Monday, November 07, 2022

Hairdresser chit chat

Good and bad day to cut hair (Source: wofs.com)

According to Tibetan almanac, today was a good day to cut your hair. Actually I wanted to cut my hair three days ago. It was also a good day to cut hair. But I spent my whole day making Momo, and by the time I finished, the sky had turned dark and the salon had closed down. 

So today, I decided to go cutting my hair after having my lunch at home. There were few places I usually went. Either the one near my house (within walking distance) or the ones at Hougang (few stops MRT away). For today, I went to the one nearby my house. 

I went in the afternoon because there was usually lesser people as many people were working, schooling, or mostly busy with their own business. I was not working anyway, so I had plenty of time to choose. 

As I guessed correctly, it was only one customer before me and there was 1 available so I could start cutting hair as soon as I entered the salon. 

My hairdresser was a Malaysian lady in her early to mid 20s. She was from KL and had just come here for 5 months. Before that, she worked the same job in PJ for 4 years.

How did I know? She told me all these as we were chatting incessantly as soon my butt hit the chair. Perhaps she was bored and I might be her first customer in the day. So when she saw me, she was happy to finally find someone to talk. 

She asked lots of questions to me. Usually I preferred staying quiet through the whole process but today, I decided chatting with her back. 

The questions she asked were as per below:

- Had I come here before? When was it?

- When we the last time I cut my hair?

- Where did I usually cut my hair? Was it the only place or I went to many different places?

- What hairstyle I wanted to have today? (This was a very generic question as she wanted to know which direction she needed to go as she cut my hair) She would tell me what hair style suited me better and easier to maintain. 

The reason I cut my hair (Pic source: buzzfeed.com)

- Had I eaten lunch?

- Did I stay nearby here?

- She noticed about my hair colour I applied about a year ago. She asked if I applied it myself? She commented that I had very less white hair, although I told her it started growing more and more lately, because some people would show bunches if it at the root

- Did I eat black sesame often? (She believed that by eating it often, it would help the black hair to keep growing - instead of white ones)

- She also noticed I had many baby hair, so I told her after hair dropped, the baby hair would automatically grow. She said, not everyone would grow it. So it might because I was having healthy hair. Or maybe because I was still young

- Did I usually curl my hair? She mentioned that she did it sometimes. I told her I liked keeping my hair simple (actually I also had no idea on how to do it and never had interest of doing it)

- Had I tried cutting my fringe short before? I told her not for a long time. When was the last time? I said, I could not remember. I just did not like it. And she agreed, because I would have to cut it short for every few weeks (she herself had short fringe though, so I bet she knew how it felt)

- How old was I? She guessed I was in my 30s. Oh before that she was asking me if I wanted to remove my mask, and I did. So she could see my overall face. I just smiled upon her guess and did not reply. 

- Not satisfied, she was asking if I had children. I asked her back, what would she think? She said, yes. Again, I did not say whether I had or not but I told her that women did not usually reveal her age to anyone and she was no longer pestering me on this matter

- Didn't I have to work today?

- How many day or days my day or days off was or were? Saturday Sunday? (In Singapore, this question was indirectly asking if I worked office job or operation kind of work)

- Was I having plan for early retirement? Because she said many people were dreaming of it. I was thinking, she was in her early 20s, so it was normal for her to have this kind of thinking, or even dream about it

- She also mentioned that many people did not work as they wanted to travel. It led to her next question whether I had any plan to travel soon, and where to? 

- What would I do after cutting hair? Would I go out? When I told her I would go home, she asked why I did not go out? Not boring? (It seemed to me that she was the one who was bored)

This happened to me earlier too lol (Pic source: buzzfeed.com) 

Our chat was stopped when she washed my hair, but after that she would continued until whole process was over. 

Lol... she was so young yet she was so energetic with those incessant questions and chatting. I think she could think of changing her job to become reporter or detective instead of hairstylist. She was the youngest among other staffs though, so maybe she was just too happy when she met young customers like me :P At least she got her job done well and I had my hair cut as I wanted.

Saturday, November 05, 2022

Traveling alone?

Yourself can be a great accompany too!!! (IG: Rimareyka.writes)

People always asked me how could I manage to travel alone? Alone here, did not always mean alone physically, but it was more in a sense of traveling alone without spouse, parents, friend, and so on. 

Looking back, I had done so many times in my life. Sometimes, I could not even believe myself, how did I do it, traveling alone, as far as to US, Europe, Japan, and so on. 

It was a bless that my spouse gave me the trust and permission for all my traveling trips. Not many spouse would understand that dream of yours to visit the world, to experience life outside your comfort zone, to realise your dreams, and to enjoy your own time. I was indeed blessed in that matter and I always felt grateful for him. 

Many of us, especially women, would love to travel and see the world. But due to circumstances (could not take time off together with your loved ones, did not have enough budget for two or more, partner might not be interested in traveling or the destination, just could not find anyone to travel with, and so on), we ended going alone, that too, if you had courage to do so. 

Yes, many of us had been travelling. They could sign travel package from travel agent as it was the easiest thing to go with no worry and you would find many others who were at the same boat traveling with you that way. They had their spouse, family, and friends to travel with them. 

But what if you were really alone and just wanted to be alone? I just realised, traveling alone was not just for everyone.

When my hubby had to travel alone to meet me in Penang few months ago, he was filled with anxiety. It had been long time (due to Covid-19) since the last time he went abroad. That too, mostly with my accompany.  He was worried so much about the trip, especially the procedures that he had to go through during the check-in. He could not sleep the night before, and kept messaging me how to do it. And he told me too, when he was successing with the check-in procedures and everything, when he reached Penang airport feeling proud of himself, and when he came out to the arrival area, he then realised that he forgot to collect his luggage at the conveyer belt. Lol..... :P He had to ask the security officer's permission to enter the collection luggage area to take his luggage. Hahahaha..... this might give him a good lesson for his next travelling trip and memories to laugh with in the future time. 

Anyway, I just thought about it and come out with few things to suggest when you felt like traveling and happened you gotta be alone. 

One life with many choices ahead (IG: Rimareyka.writes)

First, ask yourself, what you want to reach from this trip. The goal, the dream, the purpose. Let me get example from one of my trips - 10-day silent meditation trip in Thailand. You could read the post here

"Been wanting to experience living in Ashram or undergo the silence meditation retreat, being away from outer world (no phone, email, Facebook, selfie, etc.) over certain period of time, at least once in my lifetime." - that was my goal and purpose. 

Second, find someone who were interested to join you for the trip. 

In my case, not everyone wanted to go through the 10-day silent meditation trip, as I mentioned in that post, and I ended up having to go through the meditation trip alone, by myself, to somewhere I had never been to. 

However, my ex-classmate was interested with meeting me in Bangkok and later on Chiang Mai. With that, I aligned with her intention and set how many days should I arrange the whole trip. 

Third, find any friends who happened staying at the city or country. If you read the post, I arranged meeting up with my Bhutanese friend who was studying there. And he brought 2 of his friends together, which I ended up knowing more friends from this trip. I was really nervous since it had been 10 years since the last time I visited Bangkok and since I was on budget, it was my first time travelling using Bangkok's train from the airport, and to Chaiya (southern of Thailand - the nearest train station from the meditation's place). 

When meeting him, I felt it boosted my confident to be in the area, felt safer (because they too lived there comfortably - I no more had to scared of getting kidnapped and got my organ stolen - effect of watching movie the day before lol!), and adjusted with the place much faster. So, it was kind of getting moral support, even the meeting was only a brief. 

Fourth, when feeling unsure about anything, or feeling lost, do not hesitate to ask anyone surrounding you. 

In this post, you could read about my day 2 trip. I had no idea how to get to the meditation place and ended up asking a Thai woman who knew only limited English. I did not know any Thai language as well so I tried using simple English mentioning the place I wanted to reach, plus body language. I ended up getting free ride to the destination and until now, it was still feeling like a dream. I still felt that Buddha was blessing me all the way, sending me all those kind people I met all along my way to help and guide me.

Fifth, make friends along the way. Well, since it was 10-day silent meditation trip, we had to be silent, meaning no talk was allowed during the 10 day we were there. But we (girls) stayed at the same compound, we met every time especially those who slept at the room near your room. So eye contact was there and after the meditation over, we made friends to each other. Some of them were still in my Instagram or Facebook contacts. I even met one of them once when I travelled to her hometown in Russia!

Sixth, when travel alone, find a safe location to stay. If you are on budget, stay at homestay would be good as you have a chance to meet many other travellers like you, and can travel and do many things together, but most importantly, paying less on accommodation. Keep your belonging safe is a must do by putting it at safe place (safe deposit box if available, if not, inside belt or pouch and put them beneath your clothes), plus, try to be sober as much as you can (you will never know what others do when you are in drunk mode and having blackout).

When I had more budget, I would usually look for a place not far from train station. I felt that the place was generally crowded (especially at night time). It would safer when more people were still walking around than the quiet place. 

I would read the review before deciding where to stay too, because I believe good or bad experience was the best teacher in life.

Seventh, find activity even when you are alone. In Chiang Mai, when my friend had to attend her massage class, I had to roam the city alone. 

I could find so many activities available from the hotel, website, and so on. I attended cooking class (made friends there as well), signed up daily tour to nearby place, tried many different massages available - from aroma therapy oil body massage, traditional Thai massage with lots of stretching, foot reflexology to Tok Sen hammering massage, browsed the old and new city, tried many different local Thai dishes, and so on. 

When doing all that, you would forget about your loneliness, and focused more on each moments. In other words, find activities that keeps you busy. 

Eight, always inform your whereabout to your loved one. Internet is available at many places, so make good use of it. I had to inform my spouse when I had the 10- day silent meditation trip and gave the staff my emergency contact in case something happened to me during the ten days because I had to keep my mobile phone with the staff (we were not allowed to use it). Not wanted to make others worry, was my priority. So as and when, I would update my whereabout to message them feeling safe as well. 

Traits for solo traveller (IG: Rimareyka.writes)

So, who said you would be lonely when travelling alone??? As long you had good intentions, the path would be there and shown to you. And always believed, that everything happened only for good reasons. 

After reading this, hope you would kill your doubt of traveling alone, and you would benefit even more as you would find out more about yourself (in various situations), like how you would handle problems and uncertainty, and many many more!!! It would shape yourself to be even more brave and more courage to travel many new places in the world.  Hope this post will motivate you and give you strength too to follow your dreams, hopes and destiny in life!!! :)

Friday, November 04, 2022

First attempt making the Bhutanese Momo on my own

Delicious Bhutanese Momo and chilli made by KD :)

I was visiting my Bhutanese friend almost two weeks ago. When I reached, she and her husband had prepared the Bhutanese Momo (dumpling) for my arrival. 

It had been 5 years since my last visit to Bhutan, but on and off, I tasted the Bhutanese momo once in a while - during my travel to Sri Lanka and Kolkata. But after Covid-19, it had already been more than 3 years I did not taste it. 

I was seated and they served mountains of Momo right in front of me. I took a piece and ate it with the chilli she made. After the first bite, I was awed by it!!! It tasted like Bhutan only, and no where else. 

I had eaten various Chinese dumplings throughout my life, but none tasted like this, especially this was vegetarian. The chilli too, was special. Waaaahhhhhh..... you could not imagine how happy I was!!!

Me and my two hosts :)

I asked her what ingredients she used inside the Momo and the chilli. She explained to me. But after more than one bottle of wine, my memory was just more or less. Hahahaha....

There was one special ingredient inside the chilli she made, which was Szechuan pepper. I saw it at Chinese supermarket 2 days ago and it intrigued me of buying it, as I really wanted to try to make the chilli like she made. So I bought it.

As I went to supermarket looking for red chilli powder, I thought, why not made the Momo as well??? So I picked ingredients for making Momo as well. But before that, I consulted her again regarding the ingredients, to ensure I did not miss anything. 

And today, I spent my whole afternoon making it, all by myself. 

Bhutanese chilli for Momo

Chilli ingredients:

- 1.5 pcs red onion

- 2 pcs tomato

- Oil

- Salt

- Szechuan pepper (or tinge)

- Red chilli powder

How to make:

- Cut both red onion and tomato into pieces

- Put oil into the pan

- Put both ingredients in it and stir

- Add salt

- Add pepper, and fry for a while

- Grind it using machine the above mixture and pour the red chilli powder as much as you want (you can add chilli padi if you want it spicier)

- Then it is ready

Momo skin:

- Maida or all purpose flour (I bought 1kg but I only used around 700g and the rest was to shape the skin)

- Water (no idea the quantity, as long until the skin was moisture enough)

How to make:

1- Mix both flour and water into mixing bowl

- Mix it using hands, knead it until it mixes well and moisture enough (not too dry)

- Cover with wet napkin so it will not dry 

Vegetarian Bhutanese Momo Ingredients

Momo ingredients:

- Cabbage (I used around 3/4 piece)

- 3 big red onions 

- 1 bunch of coriander

- 8 pcs of cheese slices (I put more since I like it :D)

How to make:

- Peel and cut red onion into small pieces

- Wash and cut the Cabbage into small pieces

- Wash and cut the Coriander into small pieces

- Cut the slice cheese into small piece

- Add all ingredients together into the bowl

- Add oil and salt into it and mix all together

Preparation of Momo ingredients

Once the above ready, now it was time to shape the skin and wrap. I spread the flour on the table. I removed the dough from the bowl, cut into half. Put another half portion back to the bowl and cover.

Cut the dough and made it into small balls. With the help of roller, flatten the ball into round piece, put the ingredients inside, and shaped it one by one. 

Tbh, I was really bad at shaping the skin. As I did not often make it, in beginning part I made such a giant piece. Hahaha..... It took me some time until I made it smaller pieces. That too, I made ugly shapes ^^"

Wrap the Momo

Remember to put some flour on the tray before putting the Momo, otherwise it would stick and break the Momo skin. Keep repeating the process until both skin and fillings finished. 

I started making at 1pm and finished preparing at 4.30pm. It was quite slow as I had to prepare it alone. 

Time to steam the Momo!!!

I used the electrical steamer to steam the Momo. It was easy and fast. Just plugged the cable, filled water at bottom part, put Momo in each tray, stacked them all, covered and let it steam around 25 minutes. 

Once ready, took it out and transferred it to plates or bowls and continued the steam process as required. 

Homemade Bhutanese Momo

And tadaaaaa....... that was the result!!! 

As first timer, let me rate the taste and overall making process. Hahaha.... 

First the chilli. I felt I put too much tomatoes (3 small pcs) as the tomato taste was quite strong. The pepper that I bought did not smell strong and too powdery. Next time, will try not powder type, so can get better and stronger flavour. The red chilli powder was not spicy. I just anyhow picked any brand from supermarket, so that was why the taste was different from the one I had at KD place. But overall, it was still good and still fit the Momo very well :)

Second the dough for Momo skin. I am not the expert in making and shaping dumpling dough. Just do whatever I can, so I did not expect very good result as well. Since I made it for own (family) consumption, it did not matter hahahaha.... but definitely not confident enough to make it for guests. 

Third, the fillings. It was good but I think I should have put more oil. It was a little bit dry. I thought salt would produce water into my vegetable ingredients, but it did not. So KD mentioned to put little bit more so it would not dry. 

Happy Eater :D

And so far, my hubby and son had tasted it. With hungry stomach, of course it was good for my hubby, while my son preferred dumpling with meat ingredients ^^"

Will I make it again next time? Hmm.... perhaps, but not so soon. The time and effort spent was too much but it still made me happy. I posted my experience here so I would not forget it and make the better one next time :)

Have you yourself tried making it on your own? If yes, I guess you are quite pro with it and if you have better suggestion, please do not hesitate to comment or pm me. Thank you for reading and have a lovely day! :)

Thursday, November 03, 2022

One Punggol

One Punggol - Singapore

It still feels like a dream. 

We moved to this area ten years ago and that time there was nothing surrounding our housing block. Our block was kind of pioneer buildings in the area. I still remembered how we could see sunset from inside the Punggol MRT station. But now, we saw only buildings around. 

The building above was what we were hoping for since we moved and finally, after a decade of waiting, it started to operate slowly, starting first from the hawker center. 

One Punggol Hawker Centre

It was finally here!!! We had only one food shop at bus interchange when we first moved in. Around 1 to 2 years later, there was another alternative nearby our house and few years later, another one or two. We had very limited choices of food to buy but we had to live with it. And then the Waterway Point (shopping mall) was opened in January 2016.

I still remembered that almost everyone who stayed nearby were walking to the shopping mall first few days and weeks of its opening day. The feeling was like we were all exciting that finally something like this came to our neighbourhood. 

So this time, One Punggol too. As I came today, I saw many people like me were curious about this new building. We all walked around, level by level, tried finding out what were available now, and what would open in the near future. 

Just like me, they too clicked photos here and there, and perhaps, shared it to social media. The hawker center has been opened days ago. It was crowded this afternoon. 

"A total of 34 stalls will be available when the hawker centre is fully functioning, with more than 700 seats," as written by mothership.sg 

I might buy something later but earlier, I was just walking and looking around. I saw some familiar shops, but many were new brands. Eating area on the side was airy. Perhaps because today was such a cloudy and rainy day. If weather was hot, the big celling fan would be very useful. 

Blood donation center would also available at this floor. 

One Punggol Directory

The building had 5 levels with car park area at the basement. You could check the detail in the photo above. 

For now, we could only visit up to fourth storey. They blocked the access to fifth level. It took some time ba!

The content looked exciting though!!! Karaoke! BBQ pits! Community garden! Sun deck? Sky deck? I was looking forward into it!!!

I heard it would have four badminton courts at the multi purpose hall. I was not a badminton fans and not a player either, but I was happy for them. 

Dance Studio - One Punggol

Dance studio at level 3 had already functioned. I saw people bringing yoga mat earlier. And now they used the room for dancing. Wah, one day, I would be able to join them as well. Would check the One Punggol website soon!!! :)

At fourth floor, there would be dialysis center, KKH department of child development, culinary studio, music studio, Senior care center and so on. It would be useful for everyone who needed it. 

Punggol Regional Library coming soon in 2023

For those who knew me, would have guessed correctly of what I was waiting for!!! Yes, the Punggol Regional Library!!! Waaaaa..... I was really looking forward!!! But it would not be ready that soon. It was expected to open in early 2023. Now they were still under construction. 

Punggol Library under construction

One Punggol was only 8-minute away from Waterway Point and it took around 10 minutes from my house to Waterway Point. A brief walk would be fine as a form of exercise. 

Playgrounds between Waterway Point to One Punggol

Covered walkway was available from Waterway Point to One Punggol with many seats, playgrounds, and exercise grounds built along the way. 

Basket ball ground and other facilities

Basket ball grounds and many other facilities were also available near One Punggol. Students could use it during their school holiday. It could benefit any ages from the very young to the senior range. 

Even just to sit and relax, enjoy their break or lunch, these places would be beneficial for everyone. 

The miniature of One Punggol

For now the space looked so big. Seats were everywhere. As I wrote this post, I was sitting at one of the benches provided. With the cloudy weather and giant ceiling fan above me, I could sitting and writing this post comfortably :)

Just realised even my shirt was matching with building colour ^^"

Hahahaha.... After this, I would go up to the hawker and have a bowl of ah balling peanut soup. So convenient. I did not have to go faraway place to have it :)

So, free free, go and visit this place ok? Even as foreigner who comes to Singapore. Wish everyone a good day ahead!!! ;)

We all deserve it, even if takes time

Try and never give up (Instagram: rimareyka.writes)

As we all grow up, we would have encountered and experienced many things in life. The rollercoaster ride of life makes us feeling happy, and sad. We cannot just ignore it. It is part of our growing process. 

At one time, we reach certain age, when we look back of where we were. Then we would realise, somehow, one way to another, each of us carries our luggage - emotional luggage - in our hearts.

We may or may not want to remember. But most of the time, we may want to ignore it. But somehow, some event would trigger it to come back. No matter how positive you are, somehow, it hurts you. 

The hormone makes it worse. It makes you to undergo emotional rollercoaster once again. Alas!!! How could it be? You wonder. And you will start wonder about everything, from the past to the present moment. 

You are who you are. You have your own thinking, principle, and behave that way. But others have their own too, which you cannot deny its existence. 

It is just sometimes, you begin questioning yourself, "Am I not doing it right? Isn't it what I supposed doing?" All thought again comes at once. I wonder, and wonder. 

It takes time. It is indeed taking time. The urge to stabilise my thinking is there. Not just thinking, in my mind, but also, the healing, it takes part too. I feel, I need to heal too...

The mindfulness, does not mean meditation, of what is going on in my heart and mind, keeps me thinking, over and over again. 

To be the person who I am not, is hurting me. "I do not have to be like that." But I just keep wondering, are many being like that??? Am I not normal??? That is not what I want to be at the first place though, although the feeling stirs inside. It may give wrong signals to people I know, and I do not want them to misunderstand. It is just I am thinking and examining my thought.

It takes time, to slowly bounce back. Even now, I am still in the journey, not yet reaching the destination. 

"Give myself time."

"Today is a good day to start."

"This book may help me."

"Alone time is what I need now."

"Journaling helps."

"Keep being mindful with my thought."

"You are not alone."

"Always look at the bright side of life."

"Count my gratitude every single day."

"Be loving, especially to myself."

"I need it the most right now."

Dalai Lama Quote (Pic source: Google.com)

And to help me being positive, I recall the Dalai Lama's quotes as per follow:

"Every day, think as you wake up: Today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it."

"The goal is not to be better than the other man, but your previous self."

"An open heart is an open mind."

"Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible."

"Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace."

"Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck."

"A disciplined mind leads to happiness, and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering."

"The purpose of our lives is to be happy."

"People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they are not on your road does not mean they have gotten lost."

"We don't need more money, we don't need greater success or fame, we don't need the perfect body or even the perfect mate. Right now, at this very moment, we have a mind, which is all the basic equipment we need to achieve complete happiness."

"Happiness is the highest form of health."

Hope this post inspires you today, motivate you, lead you to the life you want it to be. Even if takes time, as long as we want, one day we will reach there. One step at a time. 

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Another Memorable Journey From Sapa :D

Oh oo.... (Pic source: Google.com)

I felt like that day was really not my day, like lots of things were just wrong. It started as early as 2.30am when I woke up for my toilet break. The room was dark and I found out that there was not electricity inside our room. I used the torch apps from my mobile to go to toilet and back to my bed right after.

I finally woke up again at 6.30am and the electricity was still not there. I wanted to take bath and wash my hair but suddenly I was worrying that the heater might not there since the electricity was not available. I sent message to Jacky and informed him about my situation. He checked with the hotel and soon he got back to me, saying that the staff was trying to resolve the issue and I still could use the water heater since the hotel had the generator back-up. I thanked him for checking it out and immediately went to bathroom. And just nice when I finished bathing, the electricity returned, so I could blow my hair dry right after.

My body had gotten better comparing with the night before. The fever had gone and I was strong and well to face another new day in Sapa. 

Handmade sling bag by Dinh - Sapa, Vietnam

We had our breakfast in the hotel and later on Dinh came bringing her handcraft souvenirs like bags, wallets, hanging decoration, and showed those to us, as per promised the day before. It was not all handmade though. She brought the machine made stuffs as well. I bought sling bag, wallet, and hanging decoration thing and bargained reasonable price from her (not too low as I thought of 4 young children that she had to feed back home).

The car that picked us up was coming late due to the marathon event that was going on in the area. We were brought to the Sun World Fansipan cable car station as we wanted to reach the Mount Fansipan. The mountain's height was 3147 meter's height, the highest mountain in the Indochinese Peninsula, hence called "The Rooftop of Indochina."

Sun World Fansipan Cable Car - Vietnam

Dinh did not follow us, so it was only two of us. She only handed us the online ticket to enter the cable car for return trip and waited us there at the station until we came back. When weather was good, the view from the cable car supposed to be beautiful. But as I said earlier, it seemed like it was not really my day. It rained a little on our way up and when we reached the temple on top, we were surrounded mostly by fogs. 

Sun World Fansipan Cable Car

One cable car could fit up to 35 people inside. Ours was quite full, mostly filled by Vietnamese visitors. They came as a big group and were talking loudly with each other, as if only them occupied the cable car. Aileen and I were just sitting down, trying to enjoy the scenery and hoping that they could lower down their voice or just stop talking, but to no avail :D So we endured lo until reached the station.

Kim Sơn Bảo Thắng Tự Buddhist Temple - Fansipan, Vietnam

Good thing that the rain did not last long. It stopped after a while. I went inside the Kim Sơn Bảo Thắng Tự temple and offered my prayer there before continuing our journey up. There were so many succulent plants around there, decorating the temple and area beautifully. 

f
Fogs everywhere - not our day :D

From there, we could choose to go up either by staircases or by funicular. Aileen's ankles were not well, and I was not in my tip top condition as well, so we both chose taking funicular. The cable car ticket was included in our tour package, but not the funicular, so we had to pay on our own. Ticket for going up was VND99,000 and for return trip would be VND178,000 per pax.

How the view should like on a clear day (Expectation) Pic source: Google map

Hahahahaha... If you saw the photos I posted earlier (the reality), was really different from the expectation right? Nevertheless, I still felt grateful for being able to be there and enjoyed my stay as much as I could.

Our funicular ride to the peak of Mount Fansipan, Vietnam

We purchased the hot cinnamon apple drink once we reached the top. It was sweet, so we asked the seller to add hot water into it. I really loved it!!! We brought it and had it later at the summit.

Posed with Vietnam flag at the Mount Fansipan Summit :)

We took a rest there. Just nice a group of people came and one of them brought a guitar. They sang Vietnam songs which I did not understand. But I enjoyed the melody and the joy they brought for us. It made our trip special. Despite the foggy weather, we were given something extra, that made us happy :)

Made the trip enjoyable to the fullest :)

I thought they might be some famous Vietnamese singers, so I took photo with them. Hahahahaha.... But when I showed it to Jacky, he had no clue of who they were :D

Sapa view from the cable car - Fansipan, Vietnam

After some time we went down by funicular and the walked towards the cable car station. We took the cable car back and took more photos as the rain had stopped and weather had somehow become clearer.

Sapa rice terraces

And as we got nearer to the station, we could see the beautiful rice terraces from the above. Overall, we had a good time there and enjoyed as much as we could.

Chợ Sapa Market - Lao Cai, Vietnam

Dinh came to pick us and we went to Le Gecko Cafe for lunch. After that we went to the Chợ Sapa Market, located not very far from the restaurant. We walked there.

Inside the Chợ Sapa Market

We browsed around the market throughout the whole places. They were selling local produces there, such as: nuts, flower tea, herbal medicines, dried fruits, grains, spices, and so on.

Wet market at the building behind - Chợ Sapa market, Vietnam

At the building behind, there were food stalls selling cooked food. Behind that, they were selling meat, vegetables, snacks, drinks, and so on.

Chợ Sapa Market - Vietnam

We had a chance for last minute shopping before going back to Hanoi. You could purchase the macadamia nut and cashew nut (still with its shell) there as gifts back home. Their herbal tea was special too. You could try before buying them. At some shop, the seller gave sample for people to try. They were also selling fake brand trekking clothes. Local handicrafts and souvenirs could also be found.

Passing by Sapa town

Dinh sent us back to our hotel at 2pm. On the way there, we passed by the beautiful Sapa lake (which was beautiful at night time too - as they put lighting decorations), and view of Sapa town. I did not know that Sapa town could be quite big. Many hotels, shops, and restaurants there. I felt like I only browsed less than 50% of it (due to limited time and not a very healthy body). But it was fine lah.

Passing by the beautiful Sapa Lake

We had a final packing and took some rest at the hotel lobby before continuing our journey back to Hanoi. The van came at 3.30pm, much later than expected. We were the first passengers he picked, and the driver lost ways while picking up the rest of the passengers. Perhaps he was new and was not familiar with hotels and places in the area. It took more than half an hour until we left Sapa town.

Beautiful Sapa rice terrace on our way back to Hanoi

The rice terrace view was beautiful. But too bad we could not stop and take good photos. So I could only took photos from inside the van, and many wires could be shown, some resulted in blurry pictures. Hehehe.. better than nothing. We had three break stops before reaching Hanoi. The driver sent us the last, that too, to the wrong hotel.

Hahahaha... what a day, really!!! I think we reached hotel around 10.40pm. I was very tired and hungry too. Jacky was in the hotel waiting for us. The hotel staffs who knew our condition, welcomed us back with friendly smile. We checked in and put our luggage and went out for supper with Jacky.

Vietnamese chicken noodle - Hanoi, Vietnam

I wanted to eat something soupy and he brought us to the stall above by Grab. It was not very far from where we stayed but it was quite late already (around 11pm) and he knew we both were tired and hungry from our journey, that was why we took Grab there.

Aileen and I had chicken noodle soup while Jacky had the dried one (he said dried one nicer). While eating, Jacky asked us how our trip was. He asked all kind of feedback from both of us so that he could improve what not and take note what had already good.

After finished, we walked back to our hotel. Before saying goodbye, he handed each of us souvenir from Hanoi (now hung on my house's wall). He also passed a bottle of water for each of us and gave me herbal candy when he knew my throat was unwell.

I was very lucky being able to know him not only as our tour guide and emergency contact, but we had also become friend now. At any time, I could message him asking something about Vietnam and he always replied it as soon as he could. He was reliable, helpful, and friendly. Based on our feedback, he made the follow up the day after with the company that he engaged with, to ensure he could offer better service for the next following customers.

That was why I would not hesitant to give his contact to anyone who had interest to visit Hanoi, and if you too wanted to use his travel service, please do not hesitate to contact him here or you could message me for his contact number too :)

Thank you Jacky for your service, help, guide, hospitality, and friendship that you offered for both of us. Stay in touch and wish you all the best for your travel business :)

Local souvenirs - Hanoi Airport

We flew back home the day after and was provided with transfer service from our hotel to the Hanoi Airport. You could have last minute shopping inside the airport too, as there were so many shops selling souvenirs, as well as snacks and Vietnam liquor. You could pay both in Vietnamese Dong and USD.

Guess what I bought??? Hahahahha....

Monday, October 31, 2022

Vietnam Trip - Memorable Journey to Sapa :D

Memorable journey to Sapa :D (Photo source: Google.com)

I never thought that my journey to Sapa would be the unforgettable moment of my traveling life. When on our first day Jacky told us to be our emergency contact, whenever and wherever we needed, I never thought that I would need the service so badly. Here was the story.

We were fetched by our driver at 7am in the morning. We left early because it took around 6 hours to reach Sapa from Hanoi. Aileen and I had filled our stomach full with breakfast provided by our hotel. Since it was a long journey, I made sure I had enough food until reaching there in the afternoon.

The van was slowly leaving Hanoi. My phone network started becoming so weak when we entered the highway. I could not browse the internet. Suddenly, I felt my stomach wanting to pee. That was one thing I most afraid of when traveling on road, toilet break. I told myself not think about it, and tried to sleep instead. Sometimes it worked.

I closed my eyes and breathed, trying to catch some sleep. However, instead of reducing the urge for peeing, the reaction changed to a bigger feeling. I wanted to go for big business instead. The wind and various feelings stirred inside my stomach. Oh my God!!! 

I breathed in deeply, concentrated not to make it worse. I looked outside the van's window. It was highway, and only highway. We just left in less than an hour from Hanoi. It would be impossible for the van to go to resting area so soon, that too, if it was available. I started to panic.

I told Aileen who was seated next to me, "Leen, could you inform the driver that I wanted to go to toilet?" She said she did not know how to say as our driver knew only Vietnamese language (usually the driver did not know any English. Their duty was just to send us from hotel to the destination and stopped at resting area sometimes. They used finger to tell us how long we would stop before continuing the journey again.

I opened the Google translation apps on my mobile, trying to translate toilet to Vietnamese language. But as my phone could not catch the network, I was helpless. Aileen also used the same SIM card (I purchased both SIM card together from Singapore), but luckily her network was working. So maybe the problem lies with my three-year-old mobile phone. 

We were seated on third row inside the van. So I had to force Aileen to translate the word fast and inform the driver fast too. She immediately translated the word and went to the driver, showed him the word to him. I saw him nodding, and continued the journey.

The problem was, the speed was the same. I kept looking on my left and right. There was no lane for car to stop. Even if it was there, there was no toilet available. No place to hide as well. All was plain and open space, with some buildings at the side.

Oh my God!!! This would not work!!! My stomach was squeezing and squeezing. I was holding on, trying to endure as much as I could. "Aileen, could you call Jacky please??? Ask him to call the driver, telling him to stop for toilet. It is really bad. I can not hold it so long now," pleaded me. 

She dialed Jacky's number (the emergency number he gave us) and told him about my situation. After calling him, it took a while until the driver received the call from Jacky. When his phone rang, I was relieved. They were talking for a while. The driver looked at me from the rearview mirror. I also looked at his eyes, showing my pale face, pleading face, with no word, trying to tell him to help me as fast as he could!

Once he finished the phone call, he started racing. Hahahahahaha..... I was not kidding. He was really racing on the highway. He kept honking the horn and cutting out lanes, just like the ambulance bringing the patient who was in emergency situation. Wahhh.... when he drove like that, I was really feeling relieved. I thanked my emergency messenger - both Aileen and Jacky - deep inside my heart, for helping me in such situation.

Later on, Aileen received message from Jacky, saying that the driver would drop me to the Airport, and asking me to go to the toilet there. The van was racing with time. I told the rest of the passenger, "Sorry everyone, I am in emergency for going to toilet," because I did not want them to complain about it to the van company and thought of the driver to be reckless unnecessarily. 

I was enduring as much as I could. When I saw the airport signage coming up, I was praying that the distance to there would not be far, hoping that there would not be traffic jam, the stopping area would not be crowded with cars, and toilet would not be far and crowded with people.

Thank Buddha, Buddha heard it all!!! The distance was not far, it was not crowded at all, no traffic with other vehicles, the toilet was not far from the place where the van stopped, and it was empty whenever I reached there, as if the toilet was waiting for me and the rest of situation was really advantaging my situation.

Once the van stopped, I opened the van door, and ran as fast as I could. As I entered, my eyes looked frantically for the toilet sign. When I saw, I immediately ran towards it and went into the first empty cubicle I saw and released!!!! Hahahahahahaha........

Oh myyy..... it was really an embarrassing moment for me to experience!!! I released whatever things that wanted to go out from my stomach. Aileen accompanied me to toilet as well. When I went out from the building, the driver was entering, wanting to go to the toilet. He saw me and smiled, he was asking me if I was ok using his two thumbs. I showed my two thumbs as well and thanked him for the ride!!! He was smiling sheepishly but happy at the same time because he managed helping me in such urgent situation. I was deeply grateful for him and his effort. Without it, I could not imagine what situation I would be inside the van.....

I thanked Jacky too for conveying my message to the driver afterwards (there was network connection in the area). When he was back, we continued the journey to Sapa.

On our way, Jacky told me to give the driver some money to cover the entrance fee to the airport. I told him not to worry about it. I would give even without him noticing me and when we stopped for first resting area, I handed in some money for him as I went down from the van and said "cảm ơn" to him (means "thank you").

The driver was surprised when saw me handing him the money and he immediately refused. I told him, for the parking fee earlier, and he waved his both hands, asking me not to give him anything but I insisted. I just left it at the basket filled with fruits next to him and went down. He was so good, wasn't he??? 

With a rescued driver who brought us to Sapa 

We reached Sapa town at around 1.15pm. Our local guide, Dinh, was waiting for us when we reached. After collected our luggage, suddenly our driver talked to her, asking us to take photo with him. I was wondering why he suddenly wanted to take photo with us (not to any other passenger there). That too, he was requesting to take with my mobile phone and not his. 

Anyway, we still took the photo. Later on, the driver talked to Dinh again, asking her to tell us that he would be around Sapa tonight and in case we wanted accompany for drink, could ask her to contact him. Lol....

We had lunch first at Red Dzao House before checking in to our hotel - La Casa Sapa Hotel. We put our luggage inside the room and refreshed for a while. When readied, we headed to Cat Cat Village - the first destination stated in our itinerary.

On our walking path towards Cat Cat Village

We took car to the entrance. It took us only about 10 minutes time. We walked down through the staircases. There were shops on our left and right selling mostly souvenirs (traditional clothes, accessories, traditional dry herbs, and so on).

Throughout walking path towards Cat Cat Village - Sapa, Vietnam

You could rent their local dress and wear it there. We spotted many local Vietnamese renting the dress and took photos with beautiful scenery. It was too troublesome to wear the cloths for me, so I skipped it. While walking we asked many questions to our guide about anything we wanted to know. She told us many about her and her family condition, her situation due to Covid, and so on.

Sapa is famous for its magnificent view of sloping rice terraces. You could spot the view while walking too. It was greenish and yellowish as the season was in September. It was located in the hill, therefore, the weather was cooling.

Waterfalls in Cat Cat Village - Sapa, Vietnam

Soon we reached the Cat Cat Village and welcomed with beautiful waterfalls. We were given free time to enjoy the scenery and watch performance shown by local minority who stayed in the area.  

Traditional performance by Hmong minority - Sapa, Vietnam

We took photo with Dinh at the picture above. She was wearing her traditional cloth and her handmade weaving bag. She said she waived a lot during Covid-19 period as she did not have guiding job to do. She made many handcrafts so that she could sell now to her guests. I requested her to bring some of her handmade produces the day after as my friend was interested to get one.

Photo taking set on the left side with people wearing the rented traditional clothes

The place was beautiful, but very touristic. Many manmade items were made to cater tourists, especially photo taking place set next to the river. I did not really like it. I preferred natural beauty over manmade stuffs. But many were enjoying though, especially when wearing the rented traditional clothes. We saw many couples wearing it together. Some, only ladies were wearing and the guy took their beautiful photos.

View of the traditional house in Cat Cat Vilage - Sapa, Vietnam

There was traditional house for viewing as well, showing the internal and external side. So the visitor could have an idea how they lived.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Sapa Town, Vietnam

After visiting it, we headed back to Sapa town. We went to visit the Notre Dame Cathedral located very near from the Sapa center. While Aileen went inside for prayer, I was sitting down outside with Dinh and had a chit chat. Notre Dame Cathedral was built by the French in 1895. This stone church featured a bell tower and Roman Gothic architecture. It was beautiful.

Medicine bag foot bath and body massage in Sapa, Vietnam

Once done, Dinh went home to cook for her family. The traditional medicine herbs for foot and body bath was famous there. We decided to give a try, but foot only (VND50,000). At the same time, we had a 60-minute head, shoulder and foot massage (VND250,000).

They soaked my foot for so long. The water from hot until became cold. The lady was doing massage while my legs were inside the pail. I think it was soaked for too long and when it was over, I did not feel well. My body was shivering from the cold weather, and the cold feet ( I was wearing slipper instead of shoes).

Preparation for Full Moon festival in Sapa Center - Sapa, Vietnam

We passed by the Sapa Center when walking to the Moment Romantic Restaurant to have our Vietnamese style fish soup dinner. The places started to get crowded. It happened to be Full Moon Festival on that day. What a lucky occasion for us to be there!!! Weren't we??? They were preparing their car (full of light and decoration) for the upcoming night.

Salmon Hotpot - Must try food in Sapa, Vietnam

We were hungry and I was not feeling well. So we decided to have dinner first and go back to hotel afterwards for taking a rest. Jacky asked us to try the local salmon hotpot while we stayed in Sapa. So I browsed internet looking for the nice salmon hotpot in the area. This restaurant seemed to have good review and the location was not far from where we stayed. So we chose it.

We ordered one pot for 2 person. Rice and noodle were included. With tea for 2 pax, it cost us VND580,000. It was not cheap but we enjoyed it very much as the ingredients suited my condition very well. I needed proper food (too many snacks the day before), and hot soup was really good for such a cold weather. We both ate in gusto and the portion was just nice.

We both went back to hotel. I took bath and Aileen helped me 'gua sha' (scratch my back using oil) to let the air coming out from my body, and I took a rest inside the room. She went alone back to Sapa town to watch the Full Moon parade and night scenery over the lake near there. It was too bad that I could not enjoy them, but rest was all I needed so that I could recover fast and go on with my journey.

Overall I had a good day there, but too bad we could not visit the rice terrace as we needed separate tour for trekking or hiking there, which I did not know. So if you wanted to visit it, you should arrange beforehand, and make sure you have enough time. That was all for now. Will continue again...
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