Saturday, August 20, 2016

First Fever :(

The first week of August was a heartbreaking one for our family. :( It was the very first time that our little Lia had a fever, and it wasn't just any fever.  It was pneumonia.

Our baby has always been happy and healthy, and we're actually grateful that this only happened now that she's already 16 months old, other babies get sick even younger.  After some vaccinations, her pedia would even tell us that she might get a fever afterwards, but she never did.  It's only now, and it must be one heck of a virus because it was able to put our strong Lia down.  Hmp!

Those little fingers!
Blood had to extracted so we could get it tested. :(
Left: At her pedia's clinic while waiting for the blood test results.
Right: Our unusually unhappy and feverish baby at home. :(

Thank God the blood test showed no alarming results, so Lia didn't have to be admitted in the hospital.  We went home with lots of medicines prescribed by the doctor.  We're grateful that the high fever lasted for only about 3 days, and in no time, my baby was back in the pink again!  Yaay! Here she is dancing to the tune of Worth It, her favorite dance as of late.  Hehe. =D


Friday, August 19, 2016

Rolly and Joyce in Saigon

If I had a list of countries I never would have thought I'd find myself in on my birthday, one would be Vietnam. Nothing against it, really, but I prefer traveling to places with lots of exciting spots to visit and colorful sights to see (e.g. adventure parks, city lights).  Based on the stories I've heard, Vietnam is just so much like the Philippines except that it's very rich in military history, with war relics and artifacts wherever you go.  Well, I am not a history buff but my husband is, big time.  He's been asking me if we could visit this country someday and I always said NO, until I started planning for my 31st birthday.  I relented, because ultimately, what will make my husband happy will make me happy, too. ;)

So off we flew to the largest city in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City, formerly named and still also referred to as Saigon. :)
Our home in Saigon: Alagon Central Hotel & Spa at District 1, HCMC.
The location is great, it's very near Ben Thanh market, Reunification Palace,
Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office and Museum.

We arrived in Saigon at 12:20am on July 2 and departed at 01:30am on July 04, which means we were there for two full days. It can't be more than that because we can't have our little baby waiting for us for too long.  

Day 1

War Remnants Museum.  A war museum that contains exhibits about the Vietnam War, but also includes many relics relating to the first Indochina War involving the French colonialists. I'd describe this museum as heart-wrenching, as it gives visitors a view of the 'dirty' warfare of the Americans, and the atrocities they committed against the Vietnamese.  I think the stories told in this museum are pretty one-sided, but it's still a must-see. Not for the faint-hearted though.

Entrance Fee: 15k dong each
Inside the compound where US Army vehicles are displayed as trophies by the victorious Vietnamese army
Helicopters had a lot of uses during the war: to transport wounded soldiers and attack enemies
The saddest part of the museum :(
The awful effects of "Agent Orange" used by the U.S. military as part of its
herbicidal warfare program, Operation Ranch Hand, during the Vietnam War.

Reunification Palace.  Walking distance from the War Remnants Museum is the Independence Palace designed by architect Ngô Viết Thụ. This was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was the site of the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates.
Entrance fee: 30k dong each
The facade of the palace. I really gotta be at the foreground, hehe. =P

Lunch at Mon Hue, a Vietnamese fast food restaurant at Ben Than.  We were supposed to check out Ben Than market, but we got hungry after minutes of walking, so we ended up eating instead. The food here is affordable, like everything else in Vietnam.  We ate barbecue pork rolled in steamed rice paper, rice noodles with marinated char-grilled pork, and fried and steamed cakes. (*BURP*)

After lunch was Rolly's most awaited part of the trip, the reason why he wanted to visit Vietnam in the first place... 

Cu Chi Tunnels, an immense network of connecting underground tunnels, used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces.

We booked our Cu Chi Tour in our hotel for 540k VND each. The package was for a group of 9 people max, and it included a coach service, a tour guide, and entrance fees to the tunnels.

The entrance fee itself is only 90k dong per person.

Below, Rolly's squeezing himself in one of the openings of the tunnels. This small entrance (and exit) is unrecognizable especially when it's covered with leaves, making it ideal for ambushing enemy soldiers during the war.

Another entry to the tunnel, this one is enlarged and upgraded
so that it's easier for tourists to pass through.  The real thing is much smaller!
And another entry! :)

Cu Chi also has a shooting range where you can fire a variety of weapons used during the war.  Rolly picked AK47, the weapon of choice among North Vietnamese soldiers because of its durability and reliability.  He was on a high as he was firing!  Ten rounds of ammunition cost 450k VND.

The village of Ben Dinh, the place where the Cu Chi tunnels we visited are, was about an hour and a half away from the city. We arrived back in the city center at around 7pm already.  We only had dinner then it was time for bed. :)

Day 2

It's my birthday already! Woohoo! :) Unlike the previous day when everything was about history, the schedule on July 3 was to visit the must-see spots in the city.

Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon. Located in the downtown of HCMC, this cathedral was established by French colonists between 1863 and 1880.

The imposing facade of the Cathedral
We were super blessed to arrive in the church right before the English mass schedule at 09:30am. I was so happy because it was my first time to attend mass in another country, and it's so fitting that it happened on my birthday! Hooray! :)

Inside the cathedral :)

Right across the cathedral is Ho Chi Minh's Central Post Office, another French structure designed by Auguste Henri Vildieu and Alfred Foulhoux, but is often erroneously credited as being the work of Gustave Eiffel.

The facade of the Post Office
Interior of the Post Office
These phone booths are interesting! :)

As we continued to walk our way through the streets of Saigon, we found a charming French-inspired restaurant - Cafe de la Poste.  It was where I had my "birthday cake." Hehe.

That's my birthday cake sans a candle - matcha mousse! :)

Our next stops were the Saigon Opera House, Ho Chi Minh City Hall, and Ho Chi Min City Museum.  Nothing much to see in these places, really, but since we're already there, might as well take some snaps. :)

Saigon Opera House
Ho Chi Minh City Hall
Ho Chi Minh City Museum

Up next was a very, very heavy lunch at Quan an Ngon 160, a popular Saigon restaurant. We were so full, every single dish was delicious! :)

Everything's healthy and yummy! :)

Our activity in the afternoon was watching a water puppet show at the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre.  The show depicted the culture and traditions of Vietnamese life through puppets acting on a stage of full of water.  It was accompanied by live music played on authentic Vietnamese instruments.

Before the show started :)

The puppet show was about 45 minutes long, and although it was purely in Vietnamese, it wasn't hard to understand because what the "acting" of the puppets conveyed was pretty obvious.  It was a good show, overall. :)

By nighttime, Rolly and I treated our tired legs to a one-hour massage at the Yuri Spa. :)

And because it's my birthday, we didn't let the trip pass without having a nice dinner! :) It was special because we had dinner on board the La Perle de l’ Orient cruise ship, a beautiful wooden yacht on Saigon river.  The ship was built in 2009 and is 35m length, 8m width and has 3 decks capable of carrying up to 200 guests. 

La Perle de l' Orient
The birthday girl was happy :)
There were even musical performances and dances that you could watch while having your meal,
I just wasn't able to take a photo. :)

And that's it!  A roundup of our Ho Chi Minh trip. The hubby's happy, the wifey's happy, so it's all good! :)


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Weekend Playtime

Never underestimate the power of child's play.  According to, play helps a child do the following amazing things:

  • Develop physical skills. Gross motor skills are developed as a child learns to reach, grasp, crawl, run, climb and balance. Fine motor skills are developed as children handle small toys. 
  • Develop cognitive concepts. Children learn to solve problems (What does this do? Does this puzzle piece fit here?) through play. Children also learn colors, numbers, size, and shapes. They have the ability to enhance their memory skills as well as their attention span. Children move on to higher levels of thought as they play in a more stimulating environment. 
  • Develop language skills. Language develops as a child plays and interacts with others. This begins with parents playing cooing games with their children and advances to practical levels such as telling make-believe stories and jokes. 
  • Develop social skills. Learning to cooperate, negotiate, take turns and play by the rules are all important skills learned in early games. These skills grow as the child plays. As a result, children learn the roles and rules of society. 

And because Rolly and I realize that, and we, too, would love to have some out-of-home playtime with our baby despite the bed weather, we went out yesterday and found ourselves at Tom's World in SM Southmall where there's a large play area for kiddos.

We knew she loves colorful balls so this was our first stop!
She didn't want to leave! =D
Of course, mommy joined the fun too! :)
Her next stop was where these soft spikes were. :) I think this was her favorite!
with her favorite person in the world - dada! :)
Lia still can't navigate this yellow bridge (left) so we just took a photo of dad before we headed down. :)
Lia rode the little car and she fell. :( Guess it's safer to play with balls.
This time, she's in a bigger 'car' with mommy, so it's all safe. :)
Our last stop! Lia's frustrated because she couldn't ride these hanging bulbs yet. When you're older, baby. :)
Happy baby! :)

And that sums up our weekend playtime! :) It was only for an hour at Tom's World, so we just continued at home. There are no giant play items in the house, but Lia enjoyed daddy's dancing and mommy's singing, hehe. :)


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