Hanoi 2015 || Museums for women will Pho-rever make me happy

I have always loved museums. I am unsure how the fascination came alive, but it’s there. When I was researching for this trip, the Vietnamese Women’s Museum stood out. A museum dedicated to women? A must see!

When visiting multi-story museums, I have a habit of starting from the top to bottom. The highest floor is a no picture taking zone so here’s the only photo I had from there. It is full of modern art – which, unfortunately, I can’t appreciate since it’s abstract and I’m more into the “in your face” kind of art. 😛

Possibly my favorite floor is the one for fashion! The display is chronological and tells of how much you can find out about a culture based on their garments.

The amount of detail that went into each handmade piece made me want to own one.

There was a room full of portraits of the Heroic Mothers of Vietnam.

Dang Ai Viet, the artist, traveled to over 63 different provinces and cities throughout the country from February 19, 2010, to June 27, 2012, using this scooter.

I don’t know what these things are, but it was more whimsical in person.

Again, thank you Fanny’s for this!

Throwing a selfie in.. I tell people that life as a solo traveler meant taking your own photos (hence, using my phone’s front camera) but let’s face it, I am just vain like that. Hahaha!

Family life.

Wedding garb.

The “honeymoon” tent. The label does not say so in those terms, but that’s the gist of it. Hehe.


This girl had the perfect bun while transporting corn.

Colorful hats.. I honestly want one.

Selling votive paper objects is one of the things a family can turn into a livelihood.

The Third Princess is favored because she helps the “boat people” who I assume are fishermen.

Meanwhile, The Tenth Prince is worshiped to petition talent, intellectual prowess, and promotions.

Outside the museum is the cafe. It looks so shabby chic that I had half a mind to eat there. But it was full of tourists such as myself and I was hoping to eat somewhere more local.

I happened by PHO24 while walking along Hoan Kiem Lake and tried it out. I know this is more mainstream but I wanted to try it out. So much that I went a bit overboard while ordering and ended up with a huge bowl of Pho, some fresh spring rolls, and iced lemongrass juice. All for VND 82,000 (around Php 164). Pretty cheap in my opinion.

On another note, just want to take this chance to thanks, everyone who still follows – and has recently followed – my blog. I know my posts have been long due but I promise that I’m working on it. Let me know if you’ve missed me by dropping me a message or we can talk in the comments below. 🙂

More museums up next!

Hanoi 2015 || Ice cream for lunch because prison visits are exhausting

I woke up to the girl sleeping on the bottom bunk of my bed packing her bags because she had a 7 AM flight to Thailand. We said a quick goodbye (our only other interaction was when she said ‘hi’ when I came barging in the dark room at 2 AM) and I pondered on how to conduct myself with the rest of my roommates. Do I shower first? How the heck am I going to rummage through my backpack when it’s dark? Should I open the lights then and risk annoying these strangers with hangovers? In the end, I spent the next hour browsing Instagram. Once sunlight shone through the window, I took a shower and headed to the kitchen to eat the free breakfast that came with the $5 rate. The strong coffee was just what I needed.

To be completely honest, I was very hesitant to go out of the hostel. Sap would have reached the bottom of a trunk before I finished eating my breakfast. I knew I was stalling.. and when I finally got to steel myself to ask directions to the train station, Phung informed me that she can book it for me over the phone. Which she did. So I just got a map from her instead and asked her where she can suggest I go.

Off to the prison we go. (Entrance fee: VND 30,000)

I’m not going to go give you historical facts because you can probably just read it all over the internet (and some in the photo below). Prior to visiting, I only had a vague idea about the history of Vietnam. I have never really excelled in History but I spent a solid two hours here because I read all the captions and went to every single room accessible to the public.

I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that this prison was built to accommodate 500 people but there was a point in time wherein over 2,000 inmates were contained here. Can you imagine how that would feel?? (On a side note: do correct me if I’m wrong – my memory is a bit faulty)

This is where they mixed the food for the prisoners and how it was served.

Prison uniform.

All the political prisoners were kept in this room, with their feet shackled together. No bathroom breaks whatsoever. Damn. When they were planning to escape, they found a way to loosen the shackles so they could exercise and place their shackles back on to not get caught.

I did not take photos of the cells in here. I was already having goosebumps with the thought of everyone who must have died in these dreadful isolation rooms. You can peek in the doors and there was a mannequin in different poses. I did not take a look at all the rooms in fear of not finding a mannequin.. silly, I know. But I was the only one in this area at the time and could not ignore the chills.

Boxing gloves used to torture prisoners.

It may have been a good thing that people usually get thinner in prison for them to pull this off. If I was a prisoner here, I would have probably been left behind when they escaped via the sewers (and created a barricade for the remaining ones behind me because I couldn’t fit through). Out of the twenty prisoners who tried to escape, less than ten was successful (again, anyone is welcome to provide me with accurate information).


I felt emotionally drained after my prison visit and went to Quan Su temple afterwards. I went inside and was the only tourist there.. so I was not aware if it’s disrespectful to whip out my camera and take photos (some temples are strict about this). I settled to simply walk around and observe temple goers. I started walking around the area, thinking of where to have lunch, when I found this really cute house. I can see myself living in a house that looks like this.

I saw an establishment that looks nice from the outside and decided to go in – because it was also marked on the map I got from the hostel.

It was an ice cream place! I had to talk myself out of ordering this one..

Journal entry while I was in Fanny’s:

Happiness is staying inside an ice cream cafe. I swear I’m a bit hesitant to go on the streets of Vietnam. Crossing roads is a death-defying stunt in itself and I get hounded by strangers who offer motor tours. I am usually smiling and accommodating of strangers, but I have learned to keep my poker face on and firmly say no while walking. Also, I honestly want to eat everything in here.

The people from Fanny’s gave me a gift! I was asked if it was my first time in Hanoi and as I was leaving, they handed me this city guide (I was drawing circles and routes in the map while leeching off their wifi haha) and told me ‘this is a gift for you from Fanny’s’.

I may have been VND 165,000 lighter when I left the ice cream place but I’m still dreaming about it until now. All the bad juju from being scammed had almost been forgotten (because ICE CREAM).. and the City Guide have proven useful for the rest of my time in Vietnam. Win!

I’m ending this post here because I go through the photos as I write and I have so many photos of random things, it takes a while to relive everything. 🙂

Hanoi 2015 || Scammed on my first night in Vietnam

I initially wanted to write about my trip the moment I got back. However, there are some unfortunate circumstances that have made it inevitable to postpone writing until this opportune moment. This first post may be a bit on the negative side, but thankfully, it did not set the tone for the duration of my trip. 🙂

To be completely honest, I really thought that after booking my plane tickets, I would have roped someone into coming with me within a week of doing so. However, after a month, I gave up pestering my friends and C, and decided to go alone. What could go wrong, right? Ha! Famous last words.

I have never ever had a conversation with an immigration officer EVER. I just go “good morning/afternoon” and they ignore me while stamping my passport. Until now. The conversation went.. “Ano gagawin mo?” “Mamasyal po.” “Magisa ka lang? Mageenjoy ka ba nun? Sino magpipicture sayo?” “SHIT!! Naiwan ko monopod ko. *totally forgetting any filter at all* “Tignan mo na. Etong mga tatak sa passport mo. Saan saan ka nagpunta? Magisa ka lang din?” *starts off from 2011 which was when my latest passport was issued* “Sige, ingat!”

I am popular with my friends as the girl who can sleep anywhere instantaneously. Since I usually take late night flights or ones in the early morning (I feel like it’s such a waste of time to fly during daytime), I rarely even feel the plane taking off. The moment I am settled in my seat, I’m *almost* dead to the world. But it was a testament to the level of anxiety I was under when I failed to sleep a wink on my flight to Hanoi. I would have to blame my fussy seat mate a bit for that.

The plane landed in Hanoi past midnight, thanks to the time difference. Prior to leaving, I arranged a pick up from the airport to the hostel (Central Backpackers Hostel) and it was for US$20. I have heard of taxi scams before and since I was arriving in the wee hours of the morning, I thought it would be wise to just pay for safety.

But lo and behold, there was no car waiting to pick me up. I followed the instructions to call using a phone from the airport reception if the driver is not there. Before I even got to talking to the receptionist, I got led away by a guy in a uniform (and I went with him thinking he is an airport staff) to a taxi. While in the taxi, I honestly felt like something was not right. He kept trying to make me use an ATM to withdraw money (he stops at ATM machines and I keep telling him that no, I don’t have a VISA card or a MasterCard because strangers who try to get you to withdraw money from an ATM are super sketchy) and I kept telling him I’ll pay when I get to the hostel. When we got in front of the hostel, he wouldn’t let me out of the taxi, saying it cost US$100.

I tried the door and it wouldn’t open. The lock would not budge as well. I did not plan on paying $100 for a stupid taxi ride so I kept asking how much is it, so I can call someone from the hostel and help me pay him. It was around 2 AM already, there was no one else in sight and when I tried calling the hostel (the door to the hostel was locked and the lights in the lobby were turned off),no one was picking up. He kept saying “no, don’t call anyone” and have tried to swipe at my phone a few times.

He started spouting off some nonsense about the police and although I maintained a ‘pissed off’ facade, I was slowly starting to panic at the possibility that he can drive off with me still inside the car. In the end, I handed over $50 (more than twice what I agreed to pay for the airport pickup). After knocking (more like banging on the door), I checked in.

The moment I laid in bed, it took a lot to keep me from crying my heart out (aside from the fact that I am in a room with 7 other people). I just got off a plane and I just got scammed (and the anger was wearing off while the fear that I wouldn’t get off that stupid taxi started to sink in). I had already dialed my mom’s number and was planning to cry over the phone, but she was already worried at having me go off on my own that I decided against it.

Admittedly, it was my own stupidity that got me in that situation. At that moment, I realized that no matter how much you prepare yourself, constant vigilance is still the key. In hindsight, this firsthand experience became invaluable (also because I literally paid for it). It psyched me up enough to know that I never want to be in that position again, and it made me take a proactive stance on my security (Exhibit A: when a stranger approaches me, my hand immediately goes to my small bottle of pepper spray). Looking back at it now, I know what I would have done differently and learned a few things in the process:

  • Don’t be stupid. Hahaha, I know it’s cliche-ish but I should not have immediately believed anyone who was wearing a uniform. What I did for the rest of my trip (when I absolutely had to take a taxi, otherwise, I walked) was take a photo of the exterior make of the cab, and send someone an SMS with the license plate content.
  • Patience is truly a virtue. Yes, I was tired. But due to my impatience, instead of actually calling the reception and waiting for a car to pick me up.. well, you already know the rest.
  • Trust your instincts. I already felt it in my gut that the taxi was sketchy and had confirmed it by looking at the taxi meter that does not seem to be working. I should have had him bring me back to the airport instead.
  • Let The Hulk out. No one messes with The Hulk and for good reason. I practiced this as a last resort and have been successful so far (no kidding). Sometimes, all it takes is to show some fury for someone to back off. I picked this up from a German woman I met, who told me that scammers usually don’t want to attract attention to themselves and if you make enough of a fuss, they’ll leave you alone. If I end up trapped inside a taxi again, I would smash the windows and get out. I’m not even joking.

So.. Welcome to my first night in Vietnam – where I lost US$30 and I shifted to “trust no one” mode. Fortunately, it was also the last time I got scammed for the duration of the trip (refer to “trust no one” mode).

Vietnam-Cambodia Travel Vlog

Hi guys! I’m back in the Philippines and have shed off my angst overseas. If you were following me on instagram (@teeshue), I hope I did not annoy any of you with my daily lengthy updates on my life. I also got surprised with the Tumblr notifications that pops up whenever I get the chance to connect to the internet because.. hello to 40 new followers. Where did you all come from?? I am not complaining though but I have never had that much people follow me in the span of 2 weeks (unfortunately, I’m not popular haha). Thank you for following and drop me a message if you want to talk! 🙂

Anyway, here’s a 7-minute video of 2 weeks and four cities where I got 100 pimples and 3 shades darker. I forget to take videos/photos on most days.. admittedly, I think it’s for the better because I was more in the moment than the need to document everything (it’s also pretty hard to take videos of yourself though this video just proves I don’t need a monopod :D). The only thing I documented religiously during this trip was my expenses – down to the last dollar/dong. Hahaha!

I used Yuna’s songs since I have been listening to her albums on repeat while traveling. I love the vibe of her songs since it’s very empowering and lively. The music videos are brilliant as well and I love all her outfits (turban peg!!!). I was only going to use Rescue, “Yeah, she’s got life in her veins, she don’t need no rescuing, she’s okay. That girl is you yeah and that girl is me, that girl is stronger than the raging sea.“ but had a bit more of video left so I added Come Back (brilliant outfit and perfect LDR song if you ask me haha) as well since it covered Siem Reap where I spent 4 days before I came back home.

I can’t thank my parents enough for being very supportive by letting me live my own life (the amount of “I’m surprised your parents let you do that” I have gotten when I’m already 23 is surprising). And C for being the best boyfriend ever for accepting that I will always wander off to who knows where because I can’t seem to stay still (and all the airport drop offs and pickups and flowers and welcome home signs hahahaha).

So yay, for solo trips! I will write about this trip soon. I just have more than a thousand photos on my camera that I have not yet gone through and yet I’m already planning my next trip lol. How about you, where do you plan to go next?

Cupcake Girl Goes Solo in Vietnam+Cambodia

Hanoi Scammed on my first night in Vietnam || Ice cream for lunch because prison visits are exhausting || Museums for women will PHO-rever make me happy || Drenched in revolution, history, and a little bit of rain || Be water, my friend || Chocolate for breakfast || Fundamental change via ultimate orgasm || It’s a dog eat human world|| #KathNielHanoi || Social behavior and Social Club || Bye, Hanoi

Huế Wherever you are, be all there || Hue Riders || I did it my Huế || Huế to go!|| The Huế I am

Ho Chi Minh Slept my way to Ho Chi Minh (and my first Airbnb experience) || Saigon Hotpot and getting lost with strangers || The Foodie || Mekong Delta || Cu Chi Tunnels (and my lack of upper body strength) || Good night, Vietnam

Siem Reap Cambana d’Angkor Suites || Preah Khan || Preah Neak Pean & Ta Som || East Mebon & Pre Rup || Banteay Kdei & Phnom Bakheng Sunset || Angkor Wat Sunrise || Bayon || Angkor Thom || Ta Keo & Ta Prohm || Angkor WHAT NOW?