Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Spring Day in Monterey

Our sister is on spring break and we thought it would be nice to take her to Monterey. We made a list of several places to visit, including the popular Crepes of Brittany and the Aquarium.  We Parked at the Old Fisherman's wharf (where Crepes of Brittany was located). Parking was $1/half an hour.
Right away we can see why the place was popular. The decoration, choices (ice cream, coffee, crepes) and the view were refreshing!

For ~ $7, you get a small crepe. Having had crepes from other places in Northern California, we're not sure why the the crepes are are so popular. The quality and taste of the crepe was nothing extraordinary.
strawberry nutella crepe
 What a beautiful day it was!
making chocolate!

There are rows and rows of stores and eateries to see. We wish we had headed out to Monterey earlier in the day!

1. To fully enjoy Monterey, dress in layers.
2. wear comfortable shoes
3. Rent a bike-we were envious of the bikers in the area
4. Traffic is quite strange when you enter the city. You can avoid such traffic if you head there early!
5. The Aquarium lets you enter and exit if you get a day pass. Arrive early and take a break outside. There are plenty of eateries next to the Aquarium. Return when you're full and ready to enjoy more of the Aquarium.

Have fun!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Visiting Da Nang, Vietnam


Da Nang is the only city in Vietnam to be recognized as on the world's 20 low-carbon cities( ILO). 

view as we exit one of the caves

After a long hike, we decided to dine at Lifestyle Resort. The service was great and the food was well presented. 

mi quang, a specialty in the region

deep fried spring rolls
If there's one thing I liked most about the cuisine in Vietnam, it's the use of rice paper instead of egg paper for their deep fried spring rolls.

Tips for traveling to Da Nang:

1. If you're going in the winter, bring a portable umbrella (it rains sporadically).  
2. Bring a lotion with DEET (prevent mosquito bites) and/or drink grapefruit juice everyday two weeks before traveling (tip from an Australian traveler on our flight back to Saigon)
3. Tripadvisor app can be your best friend 
4. Taxi: avoid Mai Linh (our driver took us to a fancy restaurant instead of the one we wanted to go to because he traded his integrity for a commission). VinaSun was better. Use your tripadvisor app to locate sites.
5. Da Nang is a beach town, try to not go during rainy season.

While Da Nang has much to offer, customer service and taxi driver honesty need improvement. While at the airport, I had the irrepressible urge to hijack the loudspeaker to ask, "why is your customer service so bloody unfriendly!?"

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Visiting the Old City, Hue, Vietnam

Hue was definitely our favorite city in Vietnam.  Everything was very affordable, the people super polite and the historical sites beautiful.  Our taxi driver describes the city as a college town because many students go to Hue for college.

we were greeted by swan hearts upon entering our room <3
Our hotel room had a beautiful view of the city and the famous Perfume River.  It was also near a nice salon where one night, I went there to straighten my hair. My husband also got a haircut while waiting. They did a great job. We found that in Hue, you definitely get a lot for your money.

Unlike many parts of the world, Hue has not changed much because a major part of it became a UNESCO site. There were many cyclo drivers (an old part of Vietnamese travel) who asked us if we needed a ride. While we felt guilty to have someone bike for us, it was more sad to not use their service.  They helped us find neat places to visit and were eager to answer all our questions. We invited them to eat lunch and dinner with us and in doing so, learned about their lives.

visited Dai Noi (Citadel) on the first day in Hue
Dai Noi (former place for imperial government) was larger than I had imagined. We did not have enough time to tour the entire place, despite using a horse. 
elephant in Dai Noi (Citadel)-the Emperor used to ride this!

one of the many views from  Tomb of Tu Duc

Emperor Tu Duc was a writer and poet. This is one of the places where he sat down to write
We ate Lien Hoa Temple. The food was clean, cheap, delicious and service was impeccable. We wish that we had scheduled more time in Hue to visit all the sites, especially the beaches. It was such a nice experience!

Tips for Hue:
1. If you stay at Orchid Hotel, ask for their deluxe room or honeymoon suite.
2. If you have a chance to use the cyclo, do take them up on the offer. They're all licensed and will show you their license. They only charged us each 140,000 VND (~$7) for the entire day! That price just seemed absurd so we tipped generously.
3. Stay at least 4 days there to fully appreciate the city--beaches, river, mountains, parks, historical sites, restaurants...
4. Try to avoid summer (heard it's very hot)
5. Fly into Hue-fast & the flight was nice
6. It's cold in the winter and also sprinkles. Dress in layers.
7. If you're vegetarian, try Lien Hoa Temple.
8. If you're a food, check out restaurants on tripadvisor. Hue has many wonderful restaurants which you can try. Many offer Vietnamese French cuisine. Next time, we're definitely checking out one of the highly rated restaurants, e.g. Les Jardins de La Carambole.