Falling in love with Hanoi the second time around

The first time I went to Hanoi was in 2010. It was the last stop in my 10-day trip in Vietnam, and after going from Ho Chi Minh, Hoi An, and Hue, I’m ready to just take it easy. Fortunately (or unfortunately), Toy Story 3 just came out, so instead of sightseeing as all the travelers are doing, I did what the locals do on a Saturday afternoon: I watched a movie. Apart from that and my day trip to Halong Bay, I did nothing else in Hanoi.

Hanoi, Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

That’s why when I got the invite from Cebu Pacific to visit Hanoi, I jumped on the chance to really see what Hanoi has to offer.

Cebu Pacific flies to Hanoi three times a week from Manila. The flight arrives in Hanoi just past midnight, and flies back at 1 am, giving tourists an entire day to explore the city after and before their flight. Perfect for a weekend getaway.

Though the trip was just a tad longer than my previous trip to Hanoi, I was able to see and do a lot more. Here are the things I loved about this city:
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Bantayan Island Travel Expenses and Notes

Last August, I finally bit the bullet and booked a flight to Cebu to finally make it out of the city and explore Bantayan Island. It just so happened that I won Airbnb credits at a contest, and there was a beachfront house listed. Perfect.

Sta. Fe Beach

Traveling for almost 12 hours from my house to Sta. Fe is quite taxing, but that place was worth traveling by air, land, and sea. The weather is still quite cool in the Philippines this time of the year, and most of the locals are either recovering from the Christmas season or traveling to the Sto. Niño festivals in Kalibo, Iloilo, or Cebu. It’s mostly foreign tourists we saw in Bantayan, and there’s not a lot of them either.
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Of pearls and vendors

How do you deal with touts when you travel? In my years of travel, I’ve learned to ignore them, as engaging them (or in some extreme cases, just having a brief eye contact) leads to non-stop badgering to buy or contract their services.

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Unfortunately, I wasn’t share this advice to my cousin, so she got annoyed into buying a couple of pearl earring. The seller was quite persistent, even employing a guilt trap: “please buy, so I can make a sale.”

Now, I’m all for helping the local communities I travel to, but this guy isn’t the only person in this community. There are other people here trying to make a living, and selling things that I actually like and need. Like danggit. Lots and lots of danggit.

How do you deal with touts?

Review: Harolds Hotel in Cebu City

In our family Viber group chat, my brother expressed his interest in joining the Cebu Marathon in January 2015. He’s excited by the lechon-shaped medal, but he laments that the rates for the good hotels are all too high. I told him to look for Harolds Hotel. He searched for the hotel on Agoda, and was surprised to see how cheap the rates are.

Harolds Hotel Cebu

I found out about Harolds Hotel when Agoda arranged for me and my friend to stay there before we leave Cebu. Our flight was fairly early, and we felt much comfortable staying overnight in the city, instead of traveling all the way from Badian.
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A birthday treat at Edsa Shangri-La Hotel

I love getting e-mails from Hong Kong, because that meant good things were coming. And I was right — with it came a question: am I traveling sometime soon, and can Shangri-La assist with my accommodations? My travel plans at the time were non-existent, but I knew I wanted to have a special treat for my birthday, and that’s how I ended up at Edsa Shangri-La Hotel last Monday.

Edsa Shangri-La Hotel
Edsa Shangri-La all decked out for Christmas

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