Tam Coc Village

Tam Coc Village

After out time in Halong Bay, our next stop was Tam Coc! Tam Coc is a small village (literally one street long), but the village is certainly not why you come here! Here you will find natural scenery, beautiful mountains and winding rivers!

After our bus trip from Halong to Tam Coc, we arrived in the evening. It was getting dark so we found our hostel and we just had a walk around the village. (Which will take you about 10 minutes it’s that small) The morning after, we ventured over to the river to take a river boat ride. It was about 8:30am, and it was the perfect time to go! It wasn’t hot, nor where there many people on the river. By 10am onwards it gets pretty busy! So I recommend doing the river tours quite early.

The area where you take the boat is literally in the middle of the village, so you definitely won’t miss it. It was a great experience, and it was just so calm and peaceful. The man rowing the boat actually used his feet to row instead of his hands which was cool to see. At one point you are on the river and there were rice fields surrounding us on either sides. It was so pretty!

 

Next we decided to rent two bikes and cycled to our next location which was Bich Dong Pagoda. When we parked our bikes the lady told us to go a different way, so we ended up going the opposite direction an up over a small mountain to the other side. There we saw a small house and a small trail (that actually just led to a dead end). The area was really nice though! Then we back to the pagoda for a look around.

Be warned! We were scammed by the lady who looked after the bikes, so if I were you, make sure you ask how much the bikes are to park! We made sure we did that since that day! It wasn’t an extortionate amount of money but we learned our lesson from then on!

The day after, we cycled to another area where you can go on another boat down the river. This was is much busier with people but it’s much longer! There are 3 routes to take and we took the longest one, which is about 2/3 hours long! And the lady who was rowing had to row all that time, with 4 people on board! She took a few breaks to let us out and explore some areas, but I’m sure it’s tough nonetheless! With this one, we shared a boat with two French people, whereas with the first river boat we took, it was just the two of us.

During this boat tour, we went through about 9 caves, and we had to duck our heads as the ceilings was so low! If you are claustrophobic I think you would struggle going through these caves. It was very exciting though!

Finally we went to visit Hang Mua Temple. Your first sight of the climb up to the top is rather daunting, and of course it was very tough to climb up it because it was super hot, super humid, and no shade at all, but it’s completely worth it. The views are spectacular!

In Tam Coc it is very easy to cycle around as it’s very flat. We just loved the countryside and it’s just as you’d imagine Vietnam to be like. Here are some pictures of it while on busses and while cycle in Vietnam and Tam Coc.

Where we stayed:

Tam Coc Family Hotel

Good: We loved this homestay. It’s run by the whole family and they are just so so nice. They are genuinely lovely people and very welcoming. The hotel/ homestay is beautiful, one of the nicest places we have stayed in. The room was clean and there were no faults whatsoever. This place would be exactly what I would love to have if I had a hostel. It was beautiful and well kept!

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Bad: There was nothing to complain about! The only thing was that for breakfast, it took rather a long time to arrive! But I think it was because the family make the breakfast and maybe they don’t have enough people. So if you are in a hurry to get somewhere, definitely order it well in advance! But apart from that there was absolutely no problems whatsoever!

Would I recommend? 100% YES!

So our trip to Vietnam had ended. After our time in Tam Coc we returned to Hanoi for 2 nights and then headed back home. We absolutely loved Vietnam, and I’d love to go back again and travel to the south. There’s just so much to see! It really exceeded my expectations!

Aislng

El Nido: What Should I Bring?

El Nido: What Should I Bring?

Hearing things like “The wifi is bad in El Nido”…”Electricity goes on and off all the time”….”There’s an ATM but a lot of times it has no money in it”…. I wasn’t exactly sure what to prepare for El NIdo!

But thankfully we needn’t have worried!

Backpacks

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We were so so happy that we brought our 30L backpacks to the Philippines. All through our travels in China, we never had to check them in. We were thankful that for the Philippines we also didn’t have to, even when we were flying with AirSwift. (and their luggage restrictions was about 7Kg).

We bought these in Decathlon (Chengdu) and they are super useful, can hold quite a lot of things, has a waist belt for extra support, and we don’t have to worry that they will be too big as carry on luggage. I think if we bought the 40L ones, they would have been a tad too large, so these are perfect if you want to travel light.

Water Shoes

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This was the first time that I bought water shoes, as I’ve never really been to a place where I needed to use them, but for some of the Island Hopping Tours, I strongly recommend you buy or rent a pair. In some places there are lots of rocks and it’s incredibly hard to walk on them, especially if the water is a little rough!

Again, we bought these in Decathlon and they were perfect for the trip. They are comfortable and the soles are thick, so you have good grip on the rocks. When we were on the tours, I noticed the people who had no shoes on them were struggling to walk on the sharp rocks.

If you don’t want to buy a pair, you can easily rent them in the town.

Money: 

As we heard that the ATM there hardly ever works, we decided to bring more money than we actually needed…. about 25,000 pesos each. Our hotel was already paid for so we just needed money for food and the excursions. We definitely brought too much, but the scams that we heard about and if either of us happened to loose some money or anything, at least we wouldn’t have to worry about our funds.

Thankfully with the leftover money that we had, we were able to change it at the airport for both Dollars and Euro before we left.

Flight Details:

I usually never print out flight details, but this time we had a few layovers so we wanted to be prepared with everything. At Manila airport we needed to show our flight details. Then when we were at El Nido airport, at the entrance the security man wanted to see our details for that flight too. So in the end we were thankful that we had everything at hand! To be prepared, I suggest you print out all of these things.

GoPro/Underwater Camera:

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A few years ago, one of our friends also visited El Nido, so she lent us her camera to bring. It was great! Because you can use it underwater, we didn’t need to bring our cameras, so we didn’t need to worry about if they get wet!

In El Nido town we bought a stick that can be used underwater, making it easier to use the camera under the water as it’s lighter. The normal stick was just too heavy.

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Waterproof Bag

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Again, our friend lent us this waterproof bag to bring with us. But of course, in the town  you can easily buy one at every corner. They come in a range of different sizes and colours, and it was very reassuring to know that our phones and money and what not were safe in it.

So these are the items which we brought and were really useful for us, and these are the items that I recommend you bring along with you. If you forget some necessities you can just buy pretty much everything else in the town. You could easily just bring an empty bag and buy what you need when you arrive! T-shirts, shorts, dresses, sun glasses, bikinis, flip-flops, there is a hairdressers (my fiancé got his hair cut there) a pharmacy, an opticians (fiancé got his glasses there) massage parlours, oh and plenty of restaurants.

In a place called Art Cafe they have shampoo, conditioner, lady sanitary things, aloe vera gel, sun cream, deodorant, phone chargers…. you definitely won’t be stuck for anything!

So if you do happen to forget something… don’t worry… El Nido town has you pretty much covered!

再见

爱玲

What We Did In El Nido Part 2

What We Did In El Nido Part 2

Still having 2 more tours to do, we next opted to do Tour A. This tour consists mainly of visiting lovely beaches and lagoons, and some of the lagoons were breathtaking! For me, I thought this was the best tour!

But I can tell you, we were both exhausted by the time we got home at 4pm… definitely in need of a nice shower to wash all that sand away… then a good nap!

Another day arrived, and taking a rest from the water, we headed to try out the zip line! I’ve never done this before, and It was great fun! Unfortunately I was too busy looking at the wire and making sure my head didn’t go near it,  that I missed catching a glimpse of  most of the scenery around me!

To get to the zip line from El Nido town, you should get a tricycle for  about 150pesos and they will drop you to the small mountain that you should walk up. It only takes about 7-8 minutes but it is a little steep. After you have finished the zip line, you need to take a rickety ladder made of bamboo down to the bottom, and then walk back. During low tide the sea will be out so you can walk across the beach.

After the zip line, we got lunch and relaxed on bean bags at Las Cabanas beach.  It had such a relaxed vibe there I could have stayed all day. There is also a bar where you can order drinks or food.

On our last day before we left El Nido, we went on Tour C. We were told the day before that it may not happen, as in and around the area of Tour C the sea was a little rough. We had to wait until the morning of the trip to confirm if it was happening, and it was!

This tour consists mostly of swimming, and I tell you… this was the most difficult tour of them all! Unfortunately the sea was quite choppy… and at one point, we had to swim to a small island with a beautiful beach. But the waves were that high and strong… swimming over to it was extremely scary! Because there were boats already there, our boat was behind them, meaning we had to swim around these to get to shore.

Our tour guide told us to swim as a group, and I tried my hardest to swim along and keep up… the current was so strong. Then we got near the shore… but the waves were huge! The problem was that there were loads of jagged rocks at the bottom… you could stand up ok… but then a big wave would come and sweep you off your feet. Because my shins were still quite tender, I was so afraid that I would hit them off the rocks.

Oh my god I was so scared. I started to panic that I wouldn’t be able to get to the shore, and I would get injured by the rocks. Thankfully I made it, but I was really shook up. I really didn’t want to have to get back into the water… and worse… swim AGAINST the current. Swimming with the current wasn’t exactly easy!

So during our 15 minutes at this pretty beach, all I was thinking about was how the hell am I going to get back onto the boat. I told my fiancee “I don’t think I’ll be able to swim to the boat… the water’s too strong”. He said he’ll help me and not to worry.

The time came to risk my life again. Thankfully I was wearing my life jacket which helped a lot! I started panicking. How am I going to do this??? The rocks are too sharp… I can either try and walk it to the deeper parts, but risk falling…. or try and swim and risk cutting my legs because of the rocks… 

In my group there was another lady  and she was holding on to the tour guide…. she was on her back floating and the man was swimming while holding onto her. So I reached her and I started floating backwards while holding her legs. Making sure I didn’t let go!

So there was our tour guide pulling two women behind him, while all the men were battling against the waves! Life and Death!

My fiancee was behind me trying to walk on the rocks and every few seconds he would should “Ok Aisling, there is a another wave coming!” and I would have to take a deep breathe and prepare myself for it! Because I was floating I couldn’t see any waves coming. I even had my snorkel goggles on me!

Before I knew it we were by the boat…. I was DEFINITELY done with the water by then! That was an experience I won’t forget in a long long time.

We picked a bad day to go on Tour C, and I’m pretty sure normally the water is much calmer than when we went.

Unfortunately the ocean became more and more choppy, so we couldn’t visit one beach. We would have had to go through a hole in the rock, and our tour guide said it was just too dangerous. He explained to us that one time he went through it and the water was that rough that he was hitting the rock wall. No thank you! I honestly didn’t mind at all… I had enough of the water for a while!

So our last trip was…. adventurous to say the least… so to calm us down we had a lovely meal and cocktails at a place called Mezzanine. The food is really good, and the cocktails are great too!

So our holiday had finally come to an end… leaving such paradise was hard…. and I was so depressed when we arrived back in China. . . . no more cheap cocktails, delicious meals or swimming in the sea.

But you can’t forget about the real world forever!

*TIP: If you want to try out the zip line, I suggest you go in the morning. If you go later in the day time they may not accept you as they may be too busy with people. This is what happened to us.

**TIP: For the Island Hopping Tours, I strongly advise you to bring water shoes. Tour B you don’t need them as much. But for A and C, there are a lot of rocks and it is much much easier to walk while in the shallow water. You can rent them in the town or you can bring your own. But I strongly recommend them!

Click here to check out part 1: What We Did In El Nido Part 1

What We Did In El Nido Part 1

What We Did In El Nido Part 1

Having over a week in El Nido, we weren’t pushed on time with regards to doing everything there was to offer there!

Most people come to experience the gorgeous surroundings; the islands, clear water, snorkelling and relaxing.

Our first full day we went kayaking. We decided to go just the two of us, and we kayaked to a big island where we visited around 3/4 beautiful beaches. We left at around 9am and returned at about 2:30pm. It was this day when I got extremely badly sunburned on my feet and legs. I put sun cream on, but of course my legs were wet so the cream didn’t stick very well. This led to the next few days being in pain, having swollen feet and hardly being able to move.

I loved the kayaking! However the return home was a bit more difficult! The wind was picking up and it was much harder moving against the wind. But we made it!

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MY FEET!!!!!!

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In just over a week I finished these two bottles!

With my new sunburnt and swollen feet, we decided to relax the day after, and we went to the beach.

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The weather was just perfect

The next day  I gingerly decided to try an Island Hopping Tour. The activities that everyone does when they arrive are these tours. The most popular are A,B and C.

With my feet still in pain and swollen, I took the courage to go on Tour B…. and it was a good choice to make! I think, out of all of them, Tour B was the less demanding one out of the others. Each tour consists of lunch, which are very tasty!

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Delicious!

Each tour goes to a different place, so there is no need to worry that you will visit the same place twice!

Another day, we decided to do an Inland Tour. On some occasions the water will be too rough to go on any tours, so many people will opt to go on this one instead. I suggest you go on the island tour when most people are on the island tours, as it’s not as busy.

This tour consists of going to a beach, then visiting a waterfall, then going to another beach. Unfortunately my feet weren’t up for walking up a hill to the waterfall, so we spent longer at the first beach called Nacpan Beach. . . and it was just incredible!

It is about a 45 minutes tricycle ride from El Nido and we went on a perfect day! And this was were my boyfriend proposed to me! It was just the perfect place to have been asked!

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I will have great memories of this idilic beach. It is definitely a must to visit when in Palawan!

After spending 2 lovely hours there, we went to another beach called Las Cabanas, and here I ordered a lovely iced coffee and sat next to the beach and chilled. It seems this is where the younger people come to lie on the beach, as we didn’t see as many older people.

To continue reading about our adventure, check out Part 2: What We Did In El Nido Part 2

My First Step Into The Tourism Industry

My First Step Into The Tourism Industry

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I’ve recently become involved with a company called CoolTrip in Chengdu that offer trips in and around the Sichuan area. So I’ve started volunteering for a few hours a week in order for me to gain more experience in the tourism area, as some readers may know, in the future I want to work in the tourism sector. And of course for any type of job, you need experience…so I thought this would be a great chance to gain some! Every month here I will be posting trips that they will provide. So if you are already in Chengdu and are interested in joining one, or are contemplating visiting in the future, maybe check them out!

If you want any more information on any trip, you can contact me through this blog or through WeChat: aislinghoey1

Set up in August 2015, CoolTrip has become a go to company for both Chinese and expats to partake in adventures outside of Chengdu. Rafting, paragliding and tea-picking are just a few that they offer. Their first trip was to Songping Valley… and since then, they have been offering exciting tours.

For the month of June, they are offering longtrips to Seda and Songping. For adventures,  you can go rockclimbing, paragliding and rafting. Finally for leisure, you can go tea picking.

Below you can see more information on each activity.

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