Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam -To the winsome city of Saigon

Saigon is a busy city compared to Siem Reap. First thing that I noticed is that there is a lot of motorcycles. These motorcycles are everywhere! Be careful when crossing the streets; even when you’re walking peacefully on the sidewalk they will start invading your space especially during rush hour! Haha! Also, i have to deal with the language barrier. Most of them don’t understand nor speak English so what I did was I screen cap the addresses of the places where I wanted go and showed it to them.

When I arrived in Saigon I literally don’t know where to go. I met Satya (worked in Norway for 10 years as a Geologist but quit her job to live life to the fullest) who was about to head back home. I asked her if she’d like to chat over coffee and she agreed. I heard so much interesting travel stories from her and learnt about what’s life after 20’s. I walked with her to the bus station bound for the airport. She recommended District 1 because it’s the backpackers area in HCM. I got lost for a bit but found Lee Hostel. I stayed here for 2 nights for đ68,000 a night. I met Faun (from California with a very bubbly personality); she helped me book a bed thru her credit card and also I went down with her in the Cu Chi tunnels. Vietnamese men were so tricky during the war. You get to learn their techniques and how they lived below the tunnels. I went to the War Remnants Museum after and got very emotional. Seeing photos of how the Americans tortured and killed their enemies was just heartbreaking. I saw tourists crying outside the museum too because of this.

I went to Ben Thanh Market to buy souvenirs. T-shirts are freakishly cheap here. This is such a memorable experience because I celebrated my 27th birthday eve here. I met 3 gorgeous Canadians during my stay in Lee hostel and told them I’m travelling solo for my birthday. So after my tour, when I entered the room, everyone in the dormitory formed a circle and was drinking. Surprisingly, they were celebrating my birthday! It was such a good night because I met people from different countries. Thank you Anna, Jenny, Jacq, Michael, Adrian, Rachael, Halley, Amalea & Kate, George, Chris, Damiano, Bas and Jelle for this! And also we all did pub crawl and it was crazy! I also had the chance to reconnect with an old colleague from Stellar Philippines. Thank you Mommy Tess for treating me a fancy dinner at the Secret Garden. It was extremely satisfying since I haven’t had a full board meal during my stay in Cambodia. tLre51469970215
$1 – Cab fare share to District 1.

$2 – Highlands Original Vietnamese Coffee

đ136,000 – Lee Hostel 2 nights stay

đ80,000 – Cu Chi tunnels bus fare

đ110,000 – Cu Chi tunnels entrance fee

đ40,000 – 2 bottles of water

Day 3

đ20,000 – Motorcycle experience to Ben Thanh Market

đ200,000 – 20g Original Vietnamese Coffee powder for Beefy.

đ440,000 – Souvenir shirts, magnets etc.

đ77,000 – Share for alcohol and soda

đ60,000 – 3 bottles of water

đ100,000 – Motorcycle fare (got lost in District 4 or something)

đ100,000 – Meals

đ250,000 – Starbucks Tumbler

đ30,000 – Pub crawl fee

đ250,000 – Bus ticket to Phnom Penh

Total is đ1929,907 / Php4,085 – such a priceless experience I had here. Come to think of it I only spent Php4k in this country. The next morning I bought a bus ticket back to Phnom Penh. I hate the feeling of leaving my new friends behind but we all have different plans, so. I spent a night in Phnom Penh for $3. I would not recommend the fan room in Happy House Hostel. It was just so sad but I guess I got what I paid for.

$3 – Happy House fan room 1 night

$9 – Bus to Siem Reap

$5 – Breakfast + bottled water

$25 – Shopping in Siem Reap night market

$1.5 – I had rum coke in Angkor What? Bar

$5 – Tuktuk to Siem Reap International Airport

Total is $48.5/ Php2290 – So in conclusion, I only spent Php15,500 during the whole trip. When I arrived in Siem Reap, I didn’t stay in New Home hostel anymore because I wanted somewhere near pub street. The tuktuk driver recommended a hostel. I asked the receptionist if I can just leave my things and charge my gadgets. He said yes without asking for any payment. Thank you! I also recommend to take at least 2 weeks travelling these cities because I missed out on Hanoi, Mui Ne and more in Vietnam. You can go all out for 2 weeks (I can’t because I have work).

Siem Reap, Cambodia – to see the majestic Angkor Wat sunrise

In 2015, I told myself that I want to spend my birthday in Cambodia. It’s a dream to blow my candles in Angkor Wat while watching the sunset. It was a random thought that may change my life forever. I’ve been wanting/trying to travel solo and I took advantage of the seat sale Cebu Pacific had in December 2015. I bought my 7-day RT tickets for Php3,800. I remember having trouble getting the perfect dates (July 10-16) but thank heavens I was able to get ’em. I did a research about solo travelling in Cambodia and learnt that most of the bloggers and/or travellers crossed Cambodia to Vietnam. I thought that was a great idea – it’s hitting 2 birds with one stone. I asked myself “Why not?”

As months passed by, I saved Php20,000 enough to cover the trip (I heard it’s going to be dirty cheap there). A few days before my flight, I booked an overnight stay in a private room in New Home Hostel for $10 just to show an address at the Immigration. The hotel staff also suggested a tuktuk pick-up from the airport to the hostel for $5. I said yes since I’ll have no idea where to go upon arrival lol So here’s what I did during my 7 days solo backpacking trip in Cambodia & Vietnam:

E8XQc1469970159

4:30 am – Start the Angkor Wat tour

5:00 am – Buy tickets (I bought 1 day pass)

5:30 am – SUNRISE!

6:00 am to 12nn – Explore Angkor Wat, Bayon temples & Terrace of the Leper King

12:00 nn to 1:00 pm –  Lunch/ Rest

1:00 pm to 2:00 pm – Ta Prohm

2:00 pm – 4:00 pm – Go back to town to rest

5:30 pm – Head back to Angkor Wat for Sunset

6:30 pm – Dinner/ Rest

7:00 pm – Night Market & PUB STREET! Then call it a night.

When the hostel owner asked me if I’ll stay another night (since my bus will leave at 7am the next morning) I said I want to transfer to a bed in a shared room to cut expenses. He let me use the same private room for half price ($5). The owner also bought the bus ticket to Phnom Penh for me. Thank you! I wasn’t able to see the sunset because past 1pm it started raining really hard. I saw it as an opportunity for me to roam around town to try street food. I did not think that the tuktuk ripped me off since I used it all day – we even went to Pubstreet and roamed around town to find Paracetamol. So for me it was a good deal.

Filipinos, remember that we don’t have to pay for anything at the Immigration. We have 21 days free access. I met a Filipino in Phnom Penh and he shared that he was asked to pay $2 for tax purposes at the border when crossing Vietnam. My experience crossing Cambodia to Vietnam was a breeze. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you! Haha! Also, in Cambodia, they prefer USD than Riel. So better change those PHP into USDs!

tLre51469970215

$5 – Tuktuk fare from Siem Reap Airport to New Home Hostel

$10 – Private room (good for 2-3)

$20 – Tuktuk rental (whole day)

$20 – One day access to the Major temples

$3.5 – Late lunch I had in front of the Leper King terrace (Chicken Pineapple)

$2 – 2 Bottles of water

$1 .5 – Noodles

$5 – Overnight stay in New Home Hostel

$10 – Bus to Phnom Penh

Total is USD 77/ Php3,623 – The Angkor Wat ticket is expensive I know but it was worth it! I Kat (Filipina from Davao) as I was walking along Bayon temple and she said that she rented a tuktuk for only $17. Use your haggling skills! Side note – I was astonished by how the people built the temples and carved every detail on the walls. The experience was exhausting but seriously worthwhile.

Day 2 (July 12)

That was a grueling 6-hour bus ride to Phnom Penh. I literally didn’t know where I was when I got down the bus stop but I kinda like that feeling. The place is busier, and compared to Siem, Phnom has tall buildings. I talked to a tuktuk driver to drop me off at Base Villa hostel, showed him the address and negotiated about the price. He was asking for freaking $9! We settled at $3 after a few minutes of friendly discussion. Base Villa was nice. It has a mini pool, a bar, AC rooms and the beds are comfortable. I paid $5 for 1 night. I arrived there past 2pm & wanted to make the most out of my short stay. I asked a tuktuk driver just outside the hostel for a 4-hour city tour (Killing Fields, Wat Phnom and Royal Temple). He gave a price of $18 but after a few minutes of talking we agreed on $15 (not bad since the Killing Field is too far from the city proper).

I recommend to take the audio tour in the Killing Fields so you get to know more about what happened there. It was a sad event but you’ll learn so much about Khmer history. After the Killing Fields we went to Wat Phnom. It stated there that you have to pay $1 but I didn’t see. Last stop was the Royal Temple. The tuktuk driver left me here and gave me a map to help me get back to Base Villa. I ate dinner here while watching the sunset. I had the chance to walk around the area then I headed back to the hostel. I bought my ticket to Vietnam when I arrived in the hostel. I met a solo traveller from Chile. He’s staying on the top bunk and we talked about our countries similarities.

tLre51469970215

$3 – Tuktuk from bus station to Base Villa hostel

$5 – Overnight stay in a dorm

$15 – Half day city tour

$1 – Killing Fields entrance fee

$13 – Bus to Ho Chi Minh

$3 – Food expenses

Total is Php5,459 for 2 days in Cambodia. I could’ve spent less but I chose to see the historical areas rather than not. I’ve learned so much about their culture.The tuktuk driver even had me go to their home and introduced me to his sister who works in a salon. I noted that I spent so much in transportation (buses/tuktuks) but I wanted this so, wth. Haha! I had to endure that back breaking 7 hours going to Saigon. Note that the hostels that I stayed in were capable of booking bus tickets so I did not have any difficulties choosing which bus. Also note that I avoided taking the night bus because according to the people I met and blogs I read that it is not safe (things were stolen, accident prone etc). Check out what happened next here.

A Letter for the Single

Single doesn’t mean less-than. Single is whole.

You are everything, now, in this moment: fully formed, a force to be reckoned with, all you need to be – and will ever need to be – in one perfect soul. One is a round number, remember.

Also remember that you are enough.

You are complete.

You are loved.

They’re on their way. Your person. It might not be today, though – in fact, it’s probably not today or even tomorrow – and that’s exactly how life should be. You’re not with the person of your life because YOU are the person of your life. They are extra. It will happen when it happens. But it will definitely happen.

Don’t sit and wait. Don’t simply pass the time until they arrive. You are worth a thousand more dreams than that. Continue, with full speed ahead, to be wonderful, to be you, to live life,

because your one? They need you to have stories. To be in full colour, already, without them, so that they can spot you in the otherwise black and white crowd.

You’ll need days, weeks, years, a lifetime, to fill each other in on details you have missed. And still it won’t be enough. Store up your stories for late-night pillow talk and early morning murmurs. Know that you’ll understand their life  so much more.

Appreciate your solo status. What you learn now will make you even better for them. Weathering a storm of uncertainty will make you a stronger anchor for when they lose their job, and need you to be the strong one for a while. If you pay attention to the beauty of the journey – to work, through life – you’ll never be short on ways to brighten their day. Master your favorite meals to one day share, take the trips so you know where the best spots are, look after the relationships that you do have.

Be the one you want to find, so that when the right mix of luck and serendipity explodes into a romance that you did not dare hope would look like this, they can marvel at your braveness. Revel in your adventure. Laugh at your worry that you thought this might not ever happen to you.

Don’t dare think that this is not going to happen to you. Don’t build that kind of energy around yourself, because then your person might miss you. Even the right people can fail to see through the clouds of ‘I’m not even looking for Love, anyway.”.

Yes you are.

Own it.

Own the fact that you are so in love with your life that the only thing better than having these experiences alone would be to have these experiences to share to somebody who matter.

Like attracts like: when you say you’re happier to be single, the universe will take your word. Make sure the universe knows that you’re doing your best to become the better person you need to be. For them. For yourself.

And then, one day, at a grocery store or at a friend’s birthday, at a work event or at a wedding, you’ll know. They will say hello, and it won’t feel like the first time. It will be that kind of hello that means “I’ve missed you and I don’t even know you yet.”

And slowly, you will unfold for them, and you’ll see all the parts of them, and you’ll say a prayer to the universe for ever blessing you with this much good fortune.

Your one will embrace you and thank you. They’ll thank you for holding on in there, for waiting, for not settling for something less-than when they were right around the corner, prepared to be your more-than. They’ll say thank you for trusting that it was they who would come. And every last moment of doubt will disappear like a cloudless vapor.