Impressions of Ho Chi Minh (Photo Series).

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Our cozy hotel setup at the Silverland Sakyo Hotel. While I appreciated the japanese inspired designs, our room had no windows. We had a really hard time getting up in the mornings without natural daylight.

 

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Despite its allure, I never actually got to bathe in this thing.

 

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A man earning his keep by selling pastries, all precariously balanced on his head. He placed the tray on my head for a short second and had it not had been for the support of his hands, my neck may have snapped. That thing was HEAVY.

 

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Exploring local markets, all of which were selling plenty of fake goods. Kenzo jumpers, Michael Kors bags and Ray ban knock offs.

 

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Being overwhelmed, yet super excited about the array of local food offered at the stalls, all for an average price of 2 Euros.

 

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Incase you weren’t drooling already. This was at Ben Thanh Market. The perfect place to get some souvenirs and food.

 

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As you can tell, I’m pretty darn happy. Pictured are classic vietnamese spring rolls and a wonton noodle soup.

 

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A Banh Mi stand sheltering under a tree.

 

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Next to the famous post office, there was a sort of “book-road” filled with cute cafés and book shops. A great place to come drink a delicious iced-coffee while getting away from the afternoon heat.

 

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Stacks and stacks of second-hand books. I don’t know what it is about them but I have to hold myself back from taking bags of them back home.

 

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This cute little display was located right next to the Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral.

 

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We also visited the Trung Ngyuen Café which is well known for it’s coffee. I loved the originality of the sand floors. I took of my shoes straight away and dug my toes into the sand.

 

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Trung Nguyen coffee beans available for sale. Did you know that Vietnam is famous for its Weasel Coffee? Weasels can pick out the sweetest and ripest coffee berries. They eat them and once the berries are pooped out (still intact) , they are used to make a very aromatic and expensive brand of coffee.

 

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After bad service and much anticipation , I was disappointed that the coffee tasted like bitter medicine and the glass of water which was flavoured with some tea to help cleanse the palate tasted like pee water, or what I would imagine that would taste like. I think i’ll stick to my european coffee from now on haha.

 

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This picture was taken at the War Remnants Museum, which was not for the faint of heart. I knew the Vietnam war had been devastating, but upon visiting the museum, I was left teary-eyed  and speechless. After learning about the horrible torture that civilians were subject to as well as the rape and killing of innocent children and the long-term effects of “Agent Orange”, I couldn’t help but feel a deep sadness for humanity. This photo hit a chord with me because here were these children, who were unknowingly posing with weapons of war, without a care in the world, while other just as innocent children are still victims of war today.

 

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This handsome fella was sticking his tongue out at us as we passed.

As a side note, as you can see , I am no professional photographer nor do I claim to be. I’m just as clueless with a camera as I am with my life but I’m hoping you still get the overall picture (pun intended because I’m such a master of the written word).

– A Pearl of the Orient.

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Good morning, Vietnam!

For the first leg of the trip to Vietnam in February, Benny and I decided we wanted to head to the beach before exploring the city so we headed to Nha Trang via Ho Chi Minh and let me tell you, I have never had a more stressful connecting flight. As we checked in for our first flight to Ho Chi Minh from Bangkok, the counter assistant informed us that they would not be able to transfer our baggage directly to Nha Trang. Instead, we would, upon arrival, have to pick up our luggage, leave the arrival hall and walk to the departure hall and check in all over again to catch our next flight, with a mere 90 mins in-between. Normally, I would’ve been easy but knowing that we had applied for VOA’S (Visas on Arrival) which were subject to inspection and approval after handing over an official letter from the Embassy which was applied for weeks in advance, I had a bad feeling in my stomach since the moment we took off , which ofcourse, was not on time.  Upon arrival, I was ready to pounce like a tiger, till I realised our plane had not directly parked at the terminal. So, we had to catch a bus. After being dropped off at the terminal, we rushed to the office which was responsible for handing us our visas; There were atleast another 50 people waiting, and a bunch of tourists loudly trying to communicate with the officer who on his part, was choosing to ignore their flailing arms and wads of cash. When I did manage to fight my way through, I, half panicked, tried to explain the situation that our flight was due to depart in 50 minutes. While the other officers stood in the background chatting and checking their phones, he cooly told me to take a seat and that it’d be fine. With 35 mins left, our names were finally called. Not only did Benny and I have to jump the immigration queue whilst I was apologising like a crazy person, our luggage had not even arrived at the carousel. How we managed to make that plane is still questionable.

Anyway, we’re here to talk about my impressions of Nha Trang. We stayed at the Alana Nha Trang Beach Hotel, which was (suprisingly) next to a….beach. The first thing that I noticed on the drive from the airport was the vasts amount of ongoing construction of mostly hotels and resorts. Any space that wasn’t occupied looked pretty desolate. Despite the 45 minute drive to where all the action was at, Nha Trang seemed really small. One thing you’ll also notice when visiting are the Russians. I’m assuming Nha Trang is their “go to ” place because there were definitely more Russians than locals . In addition, pretty much everything was written in russian, as well at the menus and the staff were more likely to speak russian than english , which I found amusing. This was only somewhat disappointing in the sense that we didn’t feel like we were experiencing much of the ‘local culture’ and that everything was geared towards tourists. It was only when taking a late night walk towards the “inner city” where the tourists began to disappear and you began to see actual homes and locals riding on their mopeds. Speaking of mopeds, the traffic was crazy. Not only did I really notice the absence of traffic lights and pedestrian crossings, no one actually stopped for you when trying to cross the road unless you were literally in their face. You know that scene in Mulan where the old lady claims to have a “lucky cricket” which will protect her? So to prove her point, she crosses the road blindfolded? Thats basically how you felt, because if you gave a driver eye contact or hesitated in the middle of the road, well, it might not have been pretty.

Though I personally didn’t feel that Nha Trang was the type of place where you had a checklist of a million things to do, I did enjoy lounging on the beach, and visiting the mudbaths at I-resort. If you’re planning on taking a trip there, I would recommend that you go early to avoid the large numbers of people arriving at noon. The street food was also pretty great. Writing this post is making me crave a Banh Mi. What I loved was that each stand had their own unique way of making the sandwich. My favourite one had slabs of butter, pork belly, vegetables and a ridiculous amount of chilli. Hurts so bad, but tastes so good. Seeing as I feel like I have said everything there is to say about my stay, I’ll let some pictures do the rest of the talking!

– A Pearl of the Orient.

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View from the rooftop pool at our hotel.

 

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Enjoying happy hour upon arrival.

 

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Our first meal: Pho.

 

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After pushing through a crowd to see what all the fuss was about, I realised it was because they were about to serve up a massive snake and alligator for lunch.

 

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Taken shortly before high-tide resulting in this poor couple getting everything wet. On a side note, the waves were crazy strong and I got rolled around real good on my first attempt at a swim. There was sand in places it shouldn’t have been.

 

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I- Resort pool.

 

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Trying to figure out if I like the mud, which I decided, I really do. Also you naturally float in it so you can lie on your back and pretend to be an otter… it’s actually pretty fun. Don’t judge me.

 

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Fresh fish, anyone?

 

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Now this was where the action was at. This picture to me, was what what I imagined Vietnam to be.

 

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Had to get some Durian while I had the chance. The hotel would’t allow me past the lobby because of the smell though. Woops.

What I didn’t expect in my early twenties.

As a kid, I often imagined myself all grown up. I pictured myself in my mid-twenties, living in my own apartment in a big city, with a successful job, an adorable golden retriever and a bathtub filled with 100 dollar bills. One day, reality got out of bed and proceeded to give me a slap in the face. So without further ado, here are a few things that didn’t turn out the way I expected.

 Not looking like an adult
This is not to say that I get mistaken for a child but …a prepubescent teenager at the least. Whereas this generations 12 year olds are busy looking like young adults, I’m still getting ID’d at the local supermarket for trying to buy a bottle of wine for gods sake.  WHERE IS THE JUSTICE!?

Not being a makeup godess
I have yet to master the fine arts of makeup. Though I can just about manage to put on foundation, blush and mascara, anything beyond that is pushing it. If I try to do anything out of the ordinary or involving more than two eyeshadow colours I tend to end up resembling Ursula from The Little Mermaid. I’ve also pretty much given up on trying to work false lashes for a night out. Most attempts have ended in a tantrum, tears, a faceful of smeared eyeliner and me back in my pyjamas. Ladies, it ain’t pretty.

Not being mature
Wasn’t I supposed to go through a life-changing transformation by now? I thought I’d wake up one day and I don’t know…know how to adult? I’m pretty sure I have the same mental state as I did a few years ago, I’m just better at hiding it. Someone farting? Still hilarious . Getting ‘cooties’ from boys because they are ew? Still a thing.

 Not being able to eat whatever
I know, I was shocked too. Contrary to wishful thinking, one can no longer eat Mcdonalds 5 days a week as well as a variation of sweets and chips without consequences. Now I actually have to TRY make health-conscious choices. When I don’t ( which happens more often than not) at least I feel guilty about it! I am going places.

Not being at the epitome of my party life
I thought finally being legal, I’d go all out. I’d leave my inhibitions behind and spend countless nights partying till dawn. Instead of having my tolerance increase, it has hit rock bottom. When three beers get you borderline drunk, you have a problem. Also, hangovers feel 100 times worse. I don’t know how I ever went out over more than 2 consecutive nights in a row. I can try to stick to wine spritzers all night to minimize the damage but you can bet that I’ll still wake up feeling like my bodys been dragged to hell and back again. Twice.  Plus let’s admit it, the best part of a night out now adays is the kebap on the way home though technically, it could probably be made of carpet and it would still taste bomb.

My love for red wine
Ok I realise I was just whining about hangovers but red wine is love. Women in movies like Sex in the city are portrayed for loving their wine and lots of it. Not that long ago I would have gagged at the thought so I don’t know how I got here, but there’s no going back. A glass of red wine after a stressful week or accompanying me on a night in is like having a warm, emotion filled embrace (in liquid form). Then I pass out, mouth open, hand in spaghetti, feeling like I’m lying in a bed of roses.

Having a schedule
I used to heavily judge those who had a calender and had to ‘check their schedule’ before agreeing to making plans.It sounds so obnoxious , right? I HAVE BECOME THAT PERSON. I probably wouldn’t make it through my semester without ical and god forbid if I lose that planner. I can actually use that pretentious line ‘I’ll pencil you in for Wednesday from 7 to 745pm’ and be dead serious about it. When it comes to brunches with my friends? It takes intense planning and swapping of schedules before we can agree to meet…three weeks later.

Not finding my calling
I have so many talented friends who have really figured out where they are going in life and are headed straight to the top. Me? I’m pretty much just chilling. I don’t quite know what to do with myself just yet. As for exceptional talents, I’m still looking. I can make really ugly facial expressions though? And my eyelids are really pudgy? That must count for something!

So a lot has changed and not everything happened like I thought it would but that is the wonderful thing we call life and as we’ve all figured out, sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.
Have a great weekend!

-A Pearl of the Orient.

 

Phuk- et! We’re going to Thailand.

Isn’t it wonderful when one has something to look forward to?  Back in September of 2015, Benny and I decided to take a pass on many nights of take-out sushi, expensive christmas presents and extravagant ski trips to save for a getaway in February to Asia . The cold weather tends to lose its appeal with the absence of ginger bread cookies and christmas lights ; apparently Christmas music doesn’t lose its appeal till much later as our local Chinese restaurant was still playing Silent Night, Holy Night till late January…

After months of anticipation we were off! Now when I look back at it, it feels like a dream. Our first stop was Bangkok. I’m not going to lie to you, Benny and I were more excited about the food than anything else and we did not come home disappointed! We were lucky to have a variety of street markets in the area and over- indulged ourselves with street food by averaging 5 or more meals per day. I wish I was exaggerating. For what they lacked in hygiene ( best not to dwell too long on this aspect) , they made up for in taste, atmosphere and price.

Then, we did all the typical things that tourists do like visiting The Grand Palace , shopping at Chatuchak market,treating ourselves to an obnoxious amount of foot massages , getting ripped off by boat tour guides , riding a Tuktuk with a driver who had no regard for speed limits and then… eating some more. Bangkok is also known for its crazy night life amongst tourists and although unplanned, we managed to have a crazy night out of our own. I would divulge the details, but then again I wouldn’t because my mum reads this blog and well…the rest is self explanatory.

Our next stop?… Phuket! Our main aim was to simulate sloths and that’s pretty much what we did. With the odd bout of water rafting and elephant riding, a majority of the time was spent drinking coconuts, lounging on sun-beds, getting sand in all the places it shouldn’t be and watching mums get hilariously wasted at the pool bars happy hour . IT WAS GLORIOUS; minus the food poisoning towards the end of our stay. That? Not so much fun. I know what you’re thinking…of course we got food poisoning over there from that ridiculous amount of street food we were consuming but alas! It was the juicy, innocent looking beef burger at the hotel that turned out to be the devil. The romantic Valentine’s day dinner plans the next day abruptly went down the drain (amongst other things )and we spent the day in bed pathetically slurping on instant noodles.

After barely recovering, we headed on over to Malaysia to visit my mum. Many things that were on our list such as visiting Legoland, or popping over to Singapore never crystallised. With battered bodies, we surrendered to rest and ironically, more food. All in all , it was an incredible trip and I feel like trying to write a post about it is actually doing it an injustice. Experiences like that are felt by the soul and sometimes they simply aren’t made for sharing.You just had to be there.

Holy shit, I am deep.

– A Pearl of the Orient.

P.S. I realise that some pictures would’ve gone along well with this post but seeing as I’m a broke student and couldn’t afford to buy a good quality camera ( though I hope to in the near future) before going abroad, I feel that most of the photos I took are not worth sharing . You can , however, check out my Instagram (apearloftheorient) for a few .

 

 

The woes of working retail

Photo copyright of : www.aubergeduquartierquebec.comWorking in retail, I come in to contact with many different types of people over the course of the day. When you see certain types of people regularly you begin to categorize them like I have and can spot them out the second they set foot in the store. So, i’ve compiled a list of some of the more ‘interesting’ customers my colleagues and I have the ‘pleasure’ of working with.

The Groper-

The groper loves to touch. No, not people but clothes. The groper is fairly common and can easily be recognized when they enter the store. They rush for the nearest table and begin feeling over each and every single piece of clothing with no intention whatsoever of buying said item. Heaven forbid if we have something fluffy.

The Bargain hunter –

The bargain hunter is 90 percent of the time asian ( we do like our good deals) and comes in regularly to check what is on sale . If we have sweatpants for clearance, you know they’re about to buy ten pairs and ask you five times if you have more sizes in the back. You also know that if by accident, a pair of sweat pants that cost 29.99 instead of 28.99 slipped into the pile, they will be returning to the store shortly after the purchase, receipt clutched in hand.

The Stubborn shopper-

This stubborn shopper walks in already looking a little forlorn. They can either be found walking in circles or staring at an item like it’s just grown a face . When approaching said person and asking if they would like assistance, you can bet that the answer is ‘no’. The other week, I approached a young lady who looked like she was having trouble with finding jeans in her size. When I asked if I could advise her, she insisted she was fine. She then proceeded to wreck all the neatly folded stacks to take out 5 pairs of the same jeans in the same size. When I kindly pointed this out, she mumbled an ‘ I know’ and went to the fitting room to try on EVERY SINGLE PAIR. Gee, I wonder why none of them fit…?

The Walking fashion show-

The walking fashion show is extremley profitable when they show up to the cash register with full arms but more often than not, they show up to the fitting rooms with half the store, parade around a mirror and after an hour of trying everything on, leave empty handed. Wasted time for both me AND you, bud.

The #rkoi (Rich kid of Instagram) –

The #rkoi is almost always a girl ranging in age from 14 to 18 years old. She struts in with her Michael Kors purse in one hand and the holy grail: her Iphone 6 in the other and her freshly manicured nails glitter as she hands you daddys credit card. Yes child, please let me assist you in spending my months equivalent of rent on some clothes.

The Tornado-

The cherry on the cake :The Tornado, is my least favourite of all people. They enter the store, wreck it and leave it looking like a hurricane just hit. No mercy. Regardless of the fact that you clearly JUST folded that pile of tank tops, they aren’t shy. They’ll go right ahead and annihilate your hard work. Suddenly there’s a trail of jumpers on the floor, a half naked mannequin and somewhere in the corner, a crying coworker.

So go on, own up… which type are you? Let me know in the comment section below!

P.S.  It doesn’t actually matter, i hate you all.

–  A Pearl of the Orient.

Ready to find your prince?

I love my mum and she’s taught me more valuable lessons in my life then I can count.
Granted she didn’t always use the gentlest of means to teach me but I mean … most korean mums don’t. But we’ll get to my hilarious and memorable upbringing another time.

My mum made me aware of the law of attraction at a very young age and always reminded me to clearly visualise and consciously work towards what I wanted in the future- the cosmos would handle the rest. This involved multiple drawings of mansions and future houses i would live in and of the man i would one day marry. But a quickly scribbled drawing of a man in purple crayon can only do so much. So she told me to write a list of all the most important attributes my future prince charming would have to have and keep it safe. Ofcourse I wanted to jot down every positive adjective recorded in the dictionary but after some careful reconsideration and multiple edits, i had done it and was content with the Prince i had conjured on paper.

As obvious as it seems now, it was only a few days ago when i randomly started thinking about my list from all those years ago ( which i still have by the way) that i realised how genius it actually is . I can only recommend you write your own for the following reasons:

1) The Law of attraction. I absolutely believe that the things we truly desire and envision have a way of finding their way to us. Unfortunately, nothing comes without a little elbow grease which leads me to my next point.

2) A list will help you reflect on your own character…yes, i’m talking about all your negative aspects too! Once you’ve acknowledged your own weaknesses , you’re ready to work on them and make sure that YOU are the person your prince would want to be with. Ever heard of the saying: ”Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity”? Well this is that. Increase your chances while you’re ahead.

3)It’s okay to have set standards! You don’t have to waste time kissing every single frog in the pond because you’ll recognise when someone checks the blank boxes. If you’re just looking for fun, that’s ok too but when it really comes down to it,  you’ll be able to distinguish between a summer fling and something that may be leading somewhere ( excuse the vague language).

So what are you waiting for? Grab that pen & paper and let the universe handle the rest. What 3 qualities are at the top of your list?

– A Pearl of the Orient.