Singapore 2021 Day 3/4 – Jacuzzi again, kids’ club, VR experience, Bingo game and fireworks and Home Sweet Home

It was another night of waking up but far less as all were tired from the lack of sleep. When we woke up, the sun was already high above the horizon and it was already 8. Getting out wasn’t too difficult and it a matter of time, we were at the Dining Room upper level having Chinese Dim Sum for breakfast. Again everything came in a set and while there was a variety of food to choose from, it really didn’t taste good. 

Dim Sum breakfast

Then we went over to the Kid’s club one more time to try our luck for the morning session, thinking that maybe it would be less popular so early in the day but we were wrong. It was again fully booked. We were offered to put in our names for a 11am session but at 45mins playtime so we just entered K’s name after he took a tour around and said he was interested to play in there.

Since we didn’t have any other activities planned, and we had a jacuzzi slot at the Zouk beach bar, we just changed into our swim wear and went for it. Retrieved the towels at the counter at the beach bar, we were thrilled to find the only 2 jacuzzi there and we had one to ourselves. It had an awesome view of the sea, a not too good view to the screen but I guessed having a dip there was still enjoyable (thankfully it wasn’t super hot yet). Mommy just enjoyed the sea breeze on the chairs by the deck, sheltered from the sun.

We returned to the Kid’s club at on time (and mommy returned to the room since only K and I can enter) and once we got in, we got our hands on the WII Nintendo consoles and were racing with another kid on the Mario Kart. 45mins zoomed by pretty quickly and we couldn’t even complete the second cup before the staff got us all packing.

Mommy was waiting for us at the entrance and we proceeded to the Lido to queue for lunch. There was a rather fast moving queue and soon we got ourselves a table too. K got himself some fries and table, I was having pizza and salad and mommy her Chinese dishes. At this point, I was not going to go for quantity as I felt pretty bloated from all the meals on the ship, although most were complimentary. After some fruits and ice cream of course, we went to the VR experience lab to enjoy a promotion that was happening.

My choice for lunch… because I was still feeling full…

At 1pm, there was a 40bucks for unlimited play promotion which we thought was quite worth it since most of the games there was 15bucks per play. So we got 1 for myself and 1 for K and we went to tried the various games available. I had to try the racing simulator which I sucked at, the roller coaster and a zombie game that got me a little dizzy. K was having a blast with his fruit zombie, roller coaster and Star Wars.

With the promo, one gets to wear the tag to identify who can play unlimited in that 1hr.

After the shenanigans at the VR lab, we went back to Level 6 and sat in front of the big screen for some coffee and popcorn, and this time, there was another game about guessing the logo. Though we weren’t in the game, it was quite fun trying to guess too.

This game was about guessing the logo by flipping one of the squares to reveal what’t under!

Then we tested our luck with Bingo, and didn’t win anything, for 3 sets of numbers for 30 bucks. More time and money spent at the arcade and the Monopoly game that we suddenly found so fun to play with tickets more easily to be won and then we exchanged 2 really cheap gifts from the tickets. Then we spent some time in front of the giant screen for the 3rd time to watch Croods 2. We didn’t complete the show as we had to go eat dinner which we had at the nearby “food court” equivalent but price wise “restaurant equivalent” just a floor up.

Ordered chicken rice and curry chicken with Prata and although the price was higher than back home, the food was delicious! It took some time for the food to come after delivery but it was worth the wait.

Then we had to go to the fireworks that was booked for at 815pm but the registration started at 745pm. The lifts were all worky as they locked the lifts to prevent access of people to level 17. We had to climb the stairs to our room quickly and then go up a few more floors to check in. Again we saw that there were guests who were trying their luck to enter despite not being able to make a booking. I also empathise with them as they may not have been that tech savvy and even aware of the booking requirements and had to settle for last resort and wait for guests for do not turn up so that they have a chance. I thought this would be something that maybe the cruise can see how it can be done to make it more inclusive.

We were brought to the decks and maintaining social distancing from the other groups, the dispatch was done slowly but effectively. And they set up ropes to split the groups so that we were really 1m apart from each other. I think in this aspect they did really well. After set up was completed, the laser show started. first with the light show moving to the tune of hits from Michael Jackson, and then another one which reminded us of the one we saw the day before. Then the finale was the fireworks after a countdown by the host. The fireworks were thankfully close to where we stood and we probably had one of the best view, and one sight that I have not seen for probably longer than I thought I would. Not too fancy but its still good.

After the event, the dispatch was again in place to maintain orderly return of the guests and before long, we were back in the room. Packed the bags and take our final bathtub bath before preparing for bed. After K went to dreamland, I moved my luggage and placed it outside our doors for collection, scheduled for 10pm-2am collection and went out to enjoy the chilly breeze at the corridor, jotting down the memories for the last few days. 

Day 4

The last day of cruise and I found myself awake with the sun already up above the horizon. To have enjoyed sunrise at the side of where we were facing was such a blessing though I could have got up earlier to see it. Nonetheless, it was cloudy and that provided still a nice view together with the islands as the ship headed back towards Singapore.

After the standard procedure of getting ready in the morning, we headed to the buffet breakfast only to find a long queue at the entrance and it wasn’t moving! As the restaurant was going to close in an hour’s time at 9am, I went to the Dining Room to find that there weren’t any queues there and called my family to join me since they were still queuing.

With quite a standard breakfast selection, we had more than enough with 2 sets of the meal itself which in my opinion was not bad. We returned to the room to wait for disembarkation according to the instructions provided by the ship the day before. This was of course to prevent overcrowded with controlled release of the guests. Since we were at one of the top floors at level 13, it wasn’t long after the 15 floor was cleared that it was our turn to disembark. The staff would knock on our doors and inform us to get ready to leave, in which we would exit the ship at level 7.

Then it was through the gangway, a few check outs/ins and going through immigrations, picking up our luggage that was all lined up for collection and going through security. After that, we can proceed to the carpark to pick up our car which parked there. There was a payment package for 4D3N cruise for $45 and this can be purchased at the automated machine on 2nd level next to the lift of the carpark. The only trouble is there is no way to drive to the pick up point from within the carpark itself – the pick up point can only be accessed when entering the carpark.

And that familiar view meant that we are back in Singapore

While this isn’t the best kind of travel for me, this would still be the only way to escape from Singapore for a getaway without the need to go into quarantine. As my family has done the Royal Caribbean cruise before, the opinion is that there was a much better experience on that cruise compared to this. While a lot of the poorer experience was a result of a combination of more of the experiences requiring more payment, an app that was not as user friendly, staff being more rude, less activities available to participate and mediocre food, I think this is in exchange for a more budget friendly trip, a room with a bathtub and a boat with more kids friendly facilities. Also with the knowledge that a large percentage of the guests on the cruise would be families with kids since it was the school holiday, it can then be expected that the free facilities catered for the kids will be always crowded. We were fortunate enough to get the booked activities for the entire trip with the exception of the kids’ club, we have seen older folks who wanted to see the fireworks but couldn’t as they didn’t have access to the app and didn’t know how to book and had to queue and wait for slots for those who didn’t turn up. In that aspect, the cruise may need to do better.

Singapore 2021 Day 2 – Pool and waterpark, ship activities, magic show and laser show

It wasn’t a really restful night as K as woken up a couple of times, probably not used to sleeping on his own and on a sofa bed. That also meant that I had to get up a couple of times with him as well.

However, for whatever reason, I got up at 7 and checking the direction of our balcony, I am thrilled to know that we were facing the East direction. K was also awoken at the same time, which was great considering we had to get to breakfast early today. While everyone else got prepared, simultaneously I also got to enjoy the sunrise out at the horizon, a little cloudy but I will take it.

Sunrise view from our balcony

We left for the breakfast at the main buffet restaurant known as the Lido and was given at table at the entrance pretty quickly. It wasn’t really busy probably because people on cruise don’t wake up that early. There was quite a variety of food and I was pretty impressed by the presence of eggs benedict! The food variety were standard choices from an international selection, though the quality of food wasn’t fantastic. The staff did a good job serving the buffet tho since I didn’t see long lines of disgruntled customers.

We finished our breakfast rather quickly and returned to the room to get into our swim gear for swimming! Since we already gotten a 1 hr slot at the main pool and the jacuzzi at 9am, we were going to enjoy it. Arrived and we lined up to check in and retrieve the towels. We managed to get a sun bench and left our things there. Mommy and K proceeded straight to the hot tub jacuzzi and I tried the main pool. The water was quite cold though that didn’t stop the swimmers from going in! The size of the pool was actually quite pathetic comparing to a standard size pool (but what do you expect?) made worse by the surrounding ankle deep pool perimeter and the depth of the pool was slightly more than 1m deep. K came in to the main pool to do a bit of the kicking but found it too cold to continue and prefer to stay at the jacuzzi. While we had booked the jacuzzi, it meant that we had the full usage of it for the entire 1hr for 2 persons (that meant 1 of us have to stay outside) and this was strictly controlled by the staff there. At times when we left the jacuzzi, other people would use but we wouldn’t mind as long as it was returned when we wanted to use. 

The jacuzzi at the foreground and the main pool is at the back

We didn’t stay the entire 1hr and after 30mins, K wanted to go to the waterpark. We stood outside the waterpark, second in line and found that the waterpark was not opened to the public yet and only so at 10am. Probably the kids from the Palace was getting priority usage as we saw people playing inside. While we lamented the “unfairness” in this (as some of the guests there have discussed with us), it would have been better to made it clear upfront. As we stood in the sun waiting in line, mommy and I entertained ourselves with some morning aerobics that was being taught on stage by a trainer, except K who wasn’t having any of that and was getting annoyed with waiting. It’s the school holidays and apparently all the kids were onboard.

I went to the booking station to try and get another slot for the next day leaving mommy and K to continue in line because ultimately, the waterpark has to have one adult to accompany one kid. The line at the booking station was long as usual, and when its time for me to book, I was informed that all slots for swimming and jacuzzi was already filled except a jacuzzi slot at 10-11am at the Zouk Beach bar – I took it.

Returning to the waterpark, i found mommy and K already inside and doing a few rounds of slides while the line outside continued to form. Since my time was already up for the pool or the jacuzzi, I could only watch from outside. The sun was blazing hot, so hot that I am no longer wet from the pool but already starting to sweat! K didn’t stay too long, and they were soon out as the staff prompted mommy and K to leave to allow others in line to use the waterpark. Upon exit, mommy and K went to queue for another slide, but this queue was faster since it was only a slide and it was guaranteed to move as people complete their slide. 2 rounds of that and we returned back to the room for a quick shower.

The faster moving slide though there is a queue too!

Spent some time on the room playing Nintendo Switch (which somehow I failed to connect to the TV) and then we left for lunch. We choose the Dining Room (upper room this time) serving Chinese for our lunch place and was served the set soon after settling down. I may be still feeling a little bloated from the morning breakfast but the food quality here was also a little lacklustre though portions were definitely enough for the 3 of us. 

To help us digest, we took a walk around the cruise ship to explore. We first made a booking for dinner at the Umi Uma Japanese restaurant but was advised that all the slots for Teppanyaki and their Korean cuisine promotion fully was taken for the same day and the next day. We could still have their ala carte, but as much as it was disappointing, we made a reservation. 

There was a luxury shopping spot with mostly watches and some leather products and jewellery from some high end brands but nothing caught our fancy (or rather, we can’t really afford them). 

Shopping options of mostly luxury items like watches and bags

We wanted to go to the afternoon session of the kid’s club that begin at 2pm, and knowing how high in demand the kid’s club was, we went at 130pm and found the queue formed already. And the space have all been taken up! (only 15 children per time of 2 hrs session). What were we thinking, we were up against Singaporeans, professional queuers! With nothing much to do, we went to the drink bar at the reception level 6 and ordered a cake and some coffee and watch a game show that was being hosted by the staff. It was about guessing the name of the Korean band that was showed onscreen and the winner with the most correct guesses would get some prize. Later, as they started to sell popcorn, we also got ourselves a small bucket for 3bucks which we brought back to the room eventually.

A queue in front of the Kid’s club

The rest of the afternoon was spent teaching K some maths times table, a bit of TV (K had a sudden liking for Boonie Bears) while I took a quick shut eye followed by UNO card game. In an instance, we were just 10mins from the Magic show that we booked for the 545pm slot and we quickly rushed to the Zodiac theatre to check in.

Queuing up to enter the Zodiac theatre for the magic show

The 45mins show was in a pretty huge theatre but due to safe distancing, it was only at most half filled. The show consisted a mix of juggling and mostly magic and interactions with the audience was down so differently, each step was managed with quite an emphasis on sanitisation. The tricks were pretty good I think though I was expecting something more wowing, as the ones that were shown were more the “how did he know that” type. 

K got himself a magic trick box set and some light sticks for 18bucks and we returned to the room to dress up for our dinner at the specialty Japanese restaurant of Umi Uma. Ordered the udon for K, a California hand roll and sushi for myself (still full from the constant eating) and Salmon for mommy, and we were satisfied at the end of the delicious meal.

Sun hanging low

After dinner, we went to level 6 again to walk around and this time, to the small games arcade there to play a couple of games to try win some tickets. We managed to get more tickets on one of the ball machines with a stroke of luck! Then we went on to explore the top deck of the ship since Mommy haven’t seen the Zouk Beach club that had an open air cinema. We also visited the Palm court that was supposedly a bar with a view and then we stayed on at the level 18 to view the laser show at 9pm, which we didn’t realise that it was still available for viewing and that it didn’t require prior booking!

That was the last of the activity before returning to the room and preparing for bed. Played with a couple of the magic tricks from the box set we got earlier before going to bed.

Singapore 2021 Day 1 – Pre-embarkation Covid tests, check in and exploring the ship

It has been more than a year since we got out of Singapore for a holiday (due to the pandemic) and during the March 1-week school holidays, we were presented with one opportunity where we could once more utilise our passport! A cruise on Dream Cruises! To where? Nowhere!

On cruise day, we arrived pretty 30 mins earlier than our actual check in time. I happened to know a friend who shared his experience onboard about programs being booked up as early as within 2 hours of embarkation and that got us a little worried. So immediately after K’s Sunday’s lesson, we went to get lunch before driving to the cruise center directly.

Entering the carpark, there were staff controlling the entry of vehicles at the multi-storey parking and probably only allowing cruise guests to park. After showing her our e-tickets, we drove to the 3rd storey where there were some spaces left, to park our car there.

Got out our luggages and proceeded down the ramp to the 2nd storey and thats when everything seemed a little chaotic. Many staff were on the ground helping guests move around and one asked if we wanted to check in our luggage or take the Covid test? I didn’t know the exact sequence and so I asked, which first?  To which he advised it would be better to check in the bulky luggage before going for the Rapid Antigen test.

I took the luggage to the counters to the right and checked in my luggage together with the proof of my e-ticket, a process that was rather quick since there weren’t any queues when I was there, although I had to do it myself while the rest of my family stand back, to prevent overcrowding, and there was also quite a stringent control of personnel going to the queue.

Dropping of the luggage

I receive the luggage tag in return and joined my family at the queue to go to the 3rd level for our Covid test, accessible by lift. It was actually quite a long wait since there were only 2 lifts and the lifts were serving lots of people from everywhere. And people who paid more for the stay at the Palace had priority and could jump straight to the front. But I guessed we could afford the wait.

Sign to the Covid test

After finally getting to board the lift up to the 3rd floor, we checked in with our tracetngether app (and K with his token) and proceeded to sit at a spot to fill up a pre departure survey. We actually had printed the hardcopy of the survey but was informed that it was updated and we had to do it online, via a QR code. Not too difficult, just requiring last name, birthdate and ticket number.

The receipt after the survey

Then we queued to get dispatched to the testing stations which was short one too and soon we ended up at one of the nearest station. K had previously done the PCR test in his previous cruise and was scared and so mommy and I went ahead first. The test was using a flexible swab to poke into the nostrils which I thought was pretty quick and not too uncomfortable and it was done in a matter of seconds. After that, we then proceeded to the waiting results waiting rest station that was segregated by colors and indicated by the color of the stickers pasted on our passport.

The results took about 15mins (as we waited, we checked the hardcopy itinerary that was given to us before entering the waiting area) and with the firm negatives (as expected), we then walked back to the lift to go to the check in on the 2nd floor. Since all these activities took quite some time in total, I guessed we made a good choice to have lunch first! The only thing I thought i should have done as well was to go to the toilet before all this. Another check out/in with tracetogether (different places and therefore different check in) before proceeding through the security checks. After the checks, we went to the counters to get our room cards before going to the 3rd floor, another waiting area to wait for boarding.

There were people but weren’t overcrowded, we made ourselves comfortable, while people were being dispatched to board. As the announcements were made, I realised that they were calling out to people in groups and suspected the group were by embarkation time. Ours is actually at 345pm, and we were 1.5hrs early! I thought then it was useless to go so early since we had to wait anyway.

K read his comics and had a packet of snacks before we went to the toilet. After we returned, we found mommy rushing us to go as we could already board the ship! We quickened our pace and were last in line at the immigrations. K went with me as he was yet to be able to go thru the automated gates but we got stuck there as somehow it took a little while for the computer to complete the biometric scan on me, and worst off for K, who couldn’t get it to work. We ended up escorted to the office where K tried again and didn’t work and had to use his thumbprints instead.

Mommy was already waiting outside when we were done. Continuing thru, there were more tracetogether check out/in before hitting the gangway and finally onboard, welcomed by the cruise staff. Scanned our room cards (out of the many times to scan as we found out) before moving to the lifts up one level. Exiting the lift, another staff scan our card again before diverting us to another lift where we could go to our room, finally!

Entering our deluxe room, I found it rather small but as expected on a ship. There was small balcony but at least the toilet came with a bathtub! We quickly got into the App and was trying to figure out how to book stuff. After fussing around, we found that we couldn’t even book a single thing that we had to go find out from the staff!

We proceeded to the 6th floor main reception and checked with the counter staff who taught us how. The only thing bookable were the shows at the Zodiac theatre and we could just book it by accessing the Entertainment section. We tried and found that all slots from the next and following day was unbookable and thought that they were fully booked! We were rather angry that we couldn’t watch this magic show despite being proactive in trying to book it.

Then we went up to the pool and again there was another set of rules. There will only be one booking per day per room and we could choose to book either for today or tomorrow. So we thought we would use the chance to book today for a more confirm slot tomorrow! There was already a queue booking for spaces at the pool and while waiting, I tried booking the magic show and to my surprise, it worked! Mommy was in disbelief and tried booking an earlier slot and got it too! Maybe the booking was opened yet but still, the app was still bad as we couldn’t cancel the one that we didn’t want. While mommy lined up to book the pool, I brought K to explore the other places.

On the 17th floor, we walked over to where the activities place was and found that the activities there were all first come first serve basis. For table tennis and mini golf, we just had to help ourselves with the balls and bats/clubs, so if it runs out, you gotta wait. There were obstacle courses and a wall climb, meant for people 1.4m height and above and so for K who’s shorter, he could play the smaller obstacle course which entertained him a bit. There were also basketball court and football fields, that require booking but since we weren’t interested, we didn’t enquire further or check them out. We were looking forward to the mini golf tho but as it was just a long stretch fake grass with a couple of holes along the way with no start point, it was disappointing.

This was the mini golf. Unlike the real ones with starting positions, this didn’t have.

There was also a giant chess set there which I found it pointless since I can’t play. 

We walked over to VR experience lab, which was like a big place that had all the 3D/4D games but all of these costs money. There was the usual shooter simulator but K didn’t want to do that as it was a little scary. There was a roller coaster simulator but mommy didn’t want to do that as it was a little expensive for 15bucks per person for about a minute and a half of play. In the end, we spent 4bucks for a Star Wars shooter game and another 4bucks for a fruit ninja game, which i found it rather cool.

This was the VR experience lab

We returned to the room for a rest and K finished up his homework from the earlier class. As our luggage have not arrived, we couldn’t bath so we went to have dinner first. At the Dream Dining room, we choose the western meals today. Ordered a Seabass and Chicken with salad and calamari rings and K had kids meal. It was not too bad, considering that there’s no need to pay for it. Since we were there before 6, there weren’t many people as well.

After dinner, we went to the tiny arcade to play the games there. There weren’t many games for K to play tho he tried one Mario vs Sonic olympics and another fish catching game. It was rather expensive as one play is 4bucks! Expectedly, we didn’t spend much time there.

Returned back to the room and it was TV time. There was a safety briefing over the PA and before long, we were leaving the port for the international sea. K enjoyed his bathtub and some more TV before I turned the sofa bed into his own bed. We spent the rest of the night on Wifi, 25bucks each day for 3 days, for 2 devices before turning to bed.

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Escape Cruise to Nowhere 2021

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Cruise to Nowhere:

Total duration 4D3N

Embarkation at 2pm on 14th Mar and disembarkation at 930am on the 17th Mar

Day 1 – Pre-embarkation Covid tests, check in and exploring the ship
Day 2 – Pool and waterpark, ship activities, magic show and laser show
Day 3 – Jacuzzi again, kids’ club, VR experience, Bingo game and fireworks 
Day 4 – Breakfast and disembarkation

It was the school holidays and for the first time in years we didn’t have a place to escape to. Having had a nice experience cruising to Nowhere on another ship (in December, without me), we decided to give Genting Cruises a try, and at the same time, get out of the country even if it meant to nowhere.

Budget nature: Costly if including paying activities

On top of the room charges that were paid upfront, the ship has quite a few facilities that require paying these don’t come cheap. The arcades were minimum SGD3 per game play and those games don’t last long, the VR experiences are SGD15 per game play. This is literally Genting resort on a ship, in SGD tho. There are 3 restaurants offering complimentary food and a few snack corners but also paying specialty restaurants that have much better quality food, and these are not cheap. Bingo games are $30 for 3 tickets.

Complexity: Manageable

Due to the ongoing pandemic, administration plus Covid tests takes quite a awful amount of check out and check in. Though these interruptions are not going to take up too much time, when you have your tracetogether app on, it does become quite annoying to just tap the cards and show the check in. The Covid Rapid Antigen test was quite fast to be honest, but then the queuing and waiting for the test and waiting for the result will take almost an hour at best to complete.

Using the Dream Cruise app was hassle as it was not clear which activities need to be booked through the app and which not. We only found out after enquiring through the reception and also finding out why some shows couldn’t be booked.

Ho Chi Minh 2019 Day 9 – Home Sweet Home

On the first day of 2020, I woke up disappointed to find the sun already up so early in the morning. Nonetheless I took a few photos of the late sunrise and then forced myself to get changed and go for a run.

Sunrise from the room

Had googled a running route and as encouraging as I saw that there was one safe enough to run ( didn’t want to get knocked down by the motorcycles or breath in the exhaust from them), I was unable to do so smoothly. Once I exited the hotel and crossed the road to the riverside promenade, I headed in the north side direction in the hope of reaching a park. But after running some 600m, the route ended and to continue I had to cross the road and run in the street which I thought was a bad idea. Made a complete U turn and ran south which was not too bad as there was a nice pathway all the way for 2km. The pathway was littered though due to yesterday’s night countdown and there were a few people lying on benches but nothing unusual.

Rubbish strewn on the street


Ship restaurant


Bitexco Financial Tower that reminded me of Stark Towers


Running along the river view

Completed my run with some stops along the way for photos and returned to the hotel. Went to the club house to get some bottled water before a visit to the swimming pool which was at the roof top together with the sky bar and spa.

The swimming pool was rather small but the surrounding sitting area provided a paranomic view of the surrounding. Took in the view and the fresh air and panoramic photos before returning to the room.

Sky bar and pool


Rooftop pool


Panoramic view from the pool


Gym near the pool

Had my bath and went back to bed since both mommy and K was still sleeping. Mommy was awoke soon and we were concerned that the breakfast time was going to be over so I went down first (we had the option of going to the clubhouse for breakfast but knowing that the area was much smaller, we would rather go to the main restaurant which would have more variety). The staff was excellent and they had no issues for me taking out food so that I can bring it back to the room. However I was given quite a small packaging so I couldn’t back take a lot of food, which made me decide to just pack those that K liked and later have my breakfast in the restaurant itself.

Packed breakfast


Buffet line


My plate


Egg benedict


Restaurant with excellent food and service

Went back to the room to tell mommy the plan and I returned quickly to the restaurant. They gave me a seat and acknowledged that mommy would be coming later. Then I ordered an egg Benedict which would be delivered to my table, went around to get samples of the buffet and gobbled down quickly. Though I missed the enjoyment of tasting the food, at least it filled my stomach and honestly, I thought the quality was pretty good. Returned to the room with my bottle of tomato juice and mommy went down for her breakfast.

It wasn’t long that K also woke up and then he would have his breakfast in bed while I fed him, talked about enjoying breakfast in bed! After that, I called to request for late check out and was given 1pm and we spent the rest of the morning packing and enjoying the last bit of TV and comforts of the room before bringing down all our luggage to the left luggage.

Room view of the right in the day


Left view

We returned to the Vincom center again as we saw some brands of clothes that were having a sale the night before and wanted to see if we could get anything. We visited the Old Navy store and got something as well as from OVS store. Left at 215pm and ended up at a Trung Nguyen Legend Cafe, one famous coffee brand of Vietnam and bought some 3-in-1 coffee for home and drank their Legend coffee in the cafe, which was going at 170k per glass. The coffee was indeed very good, and so was the air conditioning that we enjoyed as we escaped the midday heat outside!

Church seen along the way


Inside Trung Nguyen Legend Cafe


The Legend is drip coffee of course!
This is where you can find Trung Nguyen Legend Cafe.
The Map thanks to Wanderlog, a road trip planner on iOS and Android

We returned back to the hotel to retrieve our luggage and booked a Grabcar to the airport for 137k+10k (not sure what the 10k was for) which arrived very quickly. The journey to the airport was so much faster than the time we took from the airport to the hotel as they weren’t any jams during that time. We arrived with plenty of time to check in for our flight at 555pm.

Ho Chi Minh City Airport


Inside the airport

Went through immigrations which took a short while to clear and proceeded to go to Big Bowl for our last Vietnamese meal (about USD14 for fresh spring roll and big bowl of pho) before returning back to Singapore and a ice cream sundae from BK just next to it (as K was asking for ice cream).

Big Bowl Vietnamese fast food


Pho and spring rolls

Window shopped around for a bit, used the toilet and then waited at the gate before the call to board.

We were on the Scoot flight back to Singapore and the plane was late coming into Vietnam. Once onboard there weren’t much biggies. Our pre-ordered food arrived and we swapped to suit to K’s taste. The food package was simple and tasted ok, not fantastic. Then later K spent the rest of the journey on the iPad. We landed 10mins delayed into Changi, a big part was due to the initial delay.

Scoot meal


Sunset view arriving into Singapore

This year end trip planned for NYE celebration overseas in Vietnam was pretty enjoyable, largely because we had most of the land tour and private transfer being arranged by a tour agency (Went with Sparrow Travels, the same team that arranged for our Hanoi trip) for a hassle free journey. The weather was pretty decent most days and the costs were not very expensive. Because of the guides, for the visits especially to the old towns and ruins, we had learnt quite a bit on their history and culture which we would never have if we had gone by ourselves. But because the tours were private, we had more flexibility on timing and not under time pressure to push on, which would be a problem given K would have a hard time keeping up or I would need to carry him around more often then as it is.

Ho Chi Minh City 2019 Day 8 – Bai Dai Beach and transfer to Ho Chi Minh NYE 2020

Day 8 was supposed to be our last day in Phu Quoc before our onward journey to the last destination of the trip, Ho Chi Minh City! It was the also the last day of 2019 and we thought that HCMC should be the best place to countdown.

We woke up with enough time for breakfast and this time, there wasn’t a queue and our faces were registered pretty quickly. We tried to get a seat and this time we were closer to the buffet table. But the egg station is still serving invisible hard boiled egg. I managed to get my omelette though.


After breakfast, we were on our way back to the room and met a balloon artist in a clown costume. K asked for a red sword which he made promptly but he’s had the capability to come out with more intricate designs like a 2 coloured water gun that he made for another kid. While waiting, I asked for an extension of check out to 130pm which was also when the shuttle was arranged for us to the airport.

Clown making shape balloons

We spent some time in the room getting ready and playing with K’s toys for a bit before K and I went to the beach leaving mommy in the room. It was quite a distance from our tower and K was already complaining about walking so long and wanting me to carry him. We got our towels from the pool counter and walked along the pathway that separated the Vinoasis resort and the Radisson Blu.

The beach was pretty crowded with all the seats under the shelter taken. So I just found myself a tree and placed our bags and towels there before getting onto the super soft but hot sand of Bai Dai beach! The beach was quite wide and a distance to the decently calm waters where K could enjoy the wave crashing into him. We busied ourselves with playing sand, myself trying to build a sandcastle and K just scooping and dumping sand inside the water, simple joys. The clouds were helpful in shielding off the hot sun most of the time and it was great fun. But when the sun came out, we could see through the clear water and sometimes caught sight of a few tiny fishes.

Panoramic view of Bai Dai beach

Lots of loungers on white stretch of sand

Calm waters suitable for swimming

Can you spot the fish?

A nice day to beach

We returned to the room close to 1230pm and quickly ate some food for lunch that mommy had ordered for room service. Then we hurried to check out at 130pm. Check out was no fuss but waiting for the shuttle was a blur, but I’m kinda used to the chaos and the relaxed pace already. We were told to just stand around and wait and when the big bus came, we figured that’s the bus and asked again before we loaded up the bus.

Room service

Once onboard we slept all the way to the airport arriving at 230pm. We unloaded the luggage and proceeded to check in at Jetstar pacific for 405pm flight to HCMC. Went through to the departure area and went window shopping for a bit at the multiple stalls selling different products. Saw a few Kipling bags that looked very suspicious. Then we proceeded to have our small lunch at Star Cafe, having just a sandwich and 2 coffees for 193k.

Phu Quoc domestic airport

At the departure terminal

Star Cafe for lunch (inside)

A short wait at the gate before we boarded the small plane and it was just a short hour trip before we arrived into HCMC for the final leg of the trip.

View landing into Ho Chi Minh City

Upon arrival, we picked up the luggage and was stopped for the random luggage checks (we sort of have this thing of getting stopped at these checks). After exit, we booked a Grabcar to our hotel for 88k ( no one picked up my request but mommy got a match quickly) and it took almost an hour to reach our hotel, the Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon, after negotiating the heavy traffic to district 1, made worse by the fact that it was New Year’s eve and revellers were all heading to popular pedestrian street of Nguyen Hue in district 1 for the countdown.

Ho Chi Minh City Airport

Pillar A-11 was one of the pick up place for Grab

We paid 100k for the ride and the bell took over our luggage. The check in was smooth and quick and we were happy that we were given the 2nd highest floor which would boost a good view of the river and the New Year fireworks! I had to confirm a couple of times to ensure that our room had also the view of the fireworks and was assured so. Thankfully the room was booked really early with a bet that the fireworks would be at the river and it paid off! In terms of costs, I didn’t think there was anywhere else that cost less for a room with a window view of the fireworks so it was definitely a good value!

The room had a really good view of the river and we were really glad! Because the room also came with club benefits, we proceeded to the 18th level to get some food.

Room view



Left view from our window

Looking straight

Right view

When we arrived, we were shocked to find it extremely crowded, and I supposed it’s because of the view, which fortunately for us, we have the same view in our room. We initially wanted to go back to the room to consume our takeaways from the club and the staff actually agreed and even suggested to help us bring the food there (very impressive service)! However, one couple left and let us have the table and so we stayed.

There was quite a bit of variety but because we were not there early, the cakes were not being replenished so we took the leftovers. This was probably why the food didn’t taste fantastic.

Looking down from the corridor

At the clubhouse

Food from the clubhouse

The window seat had a good river view

We left the hotel to walk the streets and enjoy the festivities that’s going on. A walk thru the Nguyen Hue walking street, we saw the concert stage with the lights flashing and music booming. We walked away from the stage towards government building (People’s committee of Ho Chi Minh) at the other end and saw many people making their way or just sitting around waiting for the countdown to happen. The atmosphere was electric!

Crowded walking street

Large LED screen for the countdown

Concert stage all the way to the front

Many people there already

Beautiful lighted display

Beautiful lotus fountain seen along the way

Street with lotsa lights!

We made our way to Vincom center and entered that building with so many floors of shopping. We wanted to go to Funnyland check out if there were more affordable toys and using their free wifi, we could find these stores on the B2 with other similar children related stores. There weren’t any differences with what we saw in Da Nang and so we didn’t get anything. There was also a big Lock N Lock store here as well.

Vincom center mall

Another mall, Parkson mall just beside

Kid’s store level

Went down one level to B3 and settled for some Japanese Ramen at Hachiban Ramen for dinner, as K was missing his ramen fix. Spent about 160k for a bowl of ramen, fried rice and apple juice. We ate till the mall was closed and had to climb up the escalators to the main entrance to exit the building.

Inside Hachiban Ramen

Fried Rice


Returned back the same way we came and this time, the walking street was getting more crowded than earlier on. We had to exit one of the street to a parallel street to continue, if not we would have been stuck in the crowd.

Back in the hotel, we spent the time on some play time and bath (unlike the previous rooms, this bath tub was a little small). And then it was time for the countdown.

Turned off the lights in the room to reduce the reflection from the windows and then we were treated to not one but 2 views of fireworks going off at 2 different places! The entire duration of the fireworks was about 15mins and we enjoyed the view in the comfort of our room. The street below us was full of people and we were glad we weren’t there!

Left view fireworks

Right view fireworks

Massive jam on the streets

After that it was lights out for the night, our first morning of 2020 in HCMC.

Phu Quoc 2019 Day 7 – Vinpearl Land and Waterpark

Woke up late since it was a day of fun at the water park which we got unlimited entry because of our stay at the the resort. But the slow pace of life continued from the day before.

There were 2 restaurants for breakfast and we were directed to the second one, not sure why. After reaching the start of the queue, we were supposed to scan our faces for entry but nothing was detected. Of course, as it wasn’t set up because during the night before, we were supposed to do it and now we realized why we were told to go to the concierge after check in (and we realized that was what was mumbled to us about). Anyhow they took our room numbers and we went in.

The area was in a mess, like a food war zone with many tables either taken or not cleaned up. One of the staff directed us to one table and she herself starting to clean up the table. The restaurant seemed severely understaffed. We settle K down and started to go to the buffet line.

Like many buffets before, this one had quite a variety and like many Vietnamese ones, there were options with pretty heavy, meaty stuff and rice. What was interesting here was that there was a kids station where the tables are shorter in height, designed for kids to go pick up their own food. It was an interesting concept, only thing that it was not that workable since I didn’t see any kids doing that.

However the pace at which the clean plates and bowls were being replenished was slow. I had to wait a while to get bowls so as to get K some yoghurt. And the hard boiled eggs tray had invisible eggs cos I never saw them. I couldn’t get omelette from the egg station and didn’t know the reason cos I couldn’t understand what the staff said, so I settled for scrambled eggs. K was disappointed without hard boiled eggs and didn’t like the scrambled ones.

Plate full of food for breakfast

Buffet line

Returned to the room to get dressed and brought along the water gun we bought in Da Nang and his safety vest and then we proceeded to the reception to get our photos taken and tagged to the individual room cards.

Along the way, we stopped by the kids club to check the place out. There were quite a number of children in there already. Most of the stuff in there looked more for kids in pre-kindergarten and K loved to play with those stuff meant for younger kids so he spent some time there and at the ball pool before we managed to get him out and continued our journey to the water park.

Kids club on the inside, lots of space.

The tickets of the water park were tagged to the room cards and so we only needed to provide the cards for access into the park. Inside the small water park (by area), it did have quite a few options of fun. While mommy settled herself under shelter at the cafe, we went onto the lazy river, which in my opinion wasn’t lazy, the water was moving pretty quickly! So fast that some kids actually found themselves being washed away (it’s not deep so it’s ok). It felt nice sitting on a float as we went around pretty quickly.

Swimming pool of the resort

Water Park entrance

Lazy river going into the cave.

We then went over to the wave pool which generated waves at certain periods (but I don’t know what’s the schedule as it seemed pretty random) and enjoyed some play time there. There was the usual play structure for children but K was afraid of the water splashes from the overhead big bucket and didn’t want to go there. He only tried twice on kiddy slides and then he was back at the wave pool.

Waves in the wave pool

For the adults there were bigger slides, I got on one with a mat (as K wanted me to go try and he watched) and it was pretty nice and decently fast. We couldn’t do the rest since those were for bigger boys but we can see that not all the slides were operational since there weren’t a lot of people.

Sliding down this with a mat is fun

High speed slide for bigger boys

Big tubes available too.

We stopped for lunch and found that the only eating place was that cafe but it only served western food and had lots of people. We exited the park to go to the beach only to find a beach bar. In the end, we decided to go to Vinpearl land for lunch instead.

We walked back to Tower A where the pick up can be arranged and took the buggy there after it arrived (which was full as many people also had the intention to visit the theme park). It was a quick ride there taking only a couple of minutes. Went to the ticketing counter and was informed that there were no discounts for guests staying at Vinoasis but the only freebie was that guests who buy their tickets at the hotel itself would get unlimited entries whereas if we got the tickets from the counter itself, there was a dinner buffet from 5pm to 730pm. We didn’t have much of a choice and got the tickets for 1.4M (500k for adults and 400k for child).

To our dismay, we couldn’t find any other restaurant with sit in options other than Lotteria. Found ourselves seated with quite a crowd there and mommy went to purchase food while K and I waited and spent some time on phone games. And it was quite a long wait! The supposedly fast food only arrived after about 20mins of waiting.

Looked pretty empty for a theme park

There’s more food in the castle in the middle

Water park inside the theme park that we skipped

Once done with lunch, we went on to look for rides (we missed the mermaid show and shark feeding show that happened during our lunch time and we decided to skip the water park there since most of the rides there were for heights 1.2M and above and K only already been to the water park within the resort) and got onto some of the rides like dizzy teacups and bumper cars (which was one of the popular ride) and later went into the much appreciated shelter (as it was freaking sunny) of the arcade zone. This was where we spent the most time (again), going from machines to machines to try out the different games, like what we did in Ba Na hills, even though the area here was not as big. There was a mini pirate ship but no one was operating it. K had a go at the indoor playground but there was no routes that led to the slides – the slides were more like a display.

Tree display

Some castle looking buildings

Round about bee ride

Arcade building

Indoor playground

Arcade machines with the pirate ship

Fake slides

After much persuasion (for K to leave), we managed to proceed to the aquarium. The aquarium was not very big but still there were some nice marine life to see, like one with a huge blue coloured fish with the huge moray eel, a baby shark tank with open surface and a long glass tunnel where we saw a stingray slapped against the wall. But compared to the time we spent at the arcade, we simply breezed thru.

Inside the aquarium

Water feature within the aquarium

Many tortoises

Baby sharks

Cylindrical tank

Moray eel with blue fish


Shows that we missed

Walked to the ferries wheel and there was a small queue for it. The wheel was going pretty slowly ( much like the pace of the entire island).  While at the top, we were treated to a nice view of the surrounding in sunset hue. But soon after, we were down to the ground and it was over.

View from the ferries wheel

Went to the free dinner buffet which was close to the entrance of the musical fountain show and it was there that we saw most of the crowd (whereas the park wasn’t having a lot of people most of the time)! We got ourselves a table quickly and went to get the food from the buffet line which didn’t look good. Ate whatever we could eat (and worse off for K being a super choosy eater) for our dinner and proceeded to the fountain show to sit in.

Night view of the castle

Xmas tree lighted up

Other buildings also lighted up

Dinner place

Our dinner

Within the restaurant

K was looking extremely tired from not having enough sleep so we decided to skip the musical fountain show, thinking that we have seen enough fountain shows to know which were the good ones and which not. Also, coupled with the fact that after the show, there might not be enough transportation back, we decided to return. We boarded the buggy as soon as it arrived and we were back to the room, after getting ourselves some scopes of (paid but delicious!) ice cream from the stall near the bar for 55k each cup.

Doesn’t that tag look awfully familiar?

Musical fountain entrance

Quite a big seating area

We spent the night watching YouTube videos of the fountain show and were gutted to find out that we were wrong! The fountain show looked really impressive but it was too bad that we made the choice to return to the room earlier. Spent the remainder of the night with K with his Beyblades and bath time before going to bed.

Delicious ice cream

Room service for supper with fried rice and rice rolls

Phu Quoc 2019 Day 6 – My Khe Beach and transfer to Phu Quoc

Our last day in Da Nang and with nothing planned, we slept in late but woke up just in time to allow us to have breakfast at the buffet.

After breakfast, went up to the 23rd floor to check out the kids club as K was interested to see what’s there. Spent a couple of minutes there as he tried the kiddy slides and small ball pool and a tiny fussball table that he played with other kids. Then we managed to get him to leave for the beach.


My Khe beach was just across the road as we made our way there. This was supposedly one of the best beach in the world with long stretches of white sand going as far as the eyes can see. We spent some time playing at the beach making sand shapes and volcano but the weather wasn’t good, with moments of rain mists and a very cloudy view. The waves were extremely choppy removing the possibility of any water play at all.

My Khe beach in bad weather

The other side of the beach

Promenade along the beach

After the visit, we returned to the room to check out at 1230pm, after successfully requesting for late check out after our breakfast. We booked a Grabcar for 34k that brought us to a shopping more called Vincom Plaza. This was a decent sized mall and a couple of stores selling kids stuff on the 3rd floor. We went into one and bought some Beyblades toys which we thought was pretty cheap deal (5 starter beyblades, 1 booster and 1 launcher for 899k dong and the arena for 445k dong). Maybe it’s because it was made in Vietnam and these were older season ones.

Xmas tree at Vincom Plaza

On the inside of the mall

The fourth floor had all the food restaurants which was weirdly most BBQ or hotpot related food but we found one Caracoli coffee that had Vietnamese meals of pho and sandwich. Paid 250k for lunch and we went to the ground floor for some window shopping and a visit to Starbucks before getting onto another Grab back to the hotel for 30k. Our driver to the airport was already waiting for us and as I quickly packed the luggage with the stuff that we bought, while mommy and K made their last visits to toilets before we were on our 30mins trip to the airport.

Ice skating rink at the top most floor

The restaurants take most of the 4th floor

Caracoli restaurant



We alighted at the international airport but found that it was the wrong one, so we went back to the ground floor and walked the 5 mins to the domestic terminal before checking in at the Jetstar Pacific counter for our flight to Phu Quoc.

International airport, wrong one!

Directions to the Domestic airport

The domestic airport was quite small, after we got through the checks and did some window shopping, we ended up waiting at the gate. The plane we were taking was small too and we had to take a bus there to board. The bus arrival was very infrequent and we had to wait for quite a while before we could board it to get to the plane. It took a while for us to board the plane and settle in with a line of people doing the same. Soon we were in the air and K was also fast asleep.

Domestic airport

Inside the Domestic airport

Family check-in is good service!

Within the departure gates

The 2 hrs flight was pretty uneventful to say the least, most of the time I spent sleeping, and while seated at the aisle, I missed the sunset outside the window. We landed in Phu Quoc ahead of time.

View arriving into Ho Chi Minh

The luggage came from the belt and we found stickers pasted onto them, with the information that we were winners of some gifts and thought that these might be scams. We brought them thru the to the arrivals (and after a stringent check by one of the airport staff there to ensure we got the right luggage by checking the luggage tags, so luckily we got the sticker luggage tags with me), a staff gave us some gifts in exchange for a photo. The gifts were Vietnamese candies.

Phu Quoc candies

Immediately after the arrivals outside was a Vinpearl counter where we confirm our registration for the shuttle bus to the Vinoasis Phu Quoc Resort. We then realized that as more and more people gathered, we weren’t going to get to the resort quickly. As predicted, things were moving pretty slowly. We only got onboard the bus at 710pm and by 8pm, we arrived at the sprawling resort.

Ho Chi Minh Airport

Vinpearl counter

Went to check in and took a while before we were given our rooms. There were so many people moving around and trying to check in that it felt pretty chaotic. Plus I couldn’t quite catch what the staff was saying so we just proceeded to our rooms.

The room looked luxuriously designed though not big as the previous ones but I wasn’t complaining and was happy to be in the room. We settled down for a bit before we went to the Almaz cuisine and leisure center to check out the place for dinner.

Main bedroom

Shower and toilet

Tub included

Balcony view

The night view of Almaz center looked pretty nice. The retail shops didn’t look fantastic though, mostly retailing goods that we had no interest in. There were quite a few restaurants and we ended up in a Almaz beer club. There were not many patrons inside the bar itself and the staff was playing Vietnamese KTV music inside. The food took a long time to come and it was just frustrating that we had to keep asking for the food. K spent his waiting time with books (amazingly in a bar and waiting patiently). The food was ok though but it was just taking too long. We left the bar at only 1030pm and paid 807k for the dinner.

Almaz center

Large walking space with some retail

Colorful design at night

Almaz beer club

Inside the bar, still quite empty

Fish fillet

Grilled chicken

Potato wedges

We returned to the room walking after exploring the ground floor of the resort for a bit, the place had many Xmas decorations of balloons to take photos with. The night was spent mostly on battles with beyblades and we went to sleep reluctantly at close to 1am.

Xmas trees made of balloons

Gingerbread house deco

Long mall

Train made of balloons

Kids club

Beyblades with the stadium

Da Nang 2019 Day 5 – Ba Na hills and Dragon bridge

After the long day yesterday, it was hard to get out of bed especially for K. We got most of our stuff ready and had to take some time to wake K up and warm him up before bringing him to the buffet breakfast. (Tried asking if we could bring food back to the room but wasn’t able to)

The restaurant was already crowded but there were still tables available. Got ourselves some food from quite a variety, there were just lots of meat and I thought it was rather a heavy breakfast.



Buffet with multiple rows

We were supposed to meet the driver at 830am but we arrived at 850am instead. Couldn’t tell which was the driver and so just waited on the first floor while mommy and K went to the supermarket to get some stuff. The driver whom was already there actually went back to the car to write my name on a paper and then that’s when we met up.

Started our 45mins journey to Ba Na hills and along the way at 5mins before the arrival, the driver let us buy our tickets at one of the shops along the street, probably to avoid the crowd at the actual place. Even though my email communication with the tour agent mentioned the inclusion of the tickets, the driver wasn’t aware so I just bought the tickets to be sure. The tickets costed 750k per adult and 600k per child.

Tickets to Ba Na hills

After alighting, we went to board the bus that brought us to the entrance, seemed like taxis or cars were not allowed to let passengers alight there. There were multiple cable cars up to Ba Na hills and we just carried on walking to find the shortest queues as hordes of tour groups queued at the Hoi An station, supposedly the one that goes to the famed Golden Bridge made viral by social media. Our station was Suoi Mo station where the queue was still long but at least it was moving.

Entrance to Ba Na hills looked like a fortress

Map of the area

Sign to the cable car station

Popular place with a crowd

We got onto a rather large gondola and what we didn’t expect was the time it took to get to the top. It took very long! From the gondola we could see the sprawling green forest below and at a distance there were the other cable cars line running to the top too. Then we began to enter into the fog which made it looked like we were travelling into the clouds.

Huge gondola to bring passengers up

Nice view of a waterfall

Going into the fog

At the top, we could feel the temperature was already lowered and while I was there with short sleeve and chinos, it wasn’t unbearably cold. Once we exited the station, we entered into what looked like French historical architecture, bringing us into imaginary France!

Panoramic view of the French inspired Ba Na hills

We didn’t walk around but went down to the Fantasy Park first. The park consisted of 3 floors of games and play and seemed like a paradise for children. However, after spending some time there, we realized there actually weren’t many rides available. The few of the exciting ones K was too short for it. We took 2 simulation rides which was quite ok, K spent some time at the indoor playground but didn’t quite enjoy it since there weren’t any other kids around and he’s kinda scared being alone (since parents weren’t allowed either). There were some carnival games but we didn’t play those and the rest were dominated by arcade games which we spent the most time at. These games were all free but didn’t generate any tickets (since there were already free) and thus were just demo games for people to try.

Fantasy land

Giant robotic spider display

Thrill ride through 3 floors

Indoor playground

Kiddy rides

Carnival games

Arcade for kids, theres another section for older people

Dragon display above the bumper cars

After we managed to get K to stop playing, we proceeded to get lunch. We went around and ended up at the wax museum which we found required entrance fees and so we only took a few photos with the transformers before heading to the France. Back at the open area, we saw a certain Thai Market and decided to have Thai food for a change. We ordered Phad Thai and fried rice and 2 cups of drinks and sat at the tables available there. The food didn’t taste good. It cost about 300k in total.

Wax Museum

Transformers with ironman for photos

Thai Market

Our lunch

We thought we would get some cheesecake to supplement and went to the Starbucks there. The place was just too crowded and we tried to look for other bakeries and found one bakery that sold cakes. Bought a coconut choco and one caramelised cake and 2 coffees to eat.

Xmas feels

Area near the Starbucks

View from the top

Cakes as deserts

Inside the cafe

On the outside, the one with the red walls

After that, we took a stroll around and as we headed to the back, we realized that there was a pagoda and a viewing deck. Mommy and K didn’t want to go up and so I made my way up quickly to have a look. Took some photos of the pagoda and the area around and went up the bell tower to shoot an aerial view of the town. The bell tower was an automated one with the log being activated by a machine.

Stairways to the viewpoint

More climbing

Temple at the end

Panoramic view of the village and pagoda from the top

We took the cable car from Morin station to Depay station and saw the long queue for the alpine coaster which we skipped (but most likely the best ride there in Ba Na hills judging from the long queue). Upon reaching the station, we proceeded quickly to the funicular so as to bring us to the Golden Bridge quickly.

Cable car to the bottom section


Disembarked and we were lost as there were no signs pointing to the bridge, only to the garden which we didn’t have time to visit. Asked around and finally found the way there but the entire place was so foggy and we couldn’t get a clear photo of the gigantic hands. Went to queue for the cable car to get back to ground level.

Fogged up Golden Bridge

The journey down was long and so was the queue for the cable as everyone seemed to be returning at the same. Again there were just many tour groups of people and the queues became a massive amount of people trying to get to the cable car. Thankfully we didn’t have to squeeze in the cable car and soon, after passing through some time in the fog in the gondola, we arrived at the bottom of the hill.

On the way back, we got some snacks from the food stall (K had his icecream that he had been asking the whole day but because it was cold up there we didn’t agree to it). Got on the transfer bus and alighted back at the location where we were left off and Whatsapp our driver who managed to find us at the bus station.

On the way back, the driver returned the money to us for the tickets after clarifications with the office. K fell asleep during the 45mins back.

Upon arrival at the hotel, K and mommy rested back in the room while I went alone to the top of the hotel (where there was a bar and swimming pool) on the 25th floor to catch a panoramic view of the beach and Da Nang and it was beautiful! We then spent the evening in front of TV and bath time.

Panoramic view of the My Khe beach

Panoramic view to the west

Panoramic view to the south

Before heading out to dinner, I brought K to the top to see the area lighted up. Took another couple of photos before meeting mommy at the lobby.

Night view at the pool

Lighted up Da Nang West


We walked down the street to a small restaurant called the Red Window for dinner. It was ran by a group of locals who also ran the accommodation and the food served was delicious. The humble people didn’t want to charge us the pancake because it looked too ugly but we couldn’t accept that and paid 350k in all including some tips.

Inside Red Window

Coffee with coconut

Carrot juice

Fried noodles with vegetables



Our Grab taxi picked us up and dropped us all at the Dragon bridge for 48k. I mistakenly asked us to be dropped at the tail and had to walk the entire bridge distance back to the head where it’s supposed to spit fire at 9pm (only on weekends and holidays). We joined the crowd which was already gathered near the head to see this spectacle and at 9pm, the traffic to the bridge was stopped and the show began!

There were 2 rounds of fire spitting and 2 rounds of water spray. Since we were closed we could feel slightly the heat of the fire! Luckily we couldn’t feel the water as the wind blew the other direction and drenched the people standing at the other side of the road! We were too close for a good photo and it would been nicer to stand further away near the bank rather than on the bridge.

Fire breathing (too) up close!

Water spraying

After this short but interesting show, we walked back along the road, passing by a super crowded Son Tra night market and stopped near a building to book another Grab back to the hotel. This ride was 25k and the driver took awhile to arrive, having to negotiate the crazy traffic to get to us.

Crowded Son Tra night market

Da Nang street at night

Our night was spent getting ready for bed which wasn’t difficult considering the long day out.

Da Nang 2019 Day 4 – Day trip to Hue

630am and I was already up and trying to get ready early for the long trip to Hue with a return to Da Nang for the night instead of Hoi An.

All packed and ready to go by 730am though K had some trouble waking up. At the breakfast, the entire place was crowded, not like the previous day! Looked like everyone was an early riser even on a holiday! We had our fill and mommy settled the bill for dinner the night before and then we were checked out.


We met up with the female guide “Happy” and she immediately loaded us up in a Mitsubishi Xpander after introduction to the driver Tin and we were on our way to the first destination, about an hour and a half drive away.

First, we arrived at the top of a mountain Hai Van pass where there were some ruins left. This was supposedly at the border of Da Nang and Hue from which we could see both the cities. Took photos with the ruins there and of the surrounding scenery before leaving the crowded place as many huge tour buses stop there for a break and tourists stop for a photo.

Hai Van Pass is very popular

Old map of the area

One of the ruins there

Panoramic view of the surrounding, on the left Da Nang, right Hue.


Then it was another 20mins downhill to Lap An lagoon, with a short stop at Lang Co bay for photo taking. The lagoon was a large area of calm water with the backdrop of mountains; the place looked pretty nice. There was a certain seafood smell that K didn’t like but it was because the area was also used as place for oyster farming. The farmers used tyres for oysters to attach themselves which was interesting. We didn’t have any though even though it was cheap since we didn’t stop long and were on our way to old town Hue.

Lang Co bay view

Panoramic view of the calm lagoon

Props for the IG moments

A swing must be there of course!

Tire used for growing abalone

An hour and a half of drive plus lotsa made up games I came up with on the fly to keep K entertained, we finally arrived at the one the tomb for worst emperor of Vietnam (at least that’s what the guide said), Khai Dinh, but the tomb itself was the most elaborately designed. The Royal Tomb of Khai Dinh, or Ứng Mausoleum, wasn’t the biggest and it was a quick walk around the beautiful tomb while listening to the historical stories before we boarded the car for the next destination.

The views while on the way to the next destination

Audio guides available at the tomb

Long flight of stairs up

Panoramic view of the tomb

Intricate carvings

Dragons lined the sides of stairs

Main alter which was designed with multiple colours

The inner chamber where the tomb was supposed to be (but wasn’t there)

Table that was used by the emperor

An imperial stamp used by the emperor

Nice view of the surrounding

Statue of a buddha on the hill can be seen

Just a short 10mins drive and we arrived at the Tomb of Minh Mang which the guide advised as one of the best emperors of Vietnam. The tomb was huge and much bigger than the previous one, though not as intricately designed. The arrangements with lakes and buildings made it looked like shape of a human, according to the guide. We walked along and fed some fish for 5k dong and K was happy. On our walk back, there was a slight drizzle but we managed to avoid getting drenched.

Tomb in a park

Gate of the huge compound

Stele house

Ponds at the sides of the walkway

Dai Hong gate closed to the outside

Hien Duc gate to the next section

Door way to the Pavilon

The same doorway

Minh Lau Pavilon

Feeding the fishes was fun

Another doorway to the tomb

Stairway up to the resting place

Panoramic view of the compound

The car brought us to the lunch location at Life Bar restaurant near to old Hue Citadel and we were given the set lunch. I was busy replying email and trying to sort out some internet banking with their free wifi, the food was only ok though the portions were quite big. After lunch and using the restrooms, we proceeded with the last 2 locations of our tour.

Life bar restaurant

Noodle soup

Hue Pancake

Mixed Vegetables

Grilled chicken



Advocado shake

Fruits platter

First it was the Hue Citadel, which reminded me of the Forbidden City in Beijing. However it wasn’t as huge as that and a lot of the buildings were already destroyed. We did spend quite a good deal of time there looking at some of the old photos of those emperors and listening to the historical stories narrated by the guide. There was a nice garden near the end and it was quite nice to walk through. We exited the gate which was built with the same design like Khai Dinh tomb and boarded our car to the final destination.

Cannon display

Gate at the wall around the Hue Citadel

Ky Dai flagpole

Meridian Gate into the citadel

Panoramic view of the compound

Entrance to another section of the huge citadel

Long corridor with photos and information on the walls

Recently renovated building

Thai Binh Pavillon, constructed by Khai Dinh Emperor

The pillars with the same design materials as his tomb.

Inside the Pavillon

Thieu Phuong Gardens

Old walls near the gardens but still colourful

Panoramic view of Co Ha Gardens

Leaving the citadel

Colourful Hien Nhon gate

The Thien Mu pagoda was the last stop for our tour in Hue. It was actually a monastery for most part of this location but there were still things to see as like the story about the monk who burnt himself up in protest and there was the car on display that he used to drive himself to the protest location. We were also told of the monks schedule which included waking up really early at 330 and only getting to bed at 930, talk about tough life.

Thien Mu Pagoda

Stele on giant turtle

Gate towards the monastery

Gardens within the compound

The car that was driven by the monk who set himself on fire

Bonsai plants at the compound

Left through a very old gate

Then the tour ended as we dropped off the tour guide who stayed in Hue and the driver drove 2hours plus back to Da Nang for us to check in at Sala Da Nang beach hotel.

View of the railroad running through Hue

We were given quite a beautiful room with a balcony but it was again on the 4th floor. There wasn’t much of a view and they were fully booked. I was disappointed but nothing much can be done.

Xmas tree in the reception

Welcome drink with towel

Huge jacuzzi tub


Beautifully designed and spacious bedroom

Night view from balcony

There was a minimart available as I got myself mineral water and a beer and the rest of the night was spent in front of the TV including room service dinner, bath time and then it was lights off.

Dinner of beef noodles, fried rice and fries