Category Archives: travels

Swiss Spring

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“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it.” (Psalm 24:1)

Because I’m currently frying in Manila, I thought it would be fun to post some photos from somewhere cold 😀

March to May is the season of Spring in Switzerland, but the temperature can still dip to 0 degree Celsius and light snow still falls occasionally in certain parts such as in the village of Ovronnaz, known for its ski resorts and thermal baths.

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Beautiful, no?

While I’m at it, let me just put in here my favorite sights from the French side of Switzerland (I did not have time or resources to go check out the German side):

From Ovronnaz and other parts of Valais:

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Mountaintop restaurant
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A vineyard right up the side of the mountain
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A typical chalet, and tulips that seem just to grow like grass here

All around Lake Geneve:

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Chillion Castle near Montreux
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Calendar-worthy, yes?

Here’s Freddie Mercury in Montreux, where he was said to have found peace and recorded his last album:

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And here’s Charlie Chaplin in Vevey, his final home:

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With a Nestle facility at the back

Scenes from a couple of parks:

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See that giant fork at the far right? 🙂
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Flowers, art and Lake Geneve

And sights from around Geneva:

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The Broken Chair, right in front of the United Nations office.
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“Originally conceived with the aim of urging nations to ban anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions, Broken Chair is a continuing symbol of the desperate cry of war-torn civilian populations.”
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Jet d’Eau (Water Jet), the city’s most famous landmark, during the day…
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…and at night
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Reformation Wall, with the main proponents of Calvinism: William Farel, John Calvin, Theodore Beza, and John Knox. The monument, located in the grounds of the University of Geneva, honors key figures and documents of the Protestant Reformation.

Here’s Geneva on a Saturday morning. Just too crowded! 😀

I learned that most people leave the city on Friday night to spend the weekend on trips around the country or in other EU destinations. The border to France, for instance, is a mere hour away.

And this one’s for the books: a place where Philippine National Hero Jose Rizal once stayed. Absolutely awesome.

I was also able to visit the annual Morges Tulip Festival, where more than 150,000 bulbs showered the grounds of Parc de l’Indépendance on the shores of Lake Geneva. Here’s just a sample of the visual feast:

The garden looks out into Geneva Lake, and this is the view from the edge:

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My quick peek into this country (This was a work trip so I had less than 2 free days in total!) was such a gift, as it allowed me to see some of God’s glorious works in nature. It was also refreshing to see so much efficiency in how things are run. And the discipline of the people — I was in awe upon learning that offensive driving is the norm here, as people are expected and trusted to abide strictly by the law. Nobody slows down at sharp curves or hesitates at a corner when they have right-of-way. If you do, you get honked at by the drivers behind you. How unbelievable is that?

Oh, and have I mentioned all the cheese? Definitely a Swiss highlight!

I leave you with this teeny bit of snow, just to cool you down a little 🙂

How to Make the Most of Two Days in Ho Chi Minh City

WARNING: This post is
specifically inclined to appeal to coffee lovers.

I have two words to describe Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC):

CAFES. MOTORBIKES.

Or, as I told a friend, my version of Heaven and Hell on earth.

Being the kind of person that starts panicking when there are only two remaining bags of coffee beans in the pantry, I was deliriously happy to discover the cafe culture of HCMC. I found it mind-boggling that there’s a cafe on practically every single block across the entire metropolis. When you see a block without one, you can be certain that the next block will have two or three.

Take a look at these photos of about a quarter of the cafes I passed just walking along a couple of streets:

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Trung Nguyen Legend, known to be the Starbucks of Vietnam (albeit with better coffee)

 

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Another popular chain
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Two cafes side by side, and a Dairy Queen, right beside a park. What else can you ask for?
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This pretty one’s right beside the historic Post Office.
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A fine-looking house converted into a fine-looking cafe, also right across a park.
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This cafe-cum-pub is a few meters away from the famous Ben Thanh Market.
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Cafe with a view

Other random cafe shots:

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Oh wait, where was I? I was supposed to give a guide to making the most of a two-day stay in Ho Chi Minh City. Sorry I got carried away with the photos; coffee does that to me.

Anyway, if you are in fact a coffee lover, you can definitely spend an entire day (and night) just exploring the cafes of the city. There are literally dozens upon dozens of them, mostly small, independent ones, some in obscure alleys. Depending on your taste (steaming hot coffee while quietly reading a book? coffee in a garden? a curio feel? coffee in a party zone?), you may do an online search in advance for specific cafes to visit. Or, you can just let the wind (and local word-of-mouth) take you on a cafe adventure once you get there.

The rest of the Ho Chi Minh City sights can be covered in a day. If you want to go the mainstream tourist-y route, make sure to include the following in your itinerary:

  • Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica
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Ooops, I only got a photo from the back 😦
  • Central Post Office
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This guy was actually the highlight of my Post Office visit 😀
  • Ben Thanh Market – For the shopaholics! I got my coffee beans here for $2/100 grams. It closes as 6 P.M., but that just means the stores become mobile and are transferred right outside the market building, where a night market then springs up!

You’re also sure to enjoy the food. Vietnam, after all, is known for heavenly pho (noodles), seafood and street delicacies. So go and explore, taste and see to your heart’s content.

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Mmm, mmm, Street Food Market. But first: How to get to the other side? Them motorbikes are out to kill ya! 😀

Note that you can get around and see all the above on foot. And, if your soles get tired, you can always so easily head over to the park, or the nearest cafe!

 

Tourin’ Snoozin’

The hubby and I are on Day 2 of our 3-day Bangkok holiday, and it has so far been a pretty cheery, light-hearted, uber-relaxed vacation. Sleeping in, strolling and street food experimenting, sitting at a quiet restaurant with the most savory dishes I have had, bar none…what else can one ask for?

Oh, and this whole trip was a present, by the way. What a bonus this is that you’ve blessed us with, Lord!

We go on a half-day city tour today. This is my fourth time in Bangkok but this is actually the first time I’m here with no official business to attend to, so I am eager for the time to do the touristy stuff. Will be posting photos later.

For now, here’s some of the stuff we’ve been enjoying. My apologies for the half-finished plates/bowls 😛

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Tom Yum Soup, Chicken Salad and Pad Thai.
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Sausages and Mussels

Mmm, mmm!!!

Addendum:

Here are some photos I took from the few hours of touring today (aaaand now we’re back to sleeping in):

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A monk and his smartphone
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Banking at the temple premises

 

Buddha images

 

The marble temple, with intricate, handmade details

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One of the countless tributes to Thailand’s beloved King, who recently passed away