Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Reunification Palace (Dinh Thống Nhất)

After our break in Cafe de la Poste, when we finally had our energy back, we then explored a historical landmark - the Reunification Palace/Independence Palace. It used to be the home and workplace of the president of South Vietnam. Vietnam was divided before into North and South. During the Fall of Saigon (where the communist government of North Vietnam successfully invaded Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam; also served as the transition period to the formal reunification of two Vietnams), significant events occured in the Reunification Palace - it was bombed twice, demolished, rebuilded. It's also the site where the Vietnam War ended.

The interior consists of different chambers, which are well-preserved and -maintained.
Banquet chamber

Banquet chamber
Ministers' cabinet room
Conference hall

For more information, you can read here or visit their website.

Note: All pictures were taken by me except for the last one which was taken by Shayne.

Cafe de la Poste

Since I'm on a holiday and the internet connection is surprisingly fast here in the province, it's timely that I go back to posting some stuff during my Vietnam trip last October.

So after checking the Notre Dame Cathedral and Central Post Office, my friend and I were already tired and hungry. We decided to try a nearby cafe, which is just beside the Central Post Office, the Cafe de la Poste.

I loved the look and feel of the place. They have an air-conditioned indoor area where you can eat and have a sip of a refreshing coffee but I think the outdoor area is much, much better. It's just perfect to sit there, do people watching, eat, drink, and just absorb the beauty of Vietnam. I felt like I'm in Europe or something, you know, the outdoor cafes with tables and chairs and big umbrellas covering them.

Iced coffee
And when it comes to food, gosh I super love how healthy and delicious the food in Vietnam is! I ordered vegetable salad and iced coffee. My friend, Shayne, got some noodles (pho) and iced coffee too because well, we're in Vietnam, we might as well try their coffee! I have to say I'm not a coffee lover but when I was there, I probably had coffee several times a day, for four straight days and I just loved it! We also got a green tea flavored iced cream. So yeah, how healthy can you be in Vietnam? =)
Vegetable salad


Green tea flavored ice cream

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas 2015

Sending some love from our family to yours this Christmas season!

Living in a place where family is of great importance, I have to say nothing beats the experience of spending Christmas with family and loved ones. I'm just so thankful I get to spend this wonderful season with them. I'm also grateful for all the blessings God has given our family and that my 94 year-old Lola (gradma) is still with us. And though my brother is currently in a different continent, thanks to technology, we got to see and talk to him as if he is just right at home.
family with aunt and cousins

Hello to this artsy fartsy shot of a native lantern made of capiz.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Geez, time flies so fast! Even though we're already in the middle of December, let me just say, "Hello December!" For my greeting, well I guess it's better late than never. I've been MIA here in my blog for the past couple of weeks and I really feel sorry for not being able to post as frequent as I want to. I still have a lot to write about my Vietnam trip, then there was the conference I attended to on the first week of December, then the Christmas shopping I've been doing every weekend. There are just so many things going on but at the end of the day, when I'm supposed to write them down, I already feel tired I just wanted to sleep or I just wanted to de-stress by watching Youtube videos or movies. Another reason is this: Blogging used to be an enjoyable activity for me. It's an outlet to express my thoughts, to record moments in my life so that I can look back to it in the future, to share some fashion-related stuff, etc. but now, it feels like more of a task, something that adds weight, it's not fun anymore. But I'm hoping it's just a phase. I'm hoping this dry spell or lack of motivation or whatever you call it will not last long. I hope the coming holidays, where I'll get to go home and get to have a break from work for several days, will invigorate me and prep me for a fresh new start in 2016.

Have a HAPPY HOLIDAYS you guys!

May we all have a blessed and prosperous new year and don't forget to also be a blessing to others!

Here's to getting started with the holiday vibes... =)

Friday, November 20, 2015


In just a month and two weeks time I'll be turning twenty nine. Seriously, why does time fly so fast? The end of the year, the start of a new one, and of course my birthday always bring me to reflect about my life and the year that was.

2015 has gone by without so much "fireworks" or major breakthroughs. I am still here, stuck in my plans to pursue graduate studies. Still searching for programs, for schools, for scholarships... I feel like I've already devoted so much time researching programs and universities but I'm still back to square one. Yes, I've already taken the TOEFL and GRE (this I will take again next year) but it's still a long way to go.

Sometimes it can be disappointing and depressing. Other times, I just feel completely exhausted. If there's one thing I learned, it's that looking for a graduate program is not as easy as ABC. Everyday I wake up with grad school application as the first thing in my mind. You'll never know that struggle until you're in that stage where you want so badly to pursue a PhD. Time is also a major factor, because whether I like it or not, I'm not getting any younger.

Another issue is the shift of research interest. All my life, I've been working in plant science but I've always wanted to be in the biomedical arena. If I'm not going to be a doctor (my childhood dream), might as well work in a field closest to it, the biomedical sciences. My ultimate goal is to discover a cure for neurodegenerative diseases, specifically Alzheimer's, and to see that cure change and improve the lives of the people affected with the disease. With the technology that we have, I'm confident that one day that goal will be achieved.

I know the competition is high, there are much more younger people who are more experienced than I am but I am determined to do everything it takes, even if I need to start with another MS degree again, just so I can get into that field.

So much is still going on in my mind right now but I guess I'll have to stop here.

image source here

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Life These Days

In just a few days, it'll be the month of December. I know a lot of people are already excited about it but in my case, it's different. I am silently hoping that time would slow down because December would be the deadline for graduate school applications in the US (for the program that I want to take). I am looking at two universities but the sad thing is that the deadline for both is on the first week of December. I only have almost two weeks left. I really don't know if I can make it. Possibly not. But then again, there can be miracle. But with the situation I'm into right now, things just seem so bleak.

However, here's the good news. Remember the moment I was depressed with my unfortunate TOEFL experience (see post here)? Finally, I was able to take it last October 31. With the encouragement of my mom and with the looming application deadline, I finally took the courage and faced the exam. Results came and I have to say I'm happy with the scores that I got. Really thankful for all the prayers and support of family and friends, and for the sisters/nuns in the church in my hometown who prayed for me. Of course, this success would not have been possible without the grace of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

On November 6, I took the GRE. I have to admit though that I wasn't prepared. I took it because I wanted to catch up with the application deadline. I have to take the risk. Either I will do good or not. But the GRE is not easy. Well, the questions are like high school/early part of college math but the thing is, you have to really refresh your mind with the lessons you had when you were in high school and that proved to be difficult, especially for me who wasn't able to review well. The verbal part is also difficult because some of the words used are like out-of-this-world! I was also kind of confused in the first question of the analytical writing so I probably didn't answer it correctly and completely. In short, I did not do good and it showed in my scores. What's worse is that the percentile rank is also included. Seeing it really makes me cry. Even now, just by writing, I feel like crying.

But yeah, life happens. And you can't always get what you want. You have to work hard for it. And work hard I will do. I am planning to take the GRE again. But this time, I'll definitely review well and refresh my mind with the math lessons, improve my vocabulary, and practice more with writing. Slowly but surely, I'll get that high GRE score and percentile rank.

I may not be able to meet the application deadline but one thing's for sure, I'll see you again GRE! I will see you and I will conquer you!

Monday, November 16, 2015

HCMC Day 1 (Part 2)

Been very busy these past few weeks but now, after such a long time, the continuation post is finally up! Writing this at this very moment brings back all the fond memories I had in Vietnam and helps brighten up an otherwise depressing Monday.

So let's go back that lovely day of 11th of October. Just across the Notre Dame Cathedral is the Central Post Office. You'll never miss it because it's a bright yellow-colored building. Aside from being a famous tourist destination, it still is a functioning post office. You can go there and mail some letters or post cards to your loved ones back home. But of course, me and my friend just took some pictures.

See those intricate carvings?

Inside, you can see the portrait of Ho Chi Minh, the Vietnamese Communist revolutionary leader who became prime minister and president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

Seeing something familiar

One of the best things that I saw inside the building was this lovely couple sitting beside each other. The old lady seemed like writing something while the old man was looking at the interior of the building. The perfect picture of traveling and seeing the world together even though they're old. Hashtag relationship goals!

There are also some shops near inside the building selling a variety of colorful and beautiful souvenir items.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

HCMC Day 1 (Part 1)

Traveling has always been one of the things I enjoy doing. And this year, me and my travel buddy spent the second week of October in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Vietnam, like the Philippines, is a Southeast Asian country. So, it's pretty much the same when it comes to geographical location and climate (though the upper regions in Vietnam, such as Hanoi experiences four seasons). To be honest, I don't really have much expectation in this trip, except that I want to go there to de-stress and just forget about my problems even for just a few days. But Saigon has done more than that. Saigon has captivated my heart!

Note: The following will be full of details because when I go back to this post again in the future, I want to be able to read and remember as many details as I can.

We left Manila at 10:50 PM, October 10 and arrived in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) at 12:30 AM, October 11. It's a two and a half-hour flight (Manila is one hour ahead of HCMC). We were in a promo flight and usually promo flights are scheduled on the flights not taken by most people, e.g. wee hours of the night. We were fetched by the pick-up service from the hotel. One thing I noticed was that the driver (oops I forgot his name) was warm and friendly. He gave us bottled water, which was really nice, and told us common phrases used in Vietnam and their meaning, the coffee places to try, and gave us tips, e.g. avoid buying in the street vendors because they usually charge higher prices on the tourists. After a few minutes, we arrived at our hotel, Silverland Inn (see their website). Hopefully, I'd be able to write a post about the hotel because I really love our stay there. It's definitely a good choice and it's not that expensive.

After a good night's sleep, we were so ready to take on the world, err I mean HCMC!

Day 1 (October 11, 2015)
Whenever I make an itinerary, the places near the hotel are usually the ones scheduled on the first day. It's a plus that our hotel is located near the tourist spots in the city. Our first day began with a hearty and healthy breakfast - Vietnamese style, of course. I got my first taste of pho, which is so delicious! Will include a picture of that in my post/review about the hotel soon.

At past 9, with a full tummy, we started our journey!

So from the hotel going to Notre Dame Cathedral, here's the view.
Park Hyatt Saigon

Dong Khoi area

We passed by Dong Khoi, which I have to say is my favorite street in HCMC. It's an upscale area filled with fancy hotels and shops. And also, there's the Opera House. Here's a funny story, me and my friend took pictures in front of the Opera House, in that bike filled with native materials (picture above) without having an idea that it's already the Opera House. All along I was telling my friend we would go to the Opera House in the afternoon. And we just realized it's the Opera House when we passed by it again in the evening.
Saigon Opera House
me sitting happily and seeing all the beauty of HCMC

Ho Chi Minh City Hall

Notre Dame Cathedral
I absolutely love the simplicity of Notre Dame Cathedral. It's not that huge and it's not an imposing kind of establishment.

We're supposed to attend mass but we're late and by the time we're going inside, they're not accepting any more people so we just stayed outside. There were so many tourists and yes, as you can see in the picture below, it's common to see couples having photoshoot.

This was on the other side of the cathedral. So many were taking pictures here so when they all left, we just have to take our own "by the door" shot.

I still have a lot to include in Day 1 but I'll just reserve them in my next post.

Good night everyone! :)
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