January 26, 2023

5 Days in Da Nang Vietnam

Vietnam was not on our travel bucket list but after my husband’s visit to Hanoi, Vietnam way back in 2019, we added this to our list. A few years later, my husband told me that he will attend an event in Da Nang, Vietnam and we can join his trip. 

Honestly, I never heard of Da Nang because whenever I hear Vietnam, I always think about Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, nevertheless, I was still excited because I can finally cross out Vietnam on our travel bucket list. My husband purchased our plane tickets, even though we don’t know our son’s schedule in school yet. 


Knowing my son, he doesn’t like to be absent. Fortunately, my son is still on blended learning but unfortunately, natapat yung flight namin sa face-to-face class niya. So when his classmates asked him why he was absent, he simply said “forced vacation”. Nakakaloka, nag-enjoy naman siya sa forced vacation na ito. 

5 Days in Da Nang Vietnam 

A month before our trip, the event that my husband was supposed to attend in Da Nang was canceled so we have the option to go or not. Of course, we wanted to pursue the trip because even though we have travel insurance, the reason is not valid for a refund. Also, we are looking forward to this trip. 

Then a week before our trip, I checked the weather and I was a little bit disappointed because all I can see is rain showers. Why o why? This is a 5 days trip and wala talagang araw? Well, no matter how we plan our trip, we have no control over the weather. As Sir Ranulph Fiennes said, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” so I packed clothes for rainy weather. 

Day 1 Manila to Da Nang + Hoi An Tour 

There is no direct flight from Manila to Da Nang so even though Vietnam is a few hours away from Manila, we traveled for more than 14 hours. 


Manila to Ho Chi Minh City via Philippine Airlines - 2hrs and 45mins 
Layover 5hrs and 25mins 
Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang via Vietnam Airlines - 1hr and 20mins 

We had an arranged transport service from the airport to the hotel and vice versa so our travel was very convenient. There is no traffic but it took us more than 30 minutes to reach the hotel. 


Sheraton Grand Da Nang is really a grand hotel, even though I’ve seen photos of the hotel, napa-wow pa rin ako nung nakita ko. This deserves a separate post. 


Hoi An Tour 

Prior to our trip, I was checking different tours on Klook website but my husband informed me na may nag-aarranged na ng tour so it is up to us if we will join or not. When I saw the rate and inclusions, okay naman. All we need to do is prepare USD for payment. 

Hoi An Tour for $35 per person 
Inclusion: tour guide, transportation, dinner, entrance fee, and tips 

- Hoi An Ancient Town 
- Guang Dong Assembly Hall 
- Japanese Bridge 
- Night Market 
- Lantern Festival 
- Dinner at a local restaurant 


The hotel pick-up time for this trip is 3PM but because of our late arrival, we could not make it. But we wanted to join this tour so kahit namiss na namin yung ibang tourist spots, okay lang. The tour guide fetched us at 6PM and we traveled to Hoi An. Our tour lasted until 9:30PM so it was really a long day for us. 

Day 2 Sheraton Grand Da Nang 

We did not join the Hue City Tour because we wanted to recharge and rest. #signsofaging hehehe! But I will share the itinerary, just in case you are planning a trip. 


Hue City Tour - $69 per person 
Inclusion: tour guide, transportation, lunch, seafood dinner, entrance fee, and tips 

- Stop at Hai Van Pass, Lap An for photos 
- Visit Thien Mu Pagoda; the oldest pagoda in Hue 
- Visit the Imperial Citadel; one of Vietnam’s seven UNESCO World Heritage sites. 
- Visit Khai Dinh King’s Tomb; the tomb of the 12th king of the Nguyen Dynasty 
- Lunch and seafood dinner at a local restaurant 

For our second day, we just explored the hotel, eat and rest. 

Day 3 Ba Na Hill Tour 

From what I’ve read, your Da Nang trip is incomplete if you did not visit Ba Na Hill so we made sure that we joined this tour. When I saw the pictures online, I was so excited about this trip but unfortunately, we were not able to appreciate the beauty of this place because of the fog and rain. But of course, we won’t allow the bad weather to ruin our trip so we still try to enjoy our vacation despite the gloomy weather. 


Ba Na Hill - $70 per person 
Inclusion: tour guide, transportation, lunch, entrance fee, and tips 

- Golden Bridge 
- Linh Ung Pagoda 
- Flower Garden 
- Fantasy Park 
- French Village 
- Wine Cellar 
- International buffet lunch 

After our tour, we had no time to rest because we need to prepare for our International Buffet Dinner at Table 88. Overflowing of food and drinks. #foodcoma #hangover 


Day 4 Sheraton Grand Da Nang 

We did not schedule a tour on this day because we wanted to savor our remaining days in the hotel. Like our tour guide said, we need to enjoy our hotel because it is one of the most beautiful hotels in Da Nang. 

Finally, we saw Mr. Sunshine and we had a good time with the famous infinity pool, pwede nga magkayak sa sobrang laki. 



After lunch, we were supposed to go out and buy pasalubong at Lotte Mart but it started to rain again so tinamad na kami lumabas. I packed our stuff while my husband registered us to e-travel. It is one of the requirements if you are flying to the Philippines. 

Day 5 Da Nang to Manila 

On our last day in Vietnam, we checked out as early as 5AM so sayang ang buffet breakfast. We requested packed meals na lang so we have something to eat and drink while waiting at the airport. 


Da Nang to Ho Chi Minh City via Vietnam Airlines - 1hr and 20mins 
Layover 4hrs and 10mins 
Ho Chi Minh City via Philippine Airlines - 3hrs 


It was a long trip, imagine umalis kami ng madaling araw sa Vietnam and dumating na kami ng gabi sa Manila. It was long and tiring but we were happy, Da Nang was not on our bucket list but this place surprised us and we were happy for the opportunity to visit this place.


January 24, 2023

A Quick Visit to Old Grove Farmstead

I thought our Da Nang Vietnam Trip would be our last trip for the year 2022 because I know that I would be busy preparing for the holiday season but I spoke too soon. My grandmother-in-law was in Laguna for a vacation so my husband decided na ipasyal ang kanyang lola. After what happened to our family in the past, we knew that “Life is short” and “The memories we make with our family are everything.” so despite our busyness, we tried to squeeze a trip to the farm, 

“The memories we make with our family are everything.” Candace Cameron Bure 

I would normally suggest a Tagaytay trip kaso nakailang punta na kami doon and our last trip with my grandmother-in-law was Balay Dako so I need a new destination. For the past few years, I’ve been seeing Old Grove Farmstead online, and my brother and sister-in-law also visited this farm during the pandemic; the review is “Okay lang” so when we booked this place, we have no expectations at all. 


Old Grove Farmstead offers day trips and overnight trips. For day trippers, it is by reservation only and there is a limit on the number of guests per time slot so you can choose whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Mga nakailang palit din kami ng schedule because fully booked na yung mga napili namin na time slot. Fortunately, my husband and my son were on vacation so we can change dates. 

My husband inquired and booked via Facebook messenger. A 50% downpayment (bank transfer) is needed to confirm the reservation and it is not refundable. They have different rates for weekdays, weekends, and holidays. We visited during weekdays and here are the rates. 

Old Grove Farmstead Rates Weekdays 

Package 1: Farm Visit with Breakfast 
PHP750 - Adult 
PHP550 - Kid (3-7 yrs old) 

Package 2: Farm Visit with Lunch or Dinner 
PHP950 - Adult 
PHP700 - Kid (3-7 yrs old) 

Package 3: Farm Visit with Breakfast and Lunch 
PHP1470 - Adult 
PHP900 - Kid (3-7 yrs old) 

Package 4: Farm Visit with Lunch and Dinner 
PHP1,750 - Adult 
PHP1,000 - Kid (3-7 yrs old) 

Breakfast time slot: 6:30AM - 9:30AM 
Lunch time slot: 11AM - 3PM 
Dinner time slot: 5PM to 9PM 

*Bringing in food, or drink or having it delivered is strictly not allowed. Charges will apply accordingly. 

We chose the lunchtime slot which is 11AM to 3PM. We paid PHP950 per person and which includes a self-guided tour, entrance fee, and lunch set meal. 

Day Trip at Old Grove Farmstead 

Upon arrival, we received a parking coupon and we went to the front desk which is located at the windmill for check-in and signing of the waiver. After paying the remaining 50% balance, we got a coupon for our lunch set meal. While waiting for our time slot for food, we started exploring the farm.


We visited a few farms in the Philippines na rin like Fun Farm at Sta Elena and The Farm at San Benito. Old Grove Farmstead is known for its windmill and red barn and some people said, it is like a trip to the Netherlands. Well, I have never been to the Netherlands so I can’t compare. 


Old Grove Farmstead is not that big so even if you have a limited time slot, it is more than enough for you to explore and enjoy the place. If you like taking photos and posting on Instagram, then this place is for you. Have a photo of the windmill, red barn, mand-made lake, hanging bridge, and more. 



They have a mini zoo here and if you want to feed the ducks and sheep, you can buy food for PHP100. We bought sheep food but my son and I were scared to feed the sheep with our bare hands. Takot kami makagat o madilaan ang kamay. Hehehe! Buti na lang game sina grandmother-in-law and hubby. 


In less than an hour, we finished touring the place so we just stayed in the garden while waiting for lunchtime. There is a playground so if you have kids, may ibang pang activity. 



Meals are served at Harvest Cafe, the restaurant is not that big because it only has 4 tables but they have more tables outside. But we prefer indoors and I like the interiors of the cafe + Christmas decorations. 


For the set menu, they have a separate menu for adults and kids. The set menu includes appetizers, soup or salad, dessert, iced tea, and your choice of the main dish. The menu varies but during our visit, we had Crispy Kangkong, Egg Soup, and Graham Dessert. We are a group of 4 people and we ordered the following. 

Prawn Thermidor - served with mashed potato and buttered crudites vegetable 
Rib Eye Steak - served with mashed potato and buttered crudites vegetables with mushroom sauce. 
T-Bone Steak - served with mashed potato and buttered crudites vegetables with gravy 
Batangas Classic Bulalo - local beef shank soup in clear broth, vegetables, potato, and sweet corn served with steamed white rice. 






The appetizer and soup were served in a few minutes but for the main dishes, we waited for more or less 25 minutes so if you are hungry, it is better to be early. The presentation of the food looks good but the taste is just okay. I tried the three dishes except for the bulalo and according to my husband, yun pa naman daw ang may lasa. Waah! Overall, we still enjoyed our quick trip to the farm even though we immediately went home after eating lunch. 



The Old Grove Farmstead 
Purok 5, U. Mojares Street Barangay Lodlod, 
Lipa City,4217 Batangas 
Call for Reservations: +639178952829 
E-mail: inquiries@theoldgrovefarmstead.ph

January 18, 2023

Lunch at House of Lasagna

House of Lasagna has been serving homemade lasagna since 2009, it started with their close family and friends which eventually grew into several restaurants in Metro Manila and Batangas. They also deliver in some parts of Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal. 



I’ve learned about House of Lasagna a few years ago but as expected, it took me a while to try their food. Last month, we went to Festival Mall to buy gifts for my son and sa haba ng pila sa store, inabot na kami ng gutom so we had early lunch at House of Lasagna. 

Upon being seated at the table, the staff gave us their thick menu and there are so many options but we settled for their House Bundles. We only ordered Bundle A which is good for 2 persons for PHP984. This includes Single Beef Lasagna, 1 Pergola Special Pizza, 6 pieces Original Wings and 2 Coke in Can. Good thing I did not order an additional meal because even this bundle is good for 2 persons, hindi namin naubos tatlo. May natira pa kami na pizza for take-out. 




Beef Lasagna - 100% premium ground beef 
Pergola Special - bacon, ham, tomatoes, bell peppers, black olives, onions, and mozzarella. 

House of Lasagna also offer party trays and naisip ko pa nga mag-order ng lasagna for our Christmas or New Year potluck kaso hassle lang sa pagkuha ng order baka matraffic pa si hubby and wala din yung area namin sa list ng delivery nila. But I will consider their party trays for other special occasions.

January 17, 2023

Lunch at Ramen Kuroda

There are so many ramen restaurants here in the Philippines but we seldom visit those restaurants because I’m not really into ramen. Rice is life for me so if I am craving for some carbs; rice or potato are my choices. Maybe that is one of the reasons why I never tried any ramen during our visit to Tokyo Japan but I promised myself, if ever I will have a chance to go back to Japan, I will definitely eat ramen. 

Anyway, I am browsing my previous posts and so far I have visited the following restaurants that serve ramen. 


Almost a month ago, we ate at Ramen Kuroda because it is the first restaurant that my husband saw when we went out from Uniqlo-Makati. At the entrance of the restaurant, the staff immediately informed us about the Holifeast promo for PHP780 + Service Charge so doon pa lang sa entrance, kinuha na niya order namin before she ushered us to our table. 

Holifeast 

1. Choose any 2 Signature Ramen 
2. Pick 1 side dish of your choice. Limited only to Chicken Karaage, Spicy Chicken Karaage, Chicken Nanban, and Tonkatsu 
3. Holifeast is completed with 4 pieces of Gyoza and 2 glasses of Iced Tea. 

We chose Shiro Ramen PHP220, Kuro Ramen PHP220, and Tonkatsu PHP270. It was lunchtime so the restaurant was crowded, We were thankful that there was an available table for us because we were both h-angry. 

While waiting for our food, I was reading the trivia about this restaurant, nakasulat siya sa table. From what I’ve read, it is their mission to make real ramen, and hoping it will be part of Filipinos’ everyday lives. The ramen is cooked by their Japanese chef with more than 20 years of experience so we can be sure that it is authentic, homemade, and tasty. This restaurant has so many branches na pala, masyado ko nahuli sa pagtry. Hehehe! 

Gyoza PHP130 was served in less than 10 minutes and after that, one by one, they served the remaining orders. There is a small paper checklist on our table where they cross out the list once served. 





While waiting for our bill, I also checked their menu; they also offer set meals, rice dishes, and even kid’s meals. Looking at the price, it is budget-friendly compared sa ibang nakainan namin na ramen restaurants. I computed the food that we ate, sulit din yung promo na PHP780. Overall, we were satisfied with the taste of the food and the fast service. 

January 16, 2023

No Brand; A Korean Grocery Store

No Brand is a Korean grocery store that started in year 2015 and it has over 200 branches in Korea. It opened its first store in the Philippines, way back on November 22, 2019 but since I live in the province, deadma lang ako sa news. Hehehe! I can buy Korean stuff in grocery and other Korean stores in our place.


But a few weeks ago, we went to Alabang Town Center and I saw No Brand store so I checked it. The branch here is not that big, sharing some pictures of the stuff that you can buy. 










I did not buy a lot kasi kakagrocery lang din namin pero nabudol ako ng tea spoon and tea fork kahit marami naman ako ganito sa bahay. Kakaiba yung shape nung tea spoon kasi and mas mahaba yung handle, dinamay ko na yung tea fork para may kapartner. hehehe!





I also bought wipes, frying batter mix, and No Brand Potato Chip Original. Okay yung potato chips and mas mura compared sa Pringles. If ever may makita ko ulit na No Brand Store, I will buy the must-try food like Purple Sweet Potato Chip, Chocolate Chips, and other Korean snacks.

January 12, 2023

Our Holistay at The Sanctuary Batulao

We did not plan anything for our Christmas Break because we have so many “things to do” that we put off since we were so busy for the past ber months. But after our Christmas celebration, we decided to welcome 2023 in other places but obviously, it was too late for us to plan. Most of the resorts that my husband checked were already fully booked. Good thing, my husband is still on vacation and my son has no face-to-face class yet, so we were able to have a staycation after the holiday. 

Last year, we were in Acuaverde Beach Resort so for a change, gusto namin sa cold places. Baguio is out of the option because it is too far and yung Tagaytay naman, lagi na kami doon. Upon searching, my husband discovered “The Sanctuary Batulao” which is just located in Nasugbu, Batangas so malapit and it is situated in a high place so malamig. 


Unfortunately, it was fully booked on our preferred date but fortunately, dahil nagchange kami ng date, naavail namin yung New Year Promo (January 1-31, 2023) which is 40% off. Monday to Thurs, holidays and breakfast are not included. 

The Sanctuary Batulao has 5 different villas which cater to couples, families, and big groups. Since we are a family of three, our options are Bahay Kubo and Bunker Room; we chose the Bahay Kubo because we prefer the location and it is much cheaper. The regular rate is PHP5,000 for two persons but because of the promo, we got it for PHP3,000 + VAT. Additional person is PHP1,000 + VAT, inclusive of extra bed and free breakfast. 


My husband booked on their website but in order to confirm the reservation we need to pay the full amount within 48 hours after we received the pending booking confirmation via email. My husband paid the reservation via online bank transfer and sent the screenshot. It will take 1 to 2 business days daw to confirm. Based on our experience, matagal sila magconfirm ng payment. 

Sat: husband booked on their website 
Sun: paid and sent the proof of payment via email. 
Tues: we received a reminder that we need to pay, even though we already paid. 
Wed: we received our booking confirmation 

Staycation at The Sanctuary Batulao 

Since we live in the South Luzon area, Nasugbu, Batangas is not that far so we don’t need to leave early. We left before 12NN after eating our lunch and we arrived before 1:30PM. There is a PHP1,500 incidental fee that we need to pay upon check-in and they only accept cash so make sure you have enough cash for your stay. Checking in is easy but check-in time is still 2:30PM so we need to wait. While waiting, we explored the place and we just received a call informing us that our room is ready.


This is the Bahay Kubo. It has its own parking space and we have one Queen Bed, Toilet and Bath, Desk and Fridge. Since we are a group of 3 people, we requested for extra bed and towel. Sanctuary Batulao is not a resort so don’t forget to bring your own toiletries. They only provide towels and tissue rolls. 



Bringing food is allowed but limited to snacks and desserts so for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we ate at their restaurant. You can pre-book your meals so by the time you go to the restaurant, iseserve na lang nila yung meals niyo. Sharing some of the foods that we ate during our three days staycation. 



For breakfast, here are the options: Tapa, Hotdog, Daing na Bangus, Cornbeef and Garlic Longganisa for PHP238. This includes egg, rice, and coffee or hot chocolate. Favorite namin yung Tapa, kakaiba version nila Roast Beef. 



For lunch and dinner, we ordered Garlic Butter Tanigue PHP360, Grilled Liempo PHP420, Nilagang Baka PHP480, Soy Garlic Chicken Wings PHP385, Pinakbet PHP265, Lechon Kawali PHP540, Leche Flan PHP250, Cup of Rice PHP40, Soda PHP50 and Juice PHP60. favorite namin yung Garlic Butter Tanigue, Lechon Kawali and Grilled Liempo. 






We enjoyed our food trip here, so kahit isa lang ang restaurant nila, hindi ka magugutom kasi marami dishes and masarap din. Medyo late lang start ng breakfast, 7:30AM and my son’s online classes start at 7AM so hindi siya makababa ng restaurant. I’m thankful na inallow naman nila dalhin namin yung breakfast meal ng anak ko sa room. We just returned the plate and utensils after. 


There is nothing much to do in Sanctuary Batulao so if you are looking for activities, this place is not for you. There is only a swimming pool and ATV for rent, we were not able to experience ATV kasi not safe, dahil maulan during our stay. In addition, there is no television and no wifi but if you want to disconnect, I can recommend this place. Sabi nga nila, “Being offline is a new luxury”. 



Hmmm, I guess it is a sign of aging na rin because despite that we did not do anything during our stay dahil maulan, we still enjoyed our holistay. All we wanted was to eat, relax and rest before we go back to reality. 

“A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it". - Robert Orben 

Notes: 
*Even though there is no wifi, okay naman ang data signal so my son was able to attend online classes. 
*Be careful sa swimming pool, slippery talaga. 
*Downside ng Bahay Kubo, rinig mo talaga yung raindrops sa bubong. 
*Good customer service din. Since maulan, the staff even went to our kubo to give us an umbrella so we can go to the restaurant.
*Upon check-out, they will check your room first before they will return the PHP1,500. 


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