Ha Long Bay Junk Boat Tour

Hi guys! Today’s post is about a little more of my Vietnam trip but focusing in Ha Long Bay. I’m going to share with you my visit of this beautiful sightseeing experience on a junk boat tour. Ha Long Bay is near the city of Ha Long (Quang Ninh province) on the northwest of Vietnam. The area contains amazing limestone islands, emerald waters, rock formations and caves. You can take a cruise for 2-3 nights or a junk boat tour for a full day tour, which is the one we took. All junk boat tours are different, the one that we chose had transportation (3hrs bus from Hanoi), lunch and 2 options to choose from kayaking or bamboo boat ride.

The view is amazing with the limestones and majestic caves… however, I noticed the environment was highly compromised. The bay was overrun by tours with very little concern for waste and conservation. Despite of the environment feeling, we enjoyed the sightseeing, the formation of the rocky mountains where just beautiful. It is a very relaxing tour, although, I really think I would have enjoyed more going by cruise. Traveling by bus is like 3hrs going and then 3hrs back from Hanoi, which was tiring and my neck hurt… a lot. We had 2 stops to stretch up our legs and eat but by cruise is another experience in which you can go swimming, watch the sunset, enjoy the sightseeing trip from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay, plus you can actually take your time exploring for those 2 or 3 nights in different islands. So if you have the time, I do recommend going to Ha Long Bay by boat cruise, it’s not too expensive unless you’d like the fancy luxurious ones. I have crew friends that have done it and they truly recommended as well.

The lunch was great, they served chicken, pork, rice, salad, drinks were not included though. The tour guide explained the limestones and islets names in which I honestly couldn’t understand nor see the formations from them. For instance the Stone Dogs; my friends and I laugh so hard because we were like “Where’s the damn dog!”. The guide tried to explain it to us, but we just couldn’t catch up. There’s a couple of other ones like Duck Island, Finger Island, Fighting Cocks Island (but my guide said chickens…) and Finger Island.

 

Around Ha Long Bay

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Traveling without your kids: No Guilt

lot of friends have the decency of asking me “How could you travel alone without your child?” My immediately response -“Well, Because it’s okay to have a free mommy time off! WHY NOT, right?” while another question comes by from them “…And your husband?” I drop a big smile as I respond “He’s a grown man, he’s fine.”

This is something that is happening around me lately and I have to write it and share it. Now, every relationship is different and I cannot give you the exact advise because it may not be applicable for everyone. However, I’m going to cut to the chase and say something that every marriage has to hear and that the society must hear: You should travel at least once a year without your kids, and it’s okay to travel without them.

I know is a overrated theme, but you’ll be surprised of how many parents don’t travel without their kids or do solo traveling or anything, like never. Society has this misconception that you’re a bad parent if you travel without your toddler, if a mom takes good care of herself, enjoys a night out once in a while alone and so on. People has this mind-set that automatically believes a woman will never travel, enjoy life, be pretty, use high heels, etc, once she becomes a mother. This is all a myth unless you accept this type of settlement in your life.

Let me share with you the benefits and reasons why should you travel with your partner without your kids or do solo traveling, because being together constantly, is not all healthy. 😉

Here are my 9 reasons you should travel without your kids, with no guilt!

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Delicious Chocolate You Have To Taste

Vietnamese Marou Chocolate

In an article published in the New York Times, reporter Laurence Obsborne described the world’s most exquisite chocolate bars which are made in a factory on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City called Marou as “The best chocolate you have never tasted” with beans that were hand-picked on a skinny strip of an island called Tan Phu Dong in the Mekong Delta, making Vietnamese chocolate unlike any other.

Maison Marou- Hanoi

Marou’s chocolate has a particular complexity and variability, because unlike most chocolate makers, they can create theirs from beans they select carefully at the source. This means they have control of everything, from farm to bar. Therefore, their handmade chocolate products are more expensive than industrial ones, but the quality and flavour meet the needs of high-end markets in Vietnam and compete with international products.

Because of their culture history, I had basic knowledge of their coffee and cocoa seeds, however I was not aware of Marou chocolate. I started reading and searching for more information couple days before traveling of how pure and natural these chocolates were. Since I’m a chocolate lover and sweet tooth for pastries, I wrote down the location of Maison Marou shop and promised myself not to missed this place.

If you’re a chocolate lover or just looking for a place to relax, read while having a cup of coffee or tea at Ho Chi Minh city, this place is for you. Mind you, the chocolates are yes, quite expensive but the quality is totally worth it. Each chocolate has the percentage and it cost approximately $10.00 each, they also have cute gift boxes with a variety of chocolates, also individual mini bar chocolates and an exquisite variety of delicious pastry.

Delicious desserts at Maison Marou, Hanoi.

The staffs are very friendly, they introduce their chocolates, give you cocoa seed for taste as well as chocolate samples. The atmosphere is very relaxing, perfect to seat and take a nice cup of a hot creamy chocolate. The decor brings a charming environment that you’ll enjoy the shop from the moment you step in.

Me, wondering chocolates at Maison Marou.

 

My Taste…

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Discover Hanoi

Vietnam has always been in my bucket list and still is. There’s so many places to visit and things to do that a week is not enough. At least you need 2 weeks to visit some main attractions, sightseeing and tours. Most places are far away depending on where you’re staying, for instance Hoa Lu and Tam Coc which are in the country side of Vietnam. In addition, also Sa Pa and its spectacular landscaping sightseeings and rice fields, Ha Long Bay by boat or the beautiful Ban Gioc and Datanla waterfalls, I can keep going all day. However, you can always enjoy Hanoi if you don’t have time to visit all other places, after all, Vietnam is big!

Trấn Quốc Pagoda

I met with 2 friends in Hanoi at the hotel that we booked that by the way, very cheap. Vietnam is very, very cheap! The hotel was (Splendid Holiday Hotel) not fancy, just nice location with breakfast included, just what we needed. I downloaded an app called Grab for transportation which works like Uber or even better. Once I arrived to the almost location, the driver was trying to explain me for about 7 minutes that the hotel was located inside these narrow streets that obviously cars can’t go through. But, I didn’t knew Vietnamese! I tried body language, pointing things with my hand, fingers, facial expressions… ugh! We just couldn’t communicate. Until I asked him like this: “Hotel-Map-Phone” while I was pointing him to the phone. He understood and searched on google maps the hotel, I took a photo with my phone and went walking with my luggage to the hotel which it wasn’t that far. Later, right after I arrived and meet with the girls, we went out to explore. We only took transportation when we really needed, despite the super hot weather, we walked to everywhere and enjoyed Vietnamese culture.

Our first stop was visiting the West lake where the One Pillar Pagoda is, which is regarded as one of Vietnam’s two most iconic temples. We also visit Trấn Quốc Pagoda, the oldest Buddhist temple in Hanoi and The Vietnam Military History Museum.

One Pillar Pagoda

 

Today, this pagoda is like a temple for people to visit and pray if they want to have children. I did not, of course 😀  haha. But is a beautiful landscape to take photos, built on a single pillar to represent a lotus flower which is a symbol of purity in Buddhist culture.

 

Continue reading “Discover Hanoi”

Doha express

Doha express

Visiting Qatar was unexpected, I was initially stopping as transit in Russia but I didn’t knew their policy changed; for transits American citizens passengers need a visa to enter the country -or- airport. If I knew this, I wouldn’t book it in the first place. We didn’t need visa before, but due to politics issues from the President of the USA with Russia, as I was informed from Aeroflot staff, our agreement has changed. Long story short, I rebooked my flight to Hanoi stopping in……Qatar!

Now, I used to love working this flight back when I was cabin crew because from Dubai to Doha is like 48 mins, easy pease flight. But, it was not a layover and never got the chance to visit, until now. This came up because a friend invited me to travel with her and her friend, I skipped some countries in which I already been couple of times and decided to meet them in Hanoi. And yes, I was traveling alone. I left my baby taking care from my mom and husband and went flying solo on a mommy time off week.

On that flight (New York to Doha), when we were doing the first descending, I noticed that the blouse I was wearing had really thin sleeves but not reviling anything though. My next flight was next day and didn’t want to sleep at the airport, I wanted to go out and take a shower… I grabbed my carry-on and searched for any other blouse or shirt. I always packed extra clothing except for this darn time I didn’t. A woman seating behind me saw me struggling and asked me if I was okay. I explained to her my matter as she replied “You’re good hun, there’s no problem what you are wearing at the airport..” I then smiled and told her my plans was not staying at the airport. Her face turned serious and ‘shocked’ as she was asking me very surprised Why would you explore Doha, and alone?  I, on the other hand, was curious of how she assumed I was specifically doing a layover in Doha… She also mentioned she never travels alone, she was to scared of getting lost and that exploring an Arab country such as Qatar, is even more scary for her. She was going to stay the whole day at the airport, kill me. I couldn’t do that.

I was actually really excited to walk through the airport, I read so many things from the Hamad airport and let me tell you, I didn’t get the time to explore all their facilities, but it the airport’s architecture is really modern, beautiful hallways, full of technology, big TV screen, lounges that you can rest, sleep, take a shower, have a spa treatment, jacuzzi, they also have an indoor train to speed you faster to the gate (I did it!), big swimming pool, full range of workout equipment, fancy hotel…and I can go on all day. This is by far, the most luxurious airport in the Middle East. Continue reading “Doha express”

Welcome back

Welcome back

Hello again! it’s been long! A lot of things has happened on these past… 2-3 years? I miss flying and writing. I think I’ll continue writing though (many people encouraged me to continue sharing my now lifestyle, although is not that much interesting as I was working with Emirates).

I’ve tried to reply e-mails and comments, I really apologize for all the late responses. The whole entire 2016 year was me coping with my new lifestyle; back home, married with a newborn. I was sad because I had to resigned Emirates due to my pregnancy. I could had chosen keep living in Dubai but, Who’s going to take care my baby? Nursery is not really an option. My work was not that flexible; What happens when I get a long haul flight? or 2 nights layover? or even the 8 day trip and so forth… Some people really think is that simple until they’re on that exact same position as I was. I rather resign and see my baby taking care from my mom than from a ‘nanny’. I moved back to Puerto Rico with no job and eventually (can’t believe I’m writing this) missing Dubai! I really loved my job and for the entire 9 months pregnancy I felt useless. Obviously I couldn’t work during my pregnancy but knowing that after having my baby I was still going to be unemployed  UGH! I was even more stressed.

Nevertheless, my family and I were so happy! My baby is the first in both families; first grandson, first nephew and first great grandson…and first baby son haha! I did the baby shower in Pilot/Aviation theme. For those who are not related to baby showers:

In some countries, a baby shower is a way to celebrate the expected or delivered birth of a child by presenting gifts to the mother at a party, whereas other cultures host a baby shower to celebrate the transformation of a woman into a mother. The event has different names in different cultures. The term shower is often assumed to mean that the expectant mother is “showered” with gifts. (I have friends that in their culture don’t celebrate baby showers) 🙂

Me and my husband, at our baby shower.

I was so blessed to received lots of gifts and so many diapers that still to date, I don’t have the need to buy diapers nor baby wipes (Note: my baby shower was almost 2 years ago!) I also received baby clothes, toys, books, our family gave us play yards, stroller, cradle and all other bunch of stuffs. My husband’s colleagues made him a surprise by giving him Toys R’ Us gift cards from all his friends that collected money for our baby. I am still, very grateful. I gave birth natural, a beautiful healthy boy, he’s name is Abraham. He weighted 7.12 pounds and measured 22 length. He’s now 1 year with 11 months old and getting bigger! He is one little happy boy, he laughs a lot… almost with anyone!! He’s so attentive and very observant. He loves food! specially sweet plantains and chocolate  (like he’s mom) but he also loves to be breastfeed. If it was from him, he’ll be glued to my chest all day 😀 ! Continue reading “Welcome back”