While all of us would agree that to travel is a joy, packing for it is another story. If we could skip that part and just magically have a backpack or luggage neatly organized as we go out the door than that would be great. However, unless you are a billionaire and/or Mariah Carey who have a personal assistant to do everything for you, packing things for a trip is a cold, hard truth in one’s life. Of course, packing will be fairly easy if we could just stuff our whole house in a bag but since we consider lots of things, i.e. size of your bag, the health of your back and airline luggage weight regulations, we have to be smart about it. I am now convinced, after years of living out of suitcases (and backpacks), that packing is a science and also an art. It just doesn’t happen– it has a formula and at the same time you have to be creative about it.
Ah, Hong Kong! A cultural melting pot of East meets West, with great shopping, good eats and good-looking people. Having said that, a 3-day jaunt on “Asia’s World City”, seems like a taxing endeavour especially when you are going to do it all by yourself (i.e. good riddance, boring tour packages!). However if you are well-traveled and have been there once or twice before, it should be fool-proof, right? Probably true. But sadly, not for us We admit that once we’ve been to a place before, we tend to be pretty stubborn in our ways. And lazy. Big time. This could be due to too much sun and salt water exposure. Or you know how you seem to be good at Physics and you think you got it so you end up not studying for the exam and then when you take the exam you “surprisingly” fail?
Well, that’s kind of what happened on our Hong Kong trip (And I really thought I was good at Physics!)
(Archived from The Quarter-life Travels blog. Published September 2012.)
April 29,2012– After an overnight stay at Tinaga Island in Calaguas, we are headed back home to Manila but not until we dropped by and checked out the surf at Bagasbas, also in Camarines Norte. I was actually a bit wary that the waters might be flat, as what is expected during summer. Oh, before I go on, I am in no way a surfer– professional or even an inch near beginner, I suppose, but I love to surf once in a while (the long board kind) and get wiped out most of these times. So maybe I am in no position to be saying that the water is flat blah, blah, blah but really, what fun is there in surfing on calm waters? And is that still called surfing? But before I consume you with my thoughts, I was quite happy to see as our van parked along the beach avenue, that the waves were there. One local surfer the I got to talk to told me that the waves in Bagasbas never actually goes flat even during summer months wherein some other surf spots become calm. I don’t know if this is actually true but if I can compare with my trip to San Juan, La Union a week before, I would agree– the waves in Bagasbas are much more surfable (there is actually no “surfable” word, I just made it up but you would agree it sounds right, no?). I also noticed that the beach is alive: people are everywhere and you can just tell that energy is pulsating in the whole area.
(or what I did pretty much all the time while in Ho Chi Minh)
As much as I wanted to be the cultured and classy person that you all think I am, the truth is that on my teen years, my world revolved around cable TV. This affected me in so many ways: at 15 my dream job was to be a MTV VJ (fortunately, this has changed, else I will still be unemployed), I thought Rachel Ray was a genius making 30 minute meals (still do, but still can’t make anything other than fried eggs in 30 minutes!) and “Oh Tokyo” at WINS made my day (seriously, bring it back). The cool life as I knew it existed on the tube and people in there seemed to have more fun than I do. Perhaps the ultimate life-changing TV show for me were the Lonely Planet series shown on Discovery Channel when I was a bright-eyed teen. It opened my eyes to the wonderful world and all the fun of traveling. They featured places like Paris, Thailand, New York and Havana and every time I would swoon and wish that I could go there someday. But no other episode of theirs has stuck in my memory than the one they had of Vietnam. To be precise, nothing in that episode has struck me more than when they started featuring food: Spring Rolls, Bahn Mi and bowls and bowls of steaming hot and delicious Pho. Oh. My. I used those two words way before you met Christian Grey, Ana Steele. And I am completely PG.
I have a friend, E, who balks at the idea of a trip to Ho Chi Minh. She complains that there really is not much there aside from the cheap North Face bags being sold there. But surely there should be much more to this city other than factory overruns right?
Right! For as soon as my friends and I stepped-out of our hotel on our first day in Ho Chi Minh, or Saigon, as it is popularly known among the locals, I knew that E could have been balking at the wrong city. The revving hordes of motorcycles winding through the roads of Ho Chi Minh is already a reminder that this is no boring place. Saigon is also well represented in the “East Meets West” adage of most cities for its history of being once the capital of French Indochina.
So before you go and buy your dirt cheap and brand-new backpacks, grab the most reliable one you have first and get ready to dance with motorcycles, be french with you architectural tastes, brush up with important history and open your eyes to a glimpse of life on the riverside (yes, get out of the city for a while!)