Thursday, July 30, 2015

In Love with Vietnam

July 2017

Have been video chatting with her everyday since I come back to from Vietnam. We have been planning for our next meet up. The initial plan is to make use of the long weekend in Singapore from 7Aug to 10Aug where I will travel to Vietnam to meet her family and travel back to Singapore to meet my family.

However, to further make use of our precious time. We decide to meet at Vietnam from 16 Jul and I will go back to Singapore on 20 Jul. She will be staying there to complete her research and come to Singapore on 6 Aug staying till 11 Aug before going back to Taiwan to continue her studies.

16 Jul 2015 (Thursday)

My flight to Vietnam is in the late afternoon at 5pm, I need to be at the airport at 3pm. I took a half-day leave to clear up as many work as I could and assigning tasking to my interns. Then during lunch time, I went to collect my 'bak gua' (Gift that I will be bring to Vietnam for her family since they never eat before) and go back home to do a final luggage check.

After that, my dad drive me to the airport where he keep telling me to be careful, be beware of this, look out for that and be EARLY at the airport when you are coming back because the plane will not wait for you and so on.

To be frank, this Vietnam trip is a trip that I truly grown up as I did encounter a few 'Bad Luck'.

My 1st bad luck is at the check in counter. I was told that the name of the ticket that I book (Ryan Tan) does not tally with my NRIC (Tan Guo Zheng). As a result, I will not be allow to fly off unless I paid an additional $41.00 to change my tickets name.

I discover that this happened before I usually use my online name as 'Ryan Tan'. As a result, Google auto-filled actually filled up my name as 'Ryan Tan' instead of 'Tan Guo Zheng'.

Without much of a choice, I paid the money. Spent more than half of my backup money for this trip.

With that, I can finally proceed to board the plane...

With a bit of delay, my flight reached Ho Chi Ming around 2 hours plus later. I was expected to wait for another 3 more hours before my gf arrived.

Knowing that I would miss her, I asked for her photo when she is at the airport (She arrived quite early at the airport).

However, she informed me that her flight got delayed by 3 hours plus (2nd bad luck).

I end up waiting for her for 6 hours plus in the airport, kind of miss her a lot and I still managed to clear 2 movies. Hahaa...

She arrived about 2am in the morning, I was really tired but the moment I saw her the tiredness is gone. I feel that all the waiting is worth it as long as I get to see her safe and sound.

We took a cab to the hotel that I book and found out that our bad luck isn't over. When we arrived at the hotel, we were shocked to find that we do not have a hotel room as the owner actually rent my room (I already paid for it online) to someone else thinking that I will not be coming. (3rd bad luck)

The hotel name is : New Pearl Hotel Saigon 

After a lot of discussion, the owner of the hotel help me to book another room from another hotel and refunded me part of my booking money.

By the time we check in to the new hotel room, its already 3am in the morning. As both of us are really tired and simply proceed to wash up and sleep.

Shortly after I finish bathing, we experience a 'Black Out'(4th bad luck)! The whole room when dark suddenly, leaving my gf scared and shock. I was able to keep my cool and used a use my powerbank as a torchlight. We managed to get the hotel stuff to restart the power, it was 4am in the morning by then. I suspect that the cause of the 'blackout' is cause by gf's "Made in Taiwan Hairdryer" as the watt and voltage will be different in Vietnam.

17 Jul 2015 (Friday)

We woke up around 11 am in the morning and decided to go to buy the bus ticket to her hometown. As one thing led to another, we did not managed to buy any tickets as all the bus tickets around the area was sold-out (5th bad luck). We search high and low for 1 hours plus but no valid.

With that in mind, I told her that we might not be able to visit her mum as all the tickets to her hometown seem fully book. We might need to extend the stay in hotel as well. However, she replied to me that we will have to check out by 3pm as the room is already booked for the next customer (6th bad luck?). The time is already 1:30pm.

Without much choices, we decided to take a taxi back to the hotel 1st (We been walking around for 1 hours plus, the distance is rather far away). Go back to check out the hotel and then go to her Big Sis's fashion shop to see if they could help us or not. Or at least to stay there until we found another hotel.

Thank to my gf, she briefly told the taxi driver about our situation and we managed to get a good advice from him. The reason that we are until to book a bus ticket is because the shops around this area are usually small-scale bus company that only have 1-2 bus trip per day, plus they usually work with the tour agency so its common that the tickets will sell out. He pointed out that we should go to the public bus station where there will be a scheduled bus that should leave every hour. In addition, we should check out and go there with our luggages right away.

Thinking that his idea is actually quite good and workable, I decided to make the decision and do as what he said.

Upon reaching the bus stations, we finally managed to buy 2 tickets where the bus will be leaving at 1 pm (leaving in about 20 minutes time if I remember).

(7th bad luck) 130 pm already yet the bus did not move at all, the photo shows that the bus condition look fine, but actually it doesn't. 1st of all, the air-con is not cool enough, the whole bus is rather hot and stuffy. The seat aren't really clean (it give me a sticky and sweaty feeling).

The bus finally started to move at 2pm (We end up waited for an hour) but it stop shortly after moving for about 5 seconds. Next all the passenger are told to leave the bus (My gf told me that this bus is illegal to carry passenger and thus, deny to leave the bus depot) and walk to a near-by patrol-station to re-board the bus.

However, with that, the rest of my journey are rather smooth (The road condition in Vietnam is rather bad, most of the time is bumping up and down) and we start to have some chat with about my gf's mother and how to spend the rest of my holiday here. (The journey is about 8-9 hours so we will be expecting to reach there at 10 to 11 pm).

18 Jul 2015 (Saturday)

We arrived at the house about 2am plus in the morning (There jams and heavy traffic plus 1 hours of break time). Although I had been sleeping in the bus most of the time, I still feel really tired. The 1st thing that my gf warned me that they have a very fierce guard dog and always keep a distance from him as he will bite. My 1st impression of her guard dog is like this:

HOWEVER, her dog look somewhat like this:

Throughout my 2 days 2 nights stay, her dog did not bark at me at all and keep wagging his tail whenever he saw me. His size is quite small for a guard dog as well.

That aside, we started to do a quick wash-up again and get to sleep. Vietnamese house is a bit hot and stuffy due to poor air circulation, the windows are not open at all, just a long and narrow 15 cm wide gap to make sure that you got enough oxygen (Luckily there is a fan right in front of me to increase the air circulation).

I spent the night making my gf worried for me as she tried to visit me every hours to see if I saw sleeping well, since I am her bf. I managed to exceed her expectation, I was actually sleeping like a log and I even sleep talk. Hahaha, I guess I am too tired!

In the middle of my sleep, I was woke up by her younger brother. He must be surprise that out of no where, a man suddenly appear and sleep at his house.

I woke about about 6 to 7am in the morning (4 hours later). I started to wake up and look around the house. Unlike the view I used to see in Singapore, her house's main door is facing a mountain(There isn't any mountain in Singapore by the way).

Can you spot her dog?

The mattress leaning on the wall is where I slept, thank to the fan. I am able to sleep well.

After a washing up, there are three things that we needed to do. 
1st thing is to buy a pair of bus tickets back to Ho Chi Ming for tomorrow night (We need to buy early to get a good bus). 
2nd thing is to eat breakfast, a local breakfast as we spent the last 2 days with delay and rushing. We didn't really had a proper meal.
3rd thing is to get a data-sim card to whatapps my family.

But, what is our mode of transport? Motorbike! 

At 1st, I was thinking that is it possible to take Taxi or bus or anything that have 4 wheels instead of 2. After all, I have never ride a bike before at all. 
After I told her that I never ride a bike before, my gf saw really confident to reply that it's fine, I can take you around, don't worry about it, etc. Even her mum said the same thing as well, I guess Motorbike is a very common transport in Vietnam and it is somewhat safe too (Hard to believe but after my experience, I agreed that riding a bike there is safer then Singapore. This is because, they give way).
With that, I being my bike journey with a fairly loud scream and repetitive use of common language such as 'Be Careful!', 'Watch Out!', 'Slow Down', etc.
I start to ask my gf to slow down whenever it reach the speed of 30km/h, but after a day of riding. I start to adapt to the speed and was fine at the speed of even 50km/h (Trust me, I know that when we are in a car, 50km/h is like really slow. But when you are riding a bike, it's really fast!)

After we brought the bus tickets (Buy from a more reputable bus company), we head straight to a street stall for breakfast.

A hardly find any oil yet, its nice and delicious! It's true! The taste is unique and fragrance!

Shortly after, we went to the beach to relax and enjoy ourselves. We took a slow stroll along the beach, looking at the sky, the sea and each other in the eyes.

Coming late afternoon, we went back home for dinner (her mum cook, my gf help out as well, her 2nd Sis and husband also come over to meet and eat with me).

During this short period of time, her youngest brother came back from work. Her youngest brother is quite tall (1.80m at least) and handsome. He took me out for fishing and I realise that guys here prefer more outdoor activities like fishing or soccer instead of computer gaming and movies. 
I still remember that he warmed me about my gf : "Everything you see from her, is not true!"    
I reply: "I know."

At first, I am worried that I can't get use to the food her mum cook. However, my worry is wrong, her mum is a great cook and I came to know that there are a lot of different way to eat the same food. No picture for this as I saw too busy finishing up the food. XP
One thing to take note of is that before the start of the dinner, I saw her brother-in-law came took a bowl up and mutter something and then everyone laugh. Later I came to know that he was asking why is the bowl so new today.

After the dinner, we all went out to watch a fire performance.
There is one funny incident that after, I am still new to ride a bike, thus when we were leaving the basement car park, my gf suddenly increase the power in the motorbike to increase it's power and speed to climb up a slope. In the eye of a pass-by, it is properly common. But for me, I thought the bike is going to fly off! Hence, I let out a loud scream! (Yes, it is embarrassing and yes, her family saw it as well.)  

Then, of course we get to have some free time together. She really love seaside.

19 Jul 2015 (Sunday)

The next day morning, it's her mum's turn to treat me coffee and breakfast.

The food may look about the same as the last picture, but the taste is not. I realise that every street stall is have their own unique taste. French bread is a common food in Vietnam, in this case, the bread is use to dip into the soup. Most of the reader should be wondering, the soup look plain, so how tasty could it get? It's actually quite tasty! 

Next, we took another short motor ride to her aunt's coffee house. Where we have our drinks after breakfast. 
As you can see, I get to enjoy the tea while waiting for the coffee to drip in bit by beat.

... After 1 minutes...

Her aunt and her stall.

I spend the next afternoon learning to ride a bike, managed to ride to the speed of 30km/h, not bad, it's quite easy to learn.

Next, we went to a food stall that she used to visit frequently when she was a student, the taste is still good! Although the level of hygiene is rather poor, the food is good! I am also surprise by the fact that I have not had any diarrhoea thru-out the whole trip!  

A unique way to eat pudding with coffee on it.

Next our baby is born! 
Actually, it's not. The baby belong to her 2 sis (She is suppose to deliver her baby in one week time, but I think her son can't wake to see me. I took the chance to take this 'Family Photo' and went back to joke around with my friends and colleagues.)

After having a quick dinner, we went back home and have a good chat with her mum before we start to package up our stuff and take a coach ride back to Ho Chi Ming. (Lucky for us, the coach arrived on time and the seat is fairly comfortable.)

20 July 2015 (Monday)

We arrived at Ho Chi Ming about 6 in the morning (Bus arrived early) and we took a cab to where her Big sis shop is "A LA MODE vn".

Had a short breakfast with her 3rd brother and then a short meeting session with her Big sis. After that, we went to the red church and other tourist spot near Ho Chi Ming.

Then, we rush ourselves to the airport and took some farewell photo! She will be coming to Singapore on 6 Aug 2015 @ 5pm!

Bye Bye Vietnam, see you again!
And I am back in Vietnam 2 hours later...

I end up missed the flight by 5 mins, the gate was closed (This should be the 8th bad luck)... Lucky for me I managed to contract my gf thru Facebook messenger and took a cab back to her sister's shop. At this point of time, I am totally broke (to act tough plus gentlemen, I give her all my money, not a lot). Hence, without any second thought, she paid all my expenses for the rest of the day including the plane ticket back to Singapore (US$35). I am also forced to take and extra leave from my work. 

My Parents, Sister, Friends, colleagues all stunned!
Whenever someone ask me why I miss the flight, my usual reply is "My son was born and I had to stay there for an extra night." and then I show them that 'Family photo' taken earlier. LOL
Some didn't, but some did believe it! 

That aside, my gf know that I am in a moody mood, hence, she took me out to a supermarket and cook a nice dinner for me.

She can really cook! 

In Vietnam, the local usually had their meal on the floor, said that it's is more closer and the bond is better.

After dinner, we went out for a walk and she treat me with some locate dessert. Its like Ice-kachang, except that it is a more healthy version.

21 July 2015 (Tuesday)

Woke up like 6 to 7 am in the morning, where her family again took me a cafe by the river to enjoy coffee again while chill. Next, we when back to the shop to pack my bag (nothing much to pack since I only took out what is needed). 

However, I did get to meet another menber of her family!

It's her Sister's daughter!

Again, I took this opportunity to take another shot of a 'Family' photo.

Of cuz, lesson learnt, we went to the airport 30 mins more earlier and took a lot less photos.

Took another photo to prove that I am indeed on a plane... haha

And, I am back to Singapore! Told my adventure to my parents and friends and got an review that this journey of mine should be shot or written down as too many things happen. From this, I believe that I have learnt a lot from this trip and I do feel that I grown a lot.

Oh ya, I didnt really feel moody with this trip despite the number of incident happened. Especially the last day where I missed the flight, I get to spend one extra day with my gf and we had a lot of heart-to-heart talk as well. I feel that our love had grown too. ;)


Sunday, July 26, 2015

In love in Taiwan

May 2015

After knowing her for quite sometime, I decided to go to Taiwan to visit her (She promise me to be my free tour guide) and also to take a quick break from my work (Working there is too busy and tired, before I knew it, I have been there for 6 months).

Although I tell my family and friends that I will be going there to visit a friend of mine that is studying in Taiwan, my true purpose is actually to visit her XD. As a result, my parents was shock that after they found out that I travelled 3,115 km to visit a girl I met online, looking back, I think I am quite bold.


03 May 2015 (Sunday)

Arrived at Taipei Airport about 6am in the morning, My body was rather tired from the 5 hours flights (0155 hrs - 0600 hrs)

Got a bit of food from the Taiwan's 7/11 store, brought a 悠悠卡 and waiting for the most important shop to open....
The unlimited data plan of 3G simcard for tourist.
As a backpacker, I would see this as the most important stuff of all.
Communication is the most important things of all.

When I saw queuing for the simcard and was wonder which telco to choose from, I saw one of the three telco suddenly open up 15 mins early then the expected time of 8am. As I am in a hurry, I decided to buy from this telco instead since it looks the same to me.

Lesson Learnt: A 15mins head start is very important, important enough to beat your rival.

After a 3 hours bus ride and checked in to a hotel, I went to 台中火车站 to meet her. My 1st impression of her, strong and independent. Her chinese is better than what I expected as well.

And thus, she started to show me around TaiChung. Travel to various places and street (夜市). Slowly, I start to realise that she herself aren't really familiar with the area as well as we started to get lost.

Lucky, I have my smartphone and data plan. I being to do my own research and start to recommend and plan the route based on google map and trip advisor while taking a break in a cafe.

 My 1st photo with her.

Taichung Science Center, the 3D movie are not as good quaintly but still good enough to make a lot of kids crying as the movie played.

Some Uni in Taichung, found this icon look alike to google map's icon...

By the end of the day, we chat about and become very comfortable with each other.

04 May 2015 (Monday)

2nd Day of the programme is to visit her University, Chi Nan National University located in Puli.

Managed to make my way there by myself to find her. Since its a University, it is quite easy to travel there as long as I follow a group of students that board the bus.

Her school is really beautiful, its big and the weather is cool all year round. I really hope that I could have study here as the environment here is really relaxing, unlike the schools in Singapore.

This is the library where she accept me on wechat. LOL, she is camera shy!

After visiting her University, she took me to Sun-Moon Lake. It is the key event that brought me and her together.

As you can see from the photo above, the sky is rather dark.

The rain started to fall and getting heavier and heavier as time pass. As a guy, I do not have the habit of carrying an umbrella. As a result, we end up sharing one small umbrella and we have to keep close to each other through out the rain.

For the next 2-3 hours, we joked and play around in the rain and a lot of funny things happened. One of the most funny incident is that when she board a bus and saw asking directions from the bus driver, but in order to keep the water from the umbrella dripping onto the bus, she tried to place her umbrella out of the bus's door (left hand if I remember correctly) and preventing me from moving in to the bus. I tried to take the umbrella from her to cover myself from the rain but she hold it really tightly, I also tired to make my way in but she already blocked the pathway.

She only realise that I was outside of the bus ditch in the rain after she finished talking to the bus driver. However, despite all this, I would get angry at her at all. All I could do is laugh and tease her, after all, her smile is so beautiful.

On the bus, I tried to hinted her if she had any feeling for me and tired to hold her hand. She did not answer me nor reject me, she just give a good squeeze on my hand and let go. I believe that our feeling are mutual, but what that is stopping us is the 'Long Distance Relationship'.

That aside, the rain still continue even after the bus ride back from Sun moon lake to Puli. Where we continue to walk in the rain (with just a small umbrella) and have our dinner.

It might look plain but it taste really nice! 超好吃!No MSG, No GST!

The dessert is awesome! Cheap and nice!
From what I can see in the photo, I feel that her smile is a lot more beautiful than the her smile yesterday. xP

05 May 2015 (Monday)

3rd day in Taiwan, today as planned, we decided (she suggest and  I agreed) to go to Tainan (台南).

When we meet up at TaiChung bus interchange. I realised that today she was wearing make up! Wow, so pretty and so beautiful! This is the 1st time I saw her wearing make up! I tried to be as calm as possible but deep down in my mind, I was so happy!

The bus ride from TaiChung to Tainan is a long 4 hours ride, but thanks to this long hours ride, I finally managed to confess my love and took my courage to hold her hand once more...

... this time round... she never let go...

As a result, my Taiwan backpacking trip become a dating honey moon type of trip! hahaha....

We been to 安平老树, Salt factory...

We came to realise that this salt factory are meant for lovers.

She got surprised when I suddenly kiss her! hehehe...

With that, 5 May 2015 is the start of our relationship.

06 May 2015 (Tuesday)

Suppose to meet my friend (Jaslin) instead. However, I was told that Jaslin will only be free at late afternoon. My initial plan are suppose to spend the morning alone in a cafe while reading a book, but since I have a girlfriend now. I decided to go to a school to meet her (Although she have a 10am to 2pm class) since I will be going back to Singapore soon (Every second of the time spent with her is very important now).

I meet up with her in Puli, where she took me to her usually breakfast stall.

After breakfast, we went to her school again when she went to attend her class while I spend the rest of the time in the school's study corner to improve her laptop.

After her class finished, we had lunch together in the school and being to explore around. Honestly speaking, her school is really huge and spacious. It is very different from Singapore.

Time Flies and soon, I need to leave her and to back to TaiChung to meet my friend Jaslin.

The rest would be quite simply as we went on for dinner in a Japanese restaurant where we have some causal chat like life in Singapore vs Taiwan, money, investment, etc.

07 May 2015 (Wednesday)

5th day in Taiwan where my vacation is coming to an end soon, we travel together to Taipei and took on to a train to 九份.

Its the 1st time I am riding a train in Taiwan since the main transport in Taichung is Bus (free for 1st 8KM) and Taxi in Tainan.
The train is quiet and comfy as we travel to 九份.
We didn't really talk a lot, we just enjoying each other company. :)

Our goal is to try every unique food there... hahaa... I end up putting on 1kg of weight, but it's worth it.

After an hour plus of walking up and down the street, we rest our leg at a cafe where we talk about how amazing this trip are and how did we both fallen in love. We both agreed that if not because of the rain, we might be having this conversion as friends rather than lovers.

That's might be how love work my friends, it's a about the right place at the right time with the right people.

Watching free movie in an old movie theatre, it feels like we are dating in the 1950s.

After this, we went to be to Taipei to visit Taipei 101 tower and had a light dinner at Ding Tai Feng. It is said that the food is better than the Singapore outlet! Can't wait to try it out!

It is always the landmark of Taiwan and it is really beautiful and romantic at night.

Not willing to pay hence I decided to take a photo of it instead. XP

It's freezing on the top if the tower! But we did not regret for not bring any jacket as we end up hugging each other tightly. Hahaha.

The next stop is ShiLin night market! Supper! Food! Bubble Tea!

Didn't really took much photo here as it is too crowded. The night market is really different from the Singapore night market. The people are more friendly here and the food is cheap and nice!

There just one funny incident where we drink to buy a bubble-tea before we leave the night market. We were discussing some-thing while ordering the bubble-tea (of course, we already paid for it) and we simply leave the stall and leave without the bubble-tea. We only realise it after we walk a for some distance later. Upon realising it, we rush all the way back like its the end of the world to get it. Lucky for us, the drinks is still there.

Whew.... Lucky lucky....

08 May 2015 (Friday)

Last day at Taiwan where I will be taking a 1955pm flight back to Singapore. It is also the day where I regret for not booking the ticket on friday instead of Sat or even Sun. I really hope that I could spend even just one more day with her. We both cry together in the morning when I shared with her the song '孤单北半球 2015' while she shared with me the song '最重要的决定'

Without wasting much time, we start to walk around 西门丁another popular tourist spot and to look for more famous food again.

I was carrying her bag for her...

I start to realise that when she really wanted to take a photo of herself, she will take off her glasses and ask me to take again. :)

FYI, she simply borrow my fried chicken chop to take photo only, I end up eating 90% of it.

Checking out of the hotel, of cuz she feel moody about it as I will be flying back to Singapore soon.

This is the final photo I took before I board the plane. Which conclude the end of my Taiwan trip. After I went back and those my family and friends about my story, all of them are surprise about it and some even shocked to know about it.

Even till now, We both made an effort to video chat every night, update each other with our life, etc.

My next trip, would be Vietnam, her country.