Cattle Depot Artist Village, To Kwa Wan, Hong Kong

One weekend I got spontaneous and hopped on the North Point / Kowloon City ferry. The pier is actually in To Kwa Wan and as I was making my way over to Kowloon City for some food, I stopped by the Cattle Depot Artist Village.

As I said, this was super spontaneous. I was in my hobo clothes with no makeup since I thought I was only going for a quick lunch but ended up across the harbor, AND that’s why my face is not in the video.

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Vietnam Tourist Visa – 2018

District 2, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

So, since I posted about my trip to Vietnam, I’ve had a few people ask me about applying for a tourist visa to Vietnam.

Firstly, you can apply for a visa online which gives you an approval letter to get your actual visa upon arrival, or you can visit the Vietnamese embassy in your city.

We’re talking about applying online here.

I ran a few google searches to look up a list of countries that have visa exemption into Vietnam, but if I scroll to the bottom to the page, all of the website I clicked into says that it isn’t the official Vietnam government or embassy website. They’re mostly agencies that help you with applying for a visa approval letter.

I clicked around a little more and basically came to the conclusion that one site isn’t going to differ hugely from another. I used VietnamVisa.org. As of 2018, the fees range from US$12 to US$150 for a 1-year multiple entry visa (this option is only available for American passport holders).

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Things To Do in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

 

I spent a long weekend in this city without much planned, but managed to stumble across some pretty cool places. Here’s what I got up to, and things to do in Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon):

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ChinChin Bar, Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam

Apothecary speakeasy, ChinChin cocktail bar in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

On the last night of my weekend trip to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, I was walking around District 1, close to the Bitexco Tower looking for a place to have some local dinner. It was one of those nights where you’ve run out of things to do, and you’re still full from the previous meal, but you’re also too tired to keep walking around, so dinner it is.

For no particular reason, I looked up and saw this logo that says “Chin Chin” on the side of a narrow building. Frankly, it reminded me of a fusion bar & restaurant called “Fang Fang” in Lan Kwai Fong in Hong Kong. Its oriental look and dark windows have me convinced it’s a pretentious bar I can afford (because we’re in Vietnam), which was perfect because it really was too early for dinner.

We crossed the street and checked out the menu. Turns out, it’s a three-story building with two bars and two restaurants in it, probably from the same group. We headed up to ChinChin which was a tad fancier than I thought it would be. Thanks to language barriers, we were invited into the bar even though the staff was still on their break. No problem, they’re super nice and hopped up: the music came on, the lights dimmed a little, and the place came to life even though our small party was the only customers there. The menu came and man, was I confused. First, I was sitting in front of one out of two windows in the whole place, where the only light streaming in was from a huge bubble tea sign from across the street. Defeated, I got my phone out for the flashlight, and after confirming with another human being, I came to accept that what turned out to be a very strong and over-the-top cocktail was indeed only less than US$4 during happy hour.

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Brand New YouTube Channel – RachiePn

Grrrreat news!

I’ve finally gotten around to starting my YouTube channel “RachiePn”! We’ve got 3 amazing segments going:

Head on over to the channel and subscribe now, and remember to leave a comment to let me know what you’d like to see!

Melbourne Brunch Spots: Hash Specialty Coffee

Depending on whether you follow my Instagram (it’s @RachiePn by the way), you may or may not know that I snuck off to one of my favorite places about a month ago to Melbourne, Australia.

It was a very short but fulfilling trip. Even my flight there was amazing: 777-300ER, PEY bulkhead with only one other person on my row, four seats away, thank you very much.

Although my instinct says “meat pies and beers” when I think of Australia, the whole Melbourne brunch craze took too much effort to say no to. Since I dropped in on Melbourne while everyone had work or class (as in lessons, not the classy kind of class, I got some of that too), I managed to spend some good old me time while I was there.

My friends and cousins threw a bunch of names at me like “Hardware Societe”, but basically told me to go down to Hardware Lane and just do whatever the fuck I felt like doing. I checked Hardware Societe but there was a huge line and what’s more awkward than eating alone? Queuing alone to… eat alone.

So I went across the road and checked out White Mojo, but decided to give it a miss since they didn’t have much on their savoury menu that I fancied. Just a door or two down was Hash Specialty Coffee & Roasters. Short line, black decor, chorizo & scallops on the menu, it was definitely my scene.

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Apart from having to sit on a tall stool, it was freaking awesome. The very hipster-looking staff actually made me feel comfortable, even after explaining that both still and sparkling water was free and comes from a tap straight into a beaker. I ordered the mentioned chorizo & scallops and a cold brew coffee for myself.

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Old Hong Kong: Tai O Fishing Village

Catch a glimpse of the old fishing village with traditional stilt houses on the Western Side of Lantau Island, Hong Kong.

Before Hong Kong became a global financial hub, Tai O was famous fishing village which was well-loved for culture, seafood snacks and stilt-houses. Separated by a small river, Tai O is a quaint village situated North-Weste of Lantau Island, and reachable by a 50-minute bus ride from Tung Chung MTR.

Tai O is a rustic village is built on stilts over the water, decorated with salty fish and famous for its shrimp paste and all kinds of Chinese seafood products. It has plenty to keep you busy, especially if you love photography. Venture towards the river and you will find the best angle to capture this village from.

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Nara, Japan

Nara is only about 40 minutes away from Osaka by train, and is definitely worth the trip.

Famous for their free-roaming deers, Nara Park is only about 10 minutes walk from the station. It is a straight shot and you know you’ve made it when you see the stalls selling deer crackers.

Nara Park is a very peaceful spot: grass, open air, and gentle deers; only ruined by annoying tourists just like myself. For some reason the deers bow so that you would give them the crackers, which I found a bit unsettling. While some say they were trained, I prefer to think that they’re just following the crackers in the humans’ hands as they bow. The deers are mostly very gentle, but they can get pretty aggressive, or impatient with people taking so long with the food. Two of them went for the crackers in my hand at the same time, and one even bit Jon’s coat to get him to hurry up.

On a nicer day, it would have been great to stroll through the park and maybe even have a picnic (not sure how doable that is with all the deers around, maybe it’s not even allowed), but with the rain getting heavier, we happily agreed to visit the nearby sake brewery to stay warm.

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Kaiyukan – Osaka Aquarium

Growing up in Hong Kong means that when I travel, aquariums rarely make it onto my to-do list. We have Ocean Park and we take these things for granted.

As a “been there done that” kind of traveler who sees a sight and does not know what to do with it, being in Osaka posed a small problem for us. We just did not quite know what to occupy ourselves with after each meal. We did some shopping, hit the arcades, visited the nearby Kyoto and Nara, and mostly spent our evenings at bars. On the last day of our trip in Osaka, we caved and headed out to Osaka-ko to see us some fishies.

Having spent a few days in the city, it was refreshing to go out there and be in the open space where we were greeted by the first snow… that we’ve seen in years. It was a strange moment of euphoria. I was so cold for so many days that I really felt I should at least see some snow; and snow I saw.

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MahaNaga / Gypsy Spell Bar – Bangkok

It has been a while since I last travelled for work, and it definitely reminded me of the good old crew life.

In Bangkok I stayed in Sukhumvit, a very international part of the city. So international in fact, that I actually struggled to find Thai food. Everything in the area seemed to be Japanese. I was told later that there are a lot of Japanese expats in Bangkok, and my office was also in the Japanese Village.

On my first night in Bangkok, I had to walk around a little and brave my way down the streets leading off the main road to find some Thai food (as my husband Jon text to assure me I’ll be able to find something while in Thailand). When I saw a small stand on the street corner saying “Modern Thai Cuisine”, I went for it. It didn’t really matter whether it was modern or traditional, as long as it wasn’t Japanese.

mahanaga

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