Thursday, September 18, 2014

HCMC - day 3

we now know how small HCMC is so we lazed in hotel room after breakfast until it's lunch time before we decided to venture out for food. :P
with the recommendation from gb, we headed to quan ngon 138 for some good o' Vietnam cuisine!
I like the food here especially the shrimps cooked while wrapped around sugar cane!
the unadventurous husband had his pho as usual but it was really good. :D

@ quan ngon 138!
after lunch, we headed to vicom centre which is the biggest shopping mall in HCMC.
nothing too different from the malls in SG but I felt weirdly at home in it. haha!
we had yummy fanny's ice cream which is really tasty and creamy!
very affordable ice cream
wide variety - saw that they have chili flavor but I was not brave enough to try...
after shopping time at vicom and parkson mall next to it, we walked over to the opera house.
this area reminded hubbi and me of the opera house and surroundings at paris!
really french colonial style.
@/around opera house

by then, it was almost 5 and the ng family was feeling tired and sleepy again..
we found refuge at café bene - a Korean franchise café  which we were very fond of when we were at seoul last june - and proceeded to laze there with yummy bubble tea for the next hour.
finally, we made our way to the last stop for the day - ciao bella for dinner!
a Italian restaurant known for its good food near opera house area.
I like the food here second best for all the meals at HCMC (we had the best meal as last dinner in HCMC - more on that later).
I ordered sea bass thinking its the usual thick slice but was most surprised when I saw the whole fish!
and the chef has removed all the bones and baked it with lemon slices between the fish!
how well-executed! and it's only like US$20?
hubbi had squid ink seafood pasta and the man loved it too. they boys' cabonara was good too - not overwhelmingly saltish.
I like the touches from the restaurant like free house wine for us and sprite for the kids AND limoncello after desserts! YUM.
the whole meal only costs us like US$50+ for 4 of us? what a steal!

check out the sea bass!
it was drizzling when we left the restaurant so on we hopped to a cab and back in warm dry hotel room in no time. yeah!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

HCMC - day 2

we started the day early after breakfast at hotel.
from sofitel, it's only a short walk of 10-15m to the unification palace via the main le duan street.

motorbikes everywhere! huge roundabout with bikes and cars zooming from all directions and NO traffic lights!
I really don't know how we cross the roads most of the time
we decided to drop by Windows cafe which is one of the recommended cafes for HCMC.
not too bad given the ambience.
but the interior smell like the its turned into a KTV/pub with too much smoking and alcohol... @_@
the pho with beef balls was good but the rest of the dishes were so-so.
still, a good meal.

we opted for non-smoking section and were led to this secluded open-air corner. @@
but its a good thing for it was thumping bad techno in the café!
unification palace is just opposite windows café - we didn't go in but just take some shots of it.
opposite it are the city parks which are pretty small but the few times we walked past it the next evening, they were full of locals having drinks and looking relaxed, chatting.

a nice sanctuary in the city
next up, we walked over to the notre dame cathedral and post office which are incredibly near.
nice architect and i especially like the interior of the post office.

posing in front of the church

interior of post office - grand!
by then, it was almost 4pm and we were mostly drenched in sweat.. the weather was that atrocious.
we walked back to our hotel to laze the late afternoon away - shiok!
by 6+pm, we were good to go again.
we took a cab to district 2 for our dinner - la villa French restaurant.
read good reviews about this restaurant online and made reservations before the trip. the location is a little off but luckily by cab its only a mere 15m away from district 1 where our hotel is.
the décor, ambience and menu of the restaurant are fine dining standard.
the food was good too especially for the price ~ US$100+ for 4 of us.
but again, I rather pay abit more for the tastier food in bali. :P
hard not to compare when we just did bali only 3 months back and I can still remember clearly how fine the food was!
chanced upon this very nice desserts shop next to our restaurant
bought a red velvet cupcake and lemon tart for tea break tomorrow which turned out to be absolutely delicious!
and that concluded our 2nd day in HCMC!

Monday, September 15, 2014

hcmc - day 1

we reached airport early at slightly before 12 for our 2pm flight.
mummy needs to do some spot of shopping @ DFS.:D
we had a quick tea break at coffee & toast before going through the immigration.
and I must have shopped for quite some time for the next thing I know after I made payment, it's only 30m before take-off time..
well, it's good shopping for I bought (almost) absolutely nothing from HCMC. @_@
left: happy boys @ T1
top right: touched down at HCMC airport!
bottom right: checked into Sofitel
Jetstar took off on time and we reached hcmc around 3pm (hcmc is 1 hour behind SG).
found a cab in a jiffy and we reached Sofitel in 15m or so.
by the time we were ready to move out to explore, it was still pretty early at 4+pm.
we tried looking for food but there are no cafes in sight when we ventured out but coffee bean.. LOL.
so we settled for that to fill the hungry tummies of the boys.
food for the boys
from our hotel, it is only a short 10-15m walk to Saigon square 2.
but it's really not our cup of team so we were in and out in less than 30m.
the rest of the evening was better spent trying to hunt down a decent dinner venue for us.
as the night fell fast, we quickly settled for an authentic looking jap restaurant.
but the menu presented to us revealed a mix mash of cuisines (jap, Korean, chines etc). @_@
we had bbq - kobe beef, pork belly etc for dinner. it wasn't really ex ~ US$50 for 4 of us.
but I thought for this price, I can get better food in much better.
ok, maybe it's just the wrong restaurant.
and it started drizzling when we walked back to hotel, so we doubled our steps and reached the comforts of our room slightly after 8+pm.
not too bad for a slow day 1!
as for the DFS shopping, im very pleased with my purchases. all the more after im back and knowing that those are almost the only things I bought for this trip...
stocking up and buying some stuff on a whim as usual:
- make up remover oil from shu uemura
- sunblock from shiseido
- facial cleanser from guerlain
- lipstick x 2 from chanel
- perfume from chanel
- liquid foundation from estee lauder
- bb cushion foundation from laneige
im a happy woman!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

we are back!

5D4N zoomed past just like that and we are back from our hcmc trip!
so how was the trip? it seriously may be the most zzz trip for hubbi and I..
maybe just a case of misalignment of expectations. maybe we just don't know how to appreciate the beauty of hcmc.

ok lets talk about the good parts - very short flight to and from Singapore and city extremely near airport (think ~ 15m by cab) so you can start the trip as soon as you touch down without feeling the fatigue.
there are really a lot of cafes there, some with really nice décor and ambiance.
similar to bali, good range of restaurants which serve really decent Italian/French cuisine at affordable prices.
it was actually a relaxing trip if you count the time we laze in hotel - see below.

the not so good parts - if you are going to Mekong river or the cuci tunnels (which we did not for we have neither the desire nor are they kids-friendly), then hcmc is best for at most 3D2N.
no kidding, the attractions in city (reunification palace, post office, notre dame church etc) can be all visited in 1 day itself for their proximity.
and the markets (Saigon/ben thanh) are really not our cup of tea.
so by day 3 of our trip, we have started to go very very slow with our pace. like lazing in hotel until almost noon then going out to seek for food and going back to the hotel early like before 8pm every night. LOL.

still, it was an experience for the boys and us to try crossing the streets by trying to walk confidently while the motorbikes and cars navigate around us..
to see motorbikes charging towards us on the pavements (yes, they ride on those to save time).
to see showers that last all of a grand 2mins (yes, summer rains are amazing).
and some parts really feel like a #throwback to 70's Singapore.
it was all good experience on hindsight I guess though when I was there, I actually miss home terribly. :P

ok, more on hcmc trip in later posts!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

HCMC - here we come!

been a hectic 2 days at work! trying to clear as much as possible before going for our family trip tomorrow.
so where are we heading off this time round!? HCMC (Ho chi minh city) that is!
I think we are really running out of places to visit in Asia - cant go too far for a 1-week sept school holiday.
the last time I was in Vietnam Hanoi was a good 3+ years back. and to be honest, I wasn't too impressive with the city itself.
halong bay is beautiful but the bus journey to and fro Hanoi city is a total bummer (think at least 3.5hrs ONE WAY).
but I read good things about HCMC off travel mags though the very few colls who had ever been there gave me some shady comments here and there.
oh well.

seems like a simple enough trip - very cheap too.
since we are flying by jetstar budget airline (for a 1hr 40m flight it seems ok) and we booked the tickets early - almost 3 months back, the air tix was only like $650 for 4 of us!
how much cheaper can it be!?
since air tix is cheap, we decided to go for better accommodations - Sofitel that is.
but even so, 4 nights accom came up to be around $750 which is a good steal if you ask me since breakfast (yes, you heard it right!) is included!

the whole package seems crazy cheap compared to bali which we just did in jun.
is that an indication of how boring and uneventful the trip will be?
I hope not. I heard the café scene is good in HCMC though I've been warned that shopping is almost a no-no at least to me for im totally not into those market-type goods.

we will see, I guess?

just done packing for the boys and myself. hubbi is so lazy that he decided to pack his stuff tomorrow since it's an afternoon flight. tsk tsk.

some outfits for last week:
left: top from gg5, cropped pants from zara
right: dress from BCBG Max Azria

Sunday, September 07, 2014

weekend fun for the ng family

the ng family spent a lovely evening by the bay yesterday.
after lazing at home for a good part of the day after yz's enrichment class in the morning, we decided to head out for some activities.
we parked at satay by the bay at 5pm - mummy decided to go for a 30+m jog on the usual after-work jogging route while the boys took turns on the scooter with the husband.
after that, we had yummy dinner at.. where else but satay by the bay!
the satays there are really good - we ordered from the first stall to the left as we walked in.
after the hearty dinner, we took a walk around the kids area exploring the playground.
the boys ended up playing in the water playground spontaneously (lucky I have the foresight of packing extra clothing's for the evening! i thought they will get too sweaty from the running around..).
by the time we reached, bathed them and let them slowly unwind for the night, they were so tired and ready to hit the sack. hehe.
we should do more of such evenings going forward! a healthy way to let the boys expense their energy the right way! :P

left: cheeky yr
right: big baobei with sweaty mummy after run

Friday, September 05, 2014

teambuilding - off to ubin

this is the first month i'm feeling the joy of not having BAU closing activities!
sure, I have stuff to do and it's not altogether rosy but finally I don't have to go through the same closing tasks that I've been doing for the past few years. :D
so this have been a happy 1st week of the month for me with hours stabilizing so that i can go off relatively on time.
the husband and I even find time to visit the local library with the boys on wed! :)
this is good!
and today, some of us left office early for a spot of teambuilding!
even though we have left the business team (finance was taken out of business as a central function almost 2 years back), we were still invited for their almost quarterly teambuilding events. *sweet*
and so today, we went to...... UBIN!
in fact, the whole event was kept so hush hush that only until the transport van dropped us at change point ferry terminal then we were aware that we were going there!
it was in fact my first time to the island - not really a sporty/nature person...
on the bump boat approaching the island!
and so the teambuilding event was we have to first find cards at the herb garden that determine what ingredients we were entitled to and with that, we needed to whip up dishes!
imagine my horror hearing that! I who cant cook for nuts!
so most of the time, I was just hanging around the main chef for my team helping him find the spices etc. not even chopping the vegetables for there are other more capable ladies in my team for that task.. @_@
so it's really drinking beer with some others most of the time.. ha! 
the team! can you spot me?
we managed to whip up 12 dishes between us and had that for dinner
the dishes are not the tastiest but it was really team efforts that created them so we finished most of them between us.
we took the last ferry out of ubin at 7.30pm - it was a fun evening!
some of us continued to changi hawker for some more food and drinks and we chatted all kind of nonsense before calling it a night at 10+pm.
Fridays are best spent with chatting with friends while having drinks and food. shiok.