February 24, 2015

Your Local, Makati

Are you depressed?

Why not try some of these - Slay the monsters residing in your head. Stop dwelling on negativities. Accept that all things are difficult before they are easy. Change your attitude and let go of your destructive emotions (yes you can if you will to). Stop going back to the place where your heart ran from. Try to sit in to some Appreciative Inquiry Workshop. Watch and enjoy the cheesy but funny That Thing Called Tadhana. Hold on to people who don’t only make you happy but also know how to respect you. Or just eat salmon.

Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids that could fight depression. Actually Your Local’s “torched Norwegian salmon donburi” can do more than that. Topped with mentaiko and ebiko and sitting on a bed of flavorful shiitake black rice, the salmon has that magical power to make you euphoric. Like once you’ve tasted it, the world will go in slow motion, your heart will skip a beat or two, and for one moment you will forget the ISIS, Haiti and the ugly face of Pinhead. I swear you will never love another salmon again. Ever.

Pork and beans

Salmon donburi

Chorizo sandwich

Dark chocolate Earl Grey

Paulaner Hefe Weissbier

Sometimes you gotta pretend everything’s okay. But at Your Local, not anymore.

Salmon more?

Your Local
G/F Universal LMS Bldg.
#106 Esteban St., Legaspi Village
Makati City
Tel. No.: 823-6206

February 23, 2015

Mui Ne, Vietnam: Sun, Sands and Seafood

Whoever said life is better with a little sand in your toes, should also probably go to Southern Vietnam and discover its beautiful sand dunes. During the short time I get to spend in Ho Chi Minh, I’m beginning to discover some amazing destinations outside the city, one of which is Mui Ne.

We booked thru the first travel agency we saw in front of the busy central bus station, a night sleeper bus bound for Mui Ne. Travel time took five hours. We arrived at 1 am, missed our bus stop (dahil nakalimutan ng conductor na ibaba kami where we were supposed to get off) and walked back like almost 20 minutes to find our hostel.

A 12-km. stretch coastal town populated with luxury resorts and spas, Mui Ne is slowly becoming the playground of the rich in Vietnam who wants R&R by the beach. Pero dahil hindi naman kami rich, dun lang kami sa fishing village at sand dunes napadpad. We rented a car for whole day to see the top spots of Mui Ne. There’s actually a sunrise tour for those who want to see sunrise in the sand dunes but we passed that up dahil maka over-fatigue na kami sa ilang araw na kakagala from sun-up to sun-down. 

Mui Ne is synonymous to its enormous and picturesque white and red sand dunes. The White Sand Dunes or Bao Trang (White Lake) which is farther, looks more impressive with its Saharesque formations. 

The Red Sand Dunes on the other hand, is more accessible to the public and overlooking the deep blue sea.

We also visited the Fairy Stream (Suoi Tien), a knee deep stream with crystal clear water flowing on a reddish soil. Though we didn’t see any fairies, the place looks magical with its enchanting rock and soil formations.

We also hopped to the neighboring Bình Thuận Province to climb the Ta Cu Mountain. We rode a cable car to see the pagoda and the reclining statue of White Buddha, believed to be the biggest in Vietnam.

Finally, we chose to end the day sunset watching while eating fresh seafood – lobsters, crabs, shrimps at the Fishing Village. Oh could life get any better than this?

So this is the last chapter of our backpacking trip across Cambodia and Vietnam. I really should thank Carla and Francis for preparing all the itineraries and online booking of our hostels. Tomorrow when I board the plane back to Manila, I’ll be thinking of the paper works that have probably piled up on my desk. Sometimes, life could be unfair. But my Mui Ne memories, they are forever.

February 17, 2015

Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)

“There are causes worth dying for, but none worth killing for.”
- Albert Camus

One of the most convenient bus rides I had was the one we took from Phnom Penh to Saigon. There’s a conductor slash waiter on board who served all of us passengers with chocolate chip bread and bottled water. Dahil sanay ako sa Manila riding ordinary buses, I felt so pampered, except for the part where we had to pass by the border and undergo immigration inspection. Ang haba na naman ng pila at dutdutan, which was very Third World hehe.

After seven hours (and upon seeing thousands of motorists on the street), we arrived safely in Saigon, a place I only heard from my all-time favorite musical Ms. Saigon. Quite honestly, I love the scene more where Chris sings “Why, God Why?” while watching Kim sleep than the real Saigon itself. At first. But then things would eventually change.

We only got to explore the capital of Southern Vietnam in little less than two days. I’m not a city person, and exploring the city on a gloomy day made things for me a little less exciting.  We were able to visit the Reunification Palace, Notre-Dame Cathedral, Saigon Central Post Office, Ben Thanh Market, and Saigon Opera House. I just wonder why Miss Saigon was never shown in Vietnam.  

So I thought that was it. But nothing could have prepared me for the whirlwind of emotions I’m about to experience the moment I set foot inside the War Remnants Museum. It is a heartbreak museum that graphically portrays the brutality and horrors of Vietnam war, and its aftermath that still affect the next generation. More than 3 million Vietnamese perished during this dark period in Vietnam’s history.

It wasn’t easy looking at pictures of men, women and innocent children who were butchered during the war. Nakakaiyak, nakakapagod, nakakagutom. After our half-day museum tour, we  immediately dig in on street food. One dish I particularly enjoyed was pho, its aromatic herbs and basil (isang plato ng basil ang ihahain sa yo!).

After retracing Vietnam’s history, we are ready to face the future. We climbed the Bitexco Financial Tower, one of the country’s tallest towers, and admired the cityscape from the Saigon Sky Deck.

And even if I’m a morning person, okay I’ve learn to love Saigon. Even if it never really sleeps at night.