a bag of only bitter melon, but I didn’t dare to buy lol.

Dried Bitter Melon
Dried Bitter Melon

 

Chu BBQ Restaurant

Address : 38 Phạm Ngũ Lão, Phường 1, Thành phố Đà Lạt.

We were looking for something different after several days in Da Lat, and we found this place. The numbering system there is quite messy so you just need to walk until you find it. We were so hungry and wanted to try so many dishes, and ended up doing so! We ordered barbeque menu because the special thing about this restaurant is they are using a hot stone to grill the meat. Put all the meat on the hot stone and cook there. Beware of the smoke though! I had to get up to avoid the smoke. So many smokes! Pork Ribs BBQ is my favorite. Fried noodle with veggie is a bit spicy but taste good. Fried tofu.. could’ve used some seasoning on it. Too bland. Another thing that we loved from this restaurant is their chili. It was not too spicy and the taste was so refreshing with sour and salty touch.

 

Last but not least, I wanna share some tips if you plan to go to Da Lat :

  1. bring warm clothes, or bring more layer, especially if you come from tropical country.
  2. rain is normal in da lat, so prepare an umbrella whenever you go out.
  3. staying outside the city is nice too, but you need to find a hotel with good food because there is no nearby restaurant there.
  4. beware of a sneaky taxi driver. If you have mobile data on your phone, better check the route they are taking as well.

That was all that I can share from my trip to Da Lat. Have you been there? If so, which attraction or activity is your favorite? Let me know in the comment 😉

Thank you for reading!

Ciao.

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Experience · Travel · Vietnam

Ninh Binh Trip Diary – day 2

I woke up at 7am because I forgot to turn off the alarm. Doh! then we had breakfast at the homestay. Their food is pretty good. While waiting for the food and after the meal, we made plan on what to do today. We heard about the big festival that is going on at the old capital. It is only about 6 km driving. I couldn’t drive motorbike so the daughter of homestay owner offered her cousin to take me there and back. The cost was 100k vnd for that service one-way and I thought it was too expensive because the cost for renting a motorbike is 150k vnd per day. Ugh..

morning view from our hotel ninh binh vietnam
morning view from our hotel

The brother of the girl asked me to try the motorbike and see if I can drive it. I was scared because I never really drive a motorbike before. I did learned a little bit when I was in high school. Only on a small street and my brother used to make fun of my speed because I drove like a snail. But after a trial with the guy (he sat on the back, and me driving), apparently, I can drive a motorbike! In the end, we rented 2 motorbikes. My friend with her son. and me alone. We drove together and slowly to the old capital city.

There are a lot of people who asked us to stop for parking on the way to entrance. We picked the last parking spot and the lady said 20,000 VND. We didn’t agree, and the lady reduced the price. 5,000 VND it is! Luckily, the guy from our homestay told us the price for parking there. Thank you, Em!

ninh binh old town vietnam entrance
Entrance to Ninh Binh Old Town
festival boat ninh binh old town
Boats
Celebration of 1050 years
boats festival ninh binh old town
Ducks taking shower near boats
Entrance to a temple in Old Town of Ninh Binh
ninh binh old town festival

We strolled around the old capital. Taking A LOT of photos, especially when we found out that there is an event in one of the temple there! Many people wearing traditional dresses and there was a ceremony as well. I don’t know what ceremony was that but it was very interesting. We didn’t stay until it finished though.

On the way out, we stopped by at an ice cream place. 20k for celano ice cream. It was lunch time but my friend didnt want to eat there because of the previous food poisoning case she had on her trip to another cities in vietnam so I just hoped that ice cream would make my tummy calm until we found food! We walked a bit to the other gate, and on the outside of the palace there are many small stalls. I found an interesting water bottled brand in one of the stall! I thought it was Aquafina because it has the same design and color, but it wasn’t. It was Aquatoka! I don’t think they are from the same company…

Vietnam Calligraphy
Vietnam Calligraphy

We continued walking until we found a small pagoda. It looks new but still we took some photos there anyway. After we looked around a bit, we walked back to our motorbike and went back to the hotel to have lunch there.

In the afternoon we just stroll around the village riding a motorbike to take some photos. Then my friend’s son need a rest so we went back to the hotel and returned the motorbike.

Later on, my friend and I walked to the street next of the homestay. We met some people who said hello to my friend on the way, including a boy who passed by in a bicycle and showing us his middle finger while smiling! Whaaat?! I wonder if he understand the meaning of what he just did..

Ninh Binh Vietnam

When we were about to take a photo of abandoned boat, a small girl said hello to us. Her name is Yen, and she is 12 years old. She lives nearby. She was so happy to meet us because she’s been wanting to practice her english. And her english is great by the way. When I was 12 years old, I couldn’t speak English at all lol. She was taught since 5 years old by her mom, through youtube! And now at school she is learning English as well. She was so excited to show us around and didn’t want to leave us. I asked her if she needs to go home and do homework, she said no need, she just want to speak english. Cute! There were 2 of her friends joined us as well but their english is not as good as hers so they only responding in Vietnamese.

She asked us if we want to visit her school and we said yes, so she brought us to her school! What a unique experience! Haha. I’ve never been to a local school. It looked awesome though. I missed my school day just by looking at it. When it was the time to say goodbye, she desperately wanted to chat more but we couldnt. We really need to go back for dinner with the boy (who were asking where is his mom, been away for some time while he was sleeping lol).

We were having dinner together at the hotel when the owner lady joined us and she explained about her plants. In Vietnamese. We used google translator by voice and communicate very well with the lady. Very convenient! We decided not to go to the festival to see fireworks and it was the right decision. The daughter said it would be traffic jam and packed with people there. Her mom (the owner lady) turned on television and we could see the ceremony of the festival live! There were a lot of people at the old palace. I felt like we made the rigth decision by not going there. Not that keen to be in a crowded place. The lady also treat us an ice cream! I picked coconut ice cream and it was so good! Its texture was more like sorbet but sweet like ice cream. Delicious!

We finished eating ice cream by 10pm then I need to stay awake for awhile to digest this but I dont think I can do it, too sleepy. Better sleep now. Good night!

Experience · Travel · Vietnam

Ninh Binh Trip Diary – Day 1

Woke up early for 10 am flight and realized it was domestic flight from Ho Chi Minh City so I actually didn’t need to go to the airport that early. Arrived at domestic airport at 8am and while waiting for drop-in baggage saw an email from Vietnam Airline saying the flight has been reschedule to 12pm! Okay… So, I waited for my friend and we decided to check-in the baggage first and go somewhere else. My friend wanted to go to shopping mall, but at that time none opened yet.

Since I was hungry, I suggested to go have breakfast. But they’ve eaten already at home so it was just me. At first I wanted to try com tam ba gien. I’ve been wanting to try it but changed it to banh cuon (which I regretted later). The place is very close from airport. We went there by taxi. It only cost us 27k vnd but the airport surcharge is 10k. So total 37k. Only me ordered banh cuon. The place is very local. Their banh cuon was disappointing. I didn’t like it. No minced pork! Only the rice paper with fried onion on top of it. And they charge me 40k for that. I think it was a tourist price…

We went back to airport, which is very near, only 5 mins. The taxi cost 26k vnd but he asked for 10k surcharge as well! Next time if you are stranded in the airport, just stay inside unless you go back to your house/hotel which worth the cost.

We decided to wait inside and just proceed to security check. The queue was very long! Embrace yourself.. enjoy every moment… Once we got through the security, we went to food court to get snack for my friend’s son. I ordered cajun fries in the end. Too tempting. But it was around 10am already. So it was well calculated 😀 I knew we will get lunch on the plane.

By 11.20am we went to the gate and not long after we heard an announcement that our flight will have another delay to 12.30pm due to technical problem. Oh well, already waited for hours, another 30 mins was not a big deal.

Boarding the plane. They served lunch in the air so it was good. Arrived in Hanoi at 2.30pm. My friend have arranged a pick up service by Binh Minh Limousine so we just needed to wait for them. She already told them that we were gonna be late to arrive there and they knew it. She tried to get in touch and it was really hard to get in touch with them. The phone number listed in their website and facebook were not responding. I tried to look for their phone number through other website and called them. It was the same number that my friend tried earlier.

They finally picked up my call on the 3rd tries. It was already late for 1 hr since our arrival time and they asked us to wait another 10 mins. We were told before that an executive van will pick us up directly from airport and take us to our homestay. But when we arrived in Hanoi, they told us they were sending a small car to pick us up from airport and bring us to their center then we will use the limousine van. We didn’t understand why they couldn’t pick us up with the van because we saw many vans on the airport as well. They said vans are not allowed to go into the airport. After so many communication back and forth and still no car, we decided to take taxi to our homestay instead. It was more expensive but we were just too tired of waiting.

They called my friend when we were on the way in taxi. Asked my friend to hand in the phone to driver but she didn’t do it. And they hang up on her! So rude. After that, they called her many times but she didn’t pick it up. Dude, manage your business better if you don’t want to lose customer…

Can you see the goats on the mountain?

It took us 2 hrs to go to our homestay in Ninh Binh, Sierra Homestay. And the taxi cost was 1.6 mil vnd. We paid more than if we used the limo taxi. It would be 300k vnd per person if we used the limo from binh minh company. But anyway we finally arrived in Ninh Binh! Yay.

The people from our homestay are very friendly. We got our rooms and immediately headed out for the chance of taking photo before dusk. I got a few good shots. The man with the water buffalo was very nice. He couldn’t communicate with us but he still tried to get us a scene with his buffalo. He tried to tell us that the buffalo were heading to a certain direction so he asked us to wait there.

Rooftop Sierra Homestay
View from our rooftop
two people and a tree ninh binh people
They can bring anything with a motorbike (and a cart)
Buffalo taking a shower in the river Ninh Binh
Follow my lead, guys!
The buffalo guy ninh binh
Time to go home
people of ninh binh
Nice to meet you, little girl!

We didn’t know where to eat since it was just our first day here and no chance to look around yet. I ordered fried noodle with pork. It was good. But it couldn’t fill me up for long enough. I got hungry again…

Rest for 2nd day~

Night sky line of Ninh Binh Village
Good Night, everyone!
Food · Travel

Beast burger – Best Burger in Chiang Mai

On the last day during my trip to Chiang Mai, I couldn’t do many things because it was raining for the whole day! I stayed at hostel all morning and ate the leftover food from the night before as breakfast. We didn’t have any plan that day but of course we had to get lunch at some point. Me without food is impossible…

At first, we wanted to go to a Japanese restaurant nearby. My Thai friend said they have good food. But my other friend wanted to try a burger place. I forgot the name but the sister of my Thai friend told us it is the best burger in Chiang Mai. Apparently, my Thai friend disagreed. He said it is not that good and just a big portion. He showed me the photo and I instantly gave up on trying! It was so huge!

While we were debating on where to go, another friend from Thailand who is in the chat group replied “Try Beast Burger, it is very delicious”. It was approved by everyone after seeing some photos. There you go, I found my lunch! 😁

Beast Burger restaurant chiang mai

We went to Beast Burger at lunchtime and ordered different type of burger for each one of us! I ordered Crunchy Chicken Parmesan (230 baht), my Indo friend ordered Double Double Burger (250 baht), and my Thai friend wanted Aioli Mushroom Burger (230 baht). Then we all sat near the window. They have outdoor seating as well but we couldn’t go upstairs because of the rain.

Crunch Chicken Parmesan Beast Burger

Crunch Chicken Parmesan

Double Double Burger Beast Burger Chiang Mai

Double Double Burger

Aioli Mushroom Burger Beast Burger Chiang Mai

Aioli Mushroom Burger

It didn’t take long for us to finish our meal. It was really delicious! I would definitely recommend this burger place. Their location also great, at the famous street in Chiang Mai, that is Nimman street. One thing to remember though, they only accept cash payment. Make sure you have enough cash before going there.

Thank you for reading! And hope you have a great eating experience there as well.

Ciao.

Address :

Nimmanhemin 17
T.Suthep A.Muang
Chiang Mai, Thailand