What a Steal!

A couple of weeks ago, one my friends from high school visited and she’s been saying that their tourist guide has been warning them of people getting robbed in HCMC or getting ripped off. While I acknowledged that there are criminal activities in HCMC, being vigilant and aware of your surroundings when you’re out and about can thwart an untoward incident. And in my 6 years in Vietnam, I’ve never been robbed when walking the streets of Saigon.

Until yesterday.

 photo 11781796_10154037071917646_3861093248968193202_n_zpsmt05z8yc.jpgScene of the crime, Notre Dame Cathedral

I am sharing this experience not to scare people from visiting HCMC but to remind everyone that there are bad apples everywhere. And that in spite of being robbed, I still am grateful that what was only taken was a gadget that can be easily replaced (by a willing sponsor of course).

So yesterday, we got out from church at the Notre Dame Cathedral. We were waiting for friends, right outside the fully opened gate. I was holding on to my son while looking towards inside the church because my husband and younger son were still inside. The church attendant was stopping people from entering because the church will close for the morning. There were insistent locals (an elderly man and a lady wearing a hat) acting like tourists pushing me to the sides as churchgoers were spilling out of the doors.

I realize now that the man was distracting me when he spoke to me in Vietnamese while his partner in crime was unzipping my bag from behind. I felt the pressure of getting pushed ease up when the lady behind me suddenly bolted and that’s when I knew. Had I not checked my bag first, I would have caught them. But of course I just had to check. Sigh.

What an unfortunate incident. I am just glad that they did not take my wallet too. And that my phone was not too expensive. It’s actually a bit battered — well-loved and I know that they won’t be able to sell it for much. Whoever uses it won’t appreciate it as much as I do because of its sorry state. I just hope they won’t throw it away.

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Instead of going to lunch with friends, we had to go home and change our passwords. Hubby was trying to get me to change my account from his phone but in my mental state yesterday, I could not remember any of my passwords at all. When we got home and I felt more  calm, I finally remembered my passwords!

A friend was a bit surprised how easily I moved on from this episode. I am too. I know that the persons involved were desperate and most probably needed the money and I just pray whatever amount they can get from selling my phone would help someone in need.

As for me? It helps that I have a generous and understanding husband who replaced my phone and helped me change all my account passwords. For that, I am truly grateful.

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Color Crazy

Years ago, I got into coloring books. And back in those days, there weren’t any “adult coloring book”. All there was were Disney-themed or cartoon-inspired coloring books. And I had to make do. I always found coloring, therapeutic and calming.

Fast forward today, there are a number of adult coloring books in the market! I can’t believe it! And you can even download from different websites.

 photo 11800417_10154036683832646_4556824362447138693_n_zpspikieraf.jpgBeen so excited that my 12 colors couldn’t hack it anymore. Had to make some upgrade. But I hear there’s 60 colors?!?

 photo 11221351_10154036683772646_246596502766229633_n_zps7cnl5mey.jpgNo budget for 60. 36 will have to do.

And then, I’ve been hearing great feedback on Johanna Basford’s coloring books since last year. But there was none here in Vietnam. So I was trying to coordinate with friends back in Manila and Basford’s books were always sold out. But wouldn’t you know it? My good friend, Grace Maling (Hi Grace!), told me that PNC and Fahasa now have her books and more!

 photo 11836717_10154036597877646_5015168482308524044_n_zpsvivue6ru.jpgSecret Garden

They’re in Vietnamese though. But that doesn’t really matter when you do coloring.

 photo 11846503_10154036598167646_6813911826152844321_n_zpsjeyb0e3q.jpgEnchanted Forest

I’m in the look out for the Lost Ocean for a friend.

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There are Valentina Harper’s books too!

 photo 11224535_10154036598467646_6031569787732523466_n_zps4hdad1sw.jpgInspirations

 photo 11828757_10154036598742646_3105163909815956534_n_zpsfepug52e.jpgAnimals

 photo 11800180_10154036599277646_5877219998593325057_n_zpspn0qn21x.jpgMandalas

 photo 11825121_10154036599092646_6186353238901229335_n_zpsy5qfuzyd.jpgFlowers

So if you’re looking for some great way to unwind and bond with your kids, why not grab those colored pencils, and color away? :)

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Different-Different

 photo hellosaigonpic_zpsvpodazjq.pngThis post goes to Filipinos in Saigon. Am not sure if everyone will agree but this is my local experience.

In Saigon, when you get on a cab and you’ll be only traveling for a short distance, the driver is visibly irritated. In Manila, the cab driver will be ecstatic. He’d rather drive you to a short distance than drive far because of the city traffic.

In Saigon, you can use your mobile phone inside the bank and use the water closet. In Manila, use of mobile phones is prohibited to prevent bank heists of course. And there are no toilets for clients.

In Saigon, when the light turns green, vehicles can go straight, left or right creating a gridlock. In Manila, any major road has a number of U-turns — still causing traffic though.

In Saigon, sidewalks are for people, motorbikes, and vendors. In Manila, clean as a whistle. Vendors are apprehended by the MMDA.

In Saigon, you can cross the street anywhere even when motorbikes are whizzing by. In Manila, if you attempt it, you’ll see a huge sign saying, “Bawal Tumawid, Nakamamatay!” (Don’t cross the street here or you’ll die!).

In Manila, a maximum number of two people can ride a motorbike. In Saigon, two is the minimum. The more the many-er! Helmets and refrigerators optional.

In Manila, just a sign of rain will cause people to run for cover. In Saigon? A little rain wouldn’t hurt (Keri lang!). You’ll actually feel embarrassed if you open your umbrella.

In Saigon, you say “Take away” if you want to bring home food from a restaurant. In Manila, it’s “Take out” or “Take Home”.

In Saigon, am sorry but I have been in several situations when locals would want to get ahead in line in a grocery. In Manila, we endure the queue. EXCEPT when getting in the train.

How do you know if the customers are Filipinos in a Vietnamese restaurant? The table is devoid of vegetables. :P

How about you? Except for the obvious, how is your country different from Vietnam?

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Duyen’s Van Rental

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I get questions every now and then on our trusted car/van service in Saigon. And for a few years now, we’ve been using Duyen’s Van Rental.

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Last Tuesday, we helped our friends haul their stuff to the airport as they made their way back to our home country.

Duyen sent their Ford Transit which fitted 2 bicycles, a 48-inch TV, 10 odd-sized luggages, hand carries, and 9 people. :)

 photo 11822781_10154027049377646_1369801952610968481_n_zpszrf5vhqa.jpgWe have tried their 7-seater, Mercedes Benz Sprinter, and bus.  We’ve used them a number of times to Mui Ne and Da Lat and have always enjoyed their service.

Call Duyen at 0907849509.

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Dalat Hasfarms

 photo 11811509_10204279651224252_2052933380136958923_n_zpswa036njk.jpgIf you’ve been following me on Instagram or Facebook, I’d often post photos of flowers I get from Dalat Hasfarms.

It was only this weekend that I’ve tried their online shop. Ordering was easy, painless, and quick. I received a phone call confirming my order and the flowers were delivered on the dot. You can pay via credit card or cash on delivery!

Highly recommended! Don’t you just love fresh flowers?

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Boodle Fight at Halo Halo Express

When we first arrived here in Ho Chi Minh City, there was a Filipino restaurant called Little Manila near our place. Then it moved to Parkson in District 1 as Manila Fiesta. I am not actually sure if it’s still there. But then, there is Loriekot’s Lutong Bahay in District 3 — a thriving Filipino restaurant. In District 7, Mang Pedro cooks Filipino dishes in his new shop near Lotte Mart. He’s been moving around a lot but just give him a call and he can deliver right to your doorstep. There are a number of Pinoys around Ho Chi Minh City with their own specialties ranging from Dinuguan to Palabok to Embutido to Brazo de Mercedes!

 photo 20150617_121953_zpsqxwgq4pd.jpgLast month, fellow Filipino, Monet opened Halo Halo Express. But her food offerings go beyond that. I ordered sisig for take out today. :P

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And last Saturday, together with friends, we joined in the Boodle Fight!

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Boodle fight is a military style of eating where long tables are prepared and food are on top of the table. Viands and rice ready to eat using your bare hands, jugs of water are prepared on the side to wash hands before the “eating combat”.

 photo 247130_10154017968372646_8424278783065469723_n_zpsksj3n5pe.jpgMonet serves food on banana leaves and offers unlimited rice!

 photo 11232722_10154017970312646_8502686055232451533_n_zpsfmlekake.jpgSorry, was too excited to eat that I failed to wait for the grilled fish! This also includes  the Eggplant Omelette, softdrinks, and dessert! I love the grilled squid!!!

 photo 11750727_10154018057157646_3968327903674940177_n_zpsgjjgthlo.jpgThe spread is good for 4-6 people or 2 depending on your appetite! :P

You have 3 spreads to choose from and have to book in advance. I tell you, it’s well worth your 600,000 VND!

To book, just contact Monet at 0937324920. Boodle Fights are available only on Saturdays and Sundays. :)

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Marou Chocolat

Wo ai qiaokeli is the remaining sentence I still remember from my Mandarin class back in the day. I LOVE CHOCOLATE. It’s hard not to. And ever since I watched Marou Chocolat‘s video on how they search far and wide to source their cacao beans in Vietnam, I was hooked.

Marou churns out dark chocolates which I love!

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They currently have 5 flavors in the market. All based on the province where they sourced their bean: Ba Ria, Lam Dong, Ben Tre, Tien Giang, and Dong Nai.

 photo 20593_10154009564352646_488976096542828360_n_zpsj3ks2zih.jpgI am just glad that they came out with the smaller bars so you can enjoy the different flavors more.

 photo 11752093_10154009563962646_6585598442798342067_n_zps6nd3vmdz.jpgI’m not sure which bar I like best but I am slowly getting there.

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I can’t wait to try their new bar with beans sourced from Dak Lak!
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How about you? What’s your favorite from Marou?

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